Peer Review: it still matters

By now, the whole sad Rogoff & Reinhart story is well-known and well-hashed. But there’s one important point that I don’t see many people making.

There are three RR papers on debt and growth. Their NBER working paper, their American Economic Review Papers & Proceedings paper of the same name, and their Journal of Economic Perspectives paper that adds Vince Reinhart as a third author.

What do all these have in common that has been neglected?

NONE OF THEM ARE PEER-REVIEWED!

I am not making this up.

While the American Economic Review is the flagship journal of our profession, the annual papers and proceedings issue, is made up of very short pieces that do not undergo peer review. Rogoff has this piece listed on his webpage simply as AER, which is very un-needed bit of resume padding.

Similarly, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, is a publication designed to provide popular presentations of research questions. On its webpage it states, “Articles appearing in the journal are normally solicited by the editors and associate editors.”

And, NBER working papers are not peer reviewed at all.

Everyone inside the economics profession knows this. Either R&R did not seek to publish their results in a peer reviewed journal, or no peer reviewed journal would accept them.

The latter case would not surprise me in the least as the papers utter fail to deal with the causality issue and the statistical methods employed are fairly primitive.

Peer review, people. It still matters.