Honor vs. Time

I just got a letter saying the American Economic Review was including me in a published list of exceptionally diligent referees.  I suppose I should be proud, but this “honor” has problems.  It is a signal to other editors that could increase the demands on my time.  Worse still, it indicates that I view my time as having relatively little value; and in so much of modern American society, signaling a high value of time (seeming very busy) is a status symbol.  The only virtue is that, being very senior in my profession, this additional signal adds very little new information for most observers. One friend requested that I be one of four people doing a tenure review on an assistant professor; and, after I agreed, the friend wrote back, “I have no doubt that I’ll get your review first.”

(HT: PG and MR)


Is time only valuable if it's scarce?

Eric M. Jones.

Learn to say "no".


I don't see it as signaling a low value on your time... but given that I know you are a college professor and a blogger, it makes me think you have a decent concern for other people and their anxious wait for referee reports - prioritizing them over other perhaps more lucrative endeavors.


Nonsense. I think you are forgetting that everyone knows: if you want something done, ask a busy person. Those with nothing to do accomplish exactly what they are doing.

On the matter of being busy being a status symbol, I think you are right. Some people appear spend more time _saying_ how busy they are than actually _being_ busy.

Adrienne - a very busy person who rarely ever mentions it ;-)


I don't know how expensive journals are in your field, but I've decided to dedicate my scarce reviewing time to affordable journals and will happily decline to referee submissions from expensive journals, particularly for-profit expensive journals such as Elsevier ones. The Cost of Knowledge effort at http://thecostofknowledge.com/ indicates there are many others like me!



Bu$y B

I agree w/ Tom: this post is just boasting while feigning modesty.