Only a University of Chicago Economist
A few weeks back, just as I finished up my stint as a journal editor, I asked a former University of Chicago economics professor to serve as an anonymous referee on a paper.
Usually I wouldn’t ask someone in his eighties to be a referee, but the last time I used this fellow (when he was just a young turk in his late seventies), he wrote one of the most insightful referee reports I ever received. He took a paper that I had a hard time understanding, distilled it, and then explained how it could be redone much more simply to accomplish the same goal. I made the authors redo the paper exactly along the lines the referee recommended.
In fairness, the referee should have been a co-author.
Anyway, when I asked the octogenarian economist if he could referee a paper for me, here is the response I received:
Much as I would like to do a review of this paper, my schedule looking ahead for as much as a year is just too crowded. Maybe next time!!
I hope when I am in my eighties “too busy” is the reason I am turning things down!