Resources for the young economist

There are many things that you are supposed to know when you start your academic career but that no one really explains. Thankfully, you can inform yourself on the Internet.

(update 2018-07-03: added a few rankings and references following advice from Daniel Hamermesh)

How to write economics?

There are two essential guides:

There are also guides about non-fiction writing in general. I would consider these two essential as well:

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Many of the tips presented in the guides above come from this book. A great little book to keep on your desk for quick reference.

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Lots of small and big tips on how to write non-fiction properly. You will also learn how to write humour and how to conduct interviews.

What is the journal ranking?

Some rankings try to capture the feeling of the community, such as:

Communities within each country also have their own ranking: the French CNRS ranking (pdf), the UK ABS ranking

Other rankings are inferred from some data:

  • The most famous is probably RePEc/IDEAS. You can select between different flavours, for example the aggregate ranking for the past 10 years. But RePEc only counts papers from registered authors, which can bias the results.

  • This paper uses citation count:

    Kalaitzidakis, Pantelis, Theofanis P. Mamuneas, and Thanasis Stengos (2011) “An updated ranking of academic journals in economics.” Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d’économique, 44(4): 1525-1538, doi:10.1111/j.1540-5982.2011.01683.x

  • Arne Hole used data from the REF in the UK:

    Hole, Arne Risa (2017) “Ranking economics journals using data from a national research evaluation exercise”, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 79(5): 621-636, doi:10.1111/obes.12185

  • Google Scholar also has its own ranking.

Bonus: I have sent my paper to a journal, but how long will it take? The answer is always in the editors’ report (for example, Econometrica, AER).

How to review papers?

Two recent papers will tell you all you need to know:

Berk, Jonathan B., Campbell R. Harvey, and David Hirshleifer (2017) “How to Write an Effective Referee Report and Improve the Scientific Review Process.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(1): 231-44, doi:10.1257/jep.31.1.231

Berk, Jonathan B., Campbell R. Harvey, and David Hirshleifer (2016) “Preparing a Referee Report: Guidelines and Perspectives”, SSRN working paper, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2547191

They even made a checklist.

How to navigate the job market?

The most famous guide is John Cawley’s, here in its 2016-2017 edition. Take note of the title, however: ‘A Guide and Advice for Economists on the U.S. Junior Academic Job Market’. Things are slightly different in Europe, such as the timing and where you find the postings. Still, this is a great starting point.

Tips abound elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed Claudia Steinwender’s ‘Insights on the job market’ and this webpage by the Department of Economics at Harvard (see for example David Laibson’s tips and the FAQs #1, #2, #3, #4). Johannes Pfeifer’s website lists many more.

Professional etiquette and miscellaneous

Daniel Hamermesh wrote great articles about the economic profession. This one is a classic:

Hamermesh, Daniel S. (1992) “The young economist’s guide to professional etiquette.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 6(1): 169-179, doi:10.1257/jep.6.1.169

It is a little bit outdated (“Nearly all journals send an acknowledging postcard when your paper is received”) but still contains solid advice.

Daniel Hamermesh published two other papers in the same vein:

Hamermesh, Daniel S. (1994) “Facts and Myths about Refereeing.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 8(1): 153-163, doi:10.1257/jep.8.1.153

Hamermesh, Daniel S. (2018) “Citations In Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts.” Journal of Economic Literature, 56(1): 115-156, doi:10.1257/jel.20161326

If you want to dig deeper in economic writing, Deidre McCloskey has another great article on the rhetoric of economics:

McCloskey, Deidre (1983) “The Rhetoric of Economics.” Journal of Economic Literature, 21(2): 481-517, JSTOR link