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McAfee’s Magic Touch and AC/DC’s Revenge

I blogged last July about the creative ideas Preston McAfee was bringing to the journal he edits called Economic Inquiry.

One of his innovations was a “no revisions” option whereby an author could submit a paper to the journal under the provision that the journal publishes “as is” or not at all. If you are not an academic, it is hard to appreciate how attractive this option is on certain papers.

I vowed to submit a paper of mine (co-authored with Joe Doyle) on car seats vs. seat belts to Economic Inquiry under the new policy, and I am happy to say that it was accepted for publication.

It seems a lot of other economists found the new policy attractive. Submissions are up around 50 percent over the previous year, with the great majority of the increase accounted for by “no revisions” submissions. Some of the biggest names in the profession sent papers to Economic Inquiry last year: Doug Bernheim, David Levine, and Charlie Plott.

It should not be long before many other journal editors follow McAfee’s lead.

The “no revisions” policy wasn’t McAfee’s only innovation. He also appointed the “Stand-up Economist” Yoram Bauman to edit a “miscellany” section of the journal that publishes joke papers. (It is hard to imagine what a stand-up comedy routine about economics would look like; luckily you don’t have to, you can just watch it on YouTube.)

One of the papers accepted by Bauman: that AC/DC paper I once blogged about, setting off a minor media frenzy in Canada.

Apparently I am thanked in the acknowledgments.