Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Hamermesh’

Journal Submission Strategies

October 27, 2009

What sparked this post was a discussion with a fellow PhD-student, where I was told that advice from several senior researchers was not to submit a basically finished manuscript because it would have to go to an only okay journal; not a top journal. Instead, the manuscript should be totally reworked and then sent to a top journal. One top journal publication is supposedly more worth than five ‘other’ publications.

I don’t understand. Anyway, it motivated me to read a recent article from the B.E. Press by Heintzelman & Nocetti on journal submission strategies. The article starts out with two quotes from famous economists:

Start with a higher-quality outlet than your eventual target […] The professional returns to choosing a better journal are higher. But a strategy of aiming high requires thick skin; the acceptance rate at major economics journals is around 10 percent. Thus, it pays to have a ‘submission tree’ in mind, a sequence of alternative outlets for your work. – Daniel S. Hamermesh [see Heintzelman & Nocetti 2009 for the reference]

Give each of your papers a shot or two at the top journals, such as the AER, JPE, or QJE. Even if you are not confident in the paper, it is worth a try for two reasons. First, as author, you are not in the best position to judge its quality; some people are too fond of their own work, and some are too hard on it. Let the editors decide. Second, the editorial process is highly imperfect. The bad news is that some of your best articles may end up getting rejected from the top journals. The good news is that you may get lucky, and some of your so-so articles may end up published in top journals simply because they hit the editor’s desk when he is in a good mood. – Gregory Mankiw [p. 1]

Fair enough; these advices does not say only to go for the top publications. More interesting, perhaps, is footnote 2 on page 2, which refers to ‘Oswald (2007)’ [again, see Heintzelman & Nocetti 2009 for the reference], which ‘shows that the best (most-cited) articles in middle-tier journals are often ‘better’ than the least-cited papers in top-tier journals.’

Heintzelman & Nocetti 2009 moves on to show that Hamermesh’s and Mankiw’s advices holds up well in their analysis.

Given the long reviewing times in most journals, however, [the advices] may not be well suited for young, untenured, professors who are more likely to be impatient and risk averse. These authors should instead consider submitting to lower tier journals first [p. 3].

And then move up the ladder?

Heintzelman & Nocetti also brings advice for less gifted authors (read: me):

[A]uthors of papers that are not of the highest quality, and especially those without an established reputation, will lean towards lower tier outlets [p. 3].

The part on reputation is somewhat unsettling. Anyway, the ‘senior’ advice my fellow student got seems to be B.S.

(Somewhat) related post:

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The Cost of Standby Computers

April 1, 2009

On Freakonomics, Daniel Hamermesh rebuff a claim that standby computers in the U.S. waste $2.8 billion on energy.

It ignores the cost of turning computers off — and having to turn them on again the next morning. Let’s say that process takes five minutes per day, and one does it 250 days per year. That’s 1,250 minutes, or more than 20 hours per person per year.

Assume the average computer user’s wage is $21 per hour, and take the old estimate that time is valued at one-third of the wage. So each person’s time per year turning his/her computer off and on is worth 20 x $7 = $140. I’m being conservative and assuming only 50 million U.S. computer users. That gives a cost of turning computers off/on of 50,000,000 x $140 = $7 billion, which is 2.5 times the alleged savings from turning computers off. Even if people’s time were valued at only $3 per hour (less than half the minimum wage), leaving computers on would still make sense.

This story is yet another example of environmental savings uber alles — that saving $1 in environmental damage is worth much greater costs incurred along other dimensions. These stories assume explicitly — or, more usually, implicitly — that people’s time has no value.

I read through some of the first comments, and every comment had problems with Hamermesh’s argument. Mostly, people claim they do other things while their computer starts up or closes down. Myself, I tend to do unecessary things while the computer starts up and would prefer to just start working.

The story also reminded me of an old post on Environmental Economics on an energy saving plan at the Appalachian State University, linking it to carbon release. Ol’ mighty John Whitehead mixes up the numbers, however (see the comments).

Economics Rap

February 19, 2009

This is hillarious. From Freakonomics, a rap about economics:

It’s all about the Law of Supply and Demand,
Prices are set by the Invisible Hand.

A floor that’s put on your product’s price
Is something the consumer will find not nice.

If you raise your price when demand’s elastic,
Your revenue will drop and you’ll go ballistic.

Get the same extra utiles for each extra dollar,
The maximum utility is sure to follow.

Produce where price equals marginal cost
If you don’t you’ll find that your profits are lost.

Always think about cost, opportunity,
If not, you’ll find you’re hurting your community.

Think margin, think margin.

Monopolists set MR to marginal cost
The result is that consumer surplus is lost

Make sure your strategies are subgame perfect
Plan your strategic interactions without any defect.

Tax the inelastic, or you’ll be hurtin’
Because you’ve created a large excess burden.

With positive externalities it’s always wise,
To encourage more production — subsidize.

A tariff or a quota helps a few producers,
But consumers will always be the big losers.

Sometimes you gotta choose efficiency or fairness,
Ya need more than econs, ya need political awareness.

Think margin, think margin.

The rap is written by Daniel Hamermesh, a regular contributor to Freakonomics. According to the post, he usually perfoms this rap to his microeconomics class “while wearing a whoopee cap and riding around the lecture theater on a Razor scooter.” Now I hope to see a video of this on YouTube anytime soon!

The English problem

January 1, 2009

Daniel Hamermesh asks some interesting questions about the position of the English language in academic circles over on the Freakonomics blog. (Many of the comments are worth reading if you’re interested.) I think it is safe to say that English is the most widely used language in scientific articles these days; maybe some Russian mathematicians still publish in Russian and I think Chinese research is published in Chinese. However, English is the new ‘lingua franca,’ as Hamermesh points out (English dominant position goes beyond the academic world, ofcourse). ‘I feel guilty about this,’ Hamermesh writes,

and all American economists should: It’s easier for us to write our scholarly papers than it is for other economists; it’s easier for us to function internationally.

That exact problem bugs me every single day. In the recent year I’ve put efforts into improving my english; this very blog is one of my training facilities. Had English been my mother tounge I would be able to put more efforts into the research I’m supposed to conduct and less into studying English. Notwithstanding, a lot of American economists could with advantage pay more attention to how they use their language (just ask McCloskey). And, ofcourse, I’m in the same boat as all other researchers who have an other mother tounge than English. Still, however, the English problem bugs me every time I read an English word or sentence that is not immediate to me.

Would I prefer a world with a world language? Well, I don’t know. For one thing, if you don’t know what you’re missing, you don’t miss it. And, an instant switch from 200+ languages (I’m sure there’s more, but I think there’s at least 200 languages around in active use) to one world language is impossible. So the question is hypothetical (I’ve realized that most (philosohical) questions are, and I have to work on my ‘distaste’ for them). Another thing is that in todays world, a situation with one world language is not a sustainable situation; different corners that are more or less unconnected, say, Inner Mongolia and Outer Sahara, would develop dialects and words independent of each other and soon one could not talk of only one world language anymore. But  apart from these problems, I think Yes, I would prefer a one language world.