I'm going to live tweet the #OARES "Ask the Editors" session happening today: sites.google.com/view/oares/home. You can register and join here: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/regist… 1/N
Q: How should we suggest editors when submitting?
Alix-Garcia: At JAERE, we don't give authors this choice, we try to assign editors based on paper topic. But when it is an option, try to pick an editor that matches the paper topic, or that knows your methods. 2/N
Ando: Another dimension you can look for a match is to think about the methods. Find an editor that uses similar methods and that can evaluate yours. 3/N
Q: What key ingredients do you look for in the abstract/CL? Are there things that make a paper get desk rejected?
Agrawai: Look at title, abstract, intro, methods to see if relevant to the journal and then send it out. But if abstract is written poorly then will desk reject. 4/N
Barrett: All journals desk-reject most submissions, so you want to avoid that. Abstract, CL, and Intro should be well vetted to polish as much as possible. 5/N
Alix-Garcia: It is extremely helpful to have a well-written paper. Spend more time on the writing! 6/N
Q: Has it happened where a paper seems in between reject and review?
Ando: Yes it happens. Can do an editorial reject and resubmit with suggests from editor to resubmit. 7/N
Q: How important is it to format figures and text to journal standards before submission.
Barrett: Not at all. That is time poorly spent relative to time spent on writing and content.

(This one was mine!) 8/N
Ando: Just one addition, it is helpful to write double-spaced. 9/N
Q: Any benefit to citing marginally relevant papers to try to game the system?
Ando: No, in fact it can be harmful.
Alix-Garcia: You should also strategically not leave out papers. 10/N
Q: How does co-authorship influence editorial decision making?
Agrawai: Doesn't matter at all. 11/N
Q: How do you identify referees?
Alix-Garcia: Usually aim for three reports. Look at papers that were cited or papers that have cited the same papers. I try to find a mix of methods and topic, junior and senior, in the relevant location, etc... 12/N
Alix-Garcia (Cont): I try to find both junior and senior b/c junior more often focus on details and senior tend to focus on big picture. 13/N
Agrawai: We've added a goal of trying to get more diversity from reviewers, so more women and more reviewers from poorer institutions. 14/N
Barrett: Also try to cultivate a diverse pool in the sense of geography and generations of work on the topic. A younger reviewer will think about new methods, an older reviewer will have a better understanding of the arc of the research. 15/N
Q: For those still learning how to write review reports, how to decide if suggest revise and resubmit or reject?
Ando: I don't place much wgt on that recommendation, that is the editor's job. But if you see a problem that is unfixable and invalidates the paper, then reject. 16/N
Ando (Cont): But also, should be constructive. Papers are submitted to improve work, not to be cruel. 17/N
Q: Something about submission fees and paying reviewers (I missed it, sorry).
Barrett: No. It excludes some researchers and I worry about monetizing every possible thing in the profession. When you commoditize a public good it can crowd out the altruistic behavior. 18/N
Ando: same at JAERE, but reviewers do get 1 year of free submissions.
Agrawai: not reviewing several papers can leave a bad taste in the editors mouth. Won't penalize but on the margin it may benefit to review. 19/N
Q: What are thoughts on single or double-blind peer review?
Mallory: I think double-blind is valuable, although I recognize it isn't realistic if working paper is posted. But it gives the author the option to post a WP or not. 20/N
Ando: The author's names and affiliations are not the first thing you think, have stayed with double-blind for now. 21/N
Q: How does one become an associate editor / editor?
Agrawai: depends on the editorial chief. May issue an open call but more often ask people directly. 22/N
Ando: editors propose new people to the board for approval. But sometimes people reach out and editors listen to that as well.
Alix-Garcia: we do an open call and review. 23/N
Q: What role do editors have in encouraging paper reproducability?
Alix-Garcia: There are two meanings: reproducing exact results or reproducing a study under different situation. Editors can help with both. 24/N
Alix-Garcia (Cont): But we place a big premium on shiny new research so that would have to change. Pre-registration is cool but will take time for journals to get that set up. 25/N
Barrett: Don't formally require filing data and code, but are moving toward high expectation of doing so. Property rights can make reproducibility difficult. Need to pay attention to the crisis in science though, even though we may not want to share our data / code. 26/N
Q: What role do editors have in supporting submissions from underrepresented groups?
Ando: mentoring programs with editors; expand range of topics and methods we publish; symposiums about underrepresented topics. 27/N
Ando (Cont): Often these feel like optional things, so it's on us to make it the norm so that they are expected. 28/N
Q: Do you feel being an editor changed your view of the profession?
Mallory: For me, not really. 29/N
Barrett: For me it reminds me of the strength of the profession. Most best papers are made much better by the review process. It's encouraging to see how many reviewers are willing to make substantial contributions. 30/N
Agrawai: I often feel academics never change their mind. Being an editor helps me think differently. Reviewers who are very negative may change their mind if they see improvements for example. 31/N
Agrawai (Cont): I have also had a few cases of authors trying to use their reputation/position to push papers through, which has been negative. 32/N
Alix-Garcia: Has improved my sense of the publication process, the range of my research topics, and my knowledge of topics. Editing has a personal benefit as well in that way. 33/N
Q: Do you think your journal suffers from pub bias?
Barrett: Yes. All journals are. But how big is the problem and is there a better solution? When you teach do you include absolutely everything in your syllabus? Curation is important, but there is a trade-off. 34/N
Barrett (Cont): Curation adds value by helping us sift through research, but then the excluded research won't be visible. Open journals such as QOpen emphasize the cost of the second thing more than the benefit of the first. 35/N
Q: How many submission authors do not have a PhD?
Agrawai: Almost all have a PhD. 36/N
Q: How would you characterize different journals on similar topics?
Alix-Garcia: World Dev speaks to a broader audience, for example. AJAE and JAERE are less different, but JAERE should be focused on env or resource issues, not as much on ag. 37/N
Ando: over time AAEA has diversified and so has AJAE, so scope has increased. 38/N
Q: What do you think of the differences between Science/Nature submissions relative to econ journal submissions?
Ando: Typically S/N papers are more multidisciplinary, not as econ focused, and often use relatively simple econ methods. 39/N
Ando (Cont): Topic in S/N also has to be of broader public interest, and length has to be shorter. 40/N
Agrawai: Where you want to publish is a function of who you want to speak with. So if you are more junior in particular you want to focus on the discipline journals. 41/N
Aside: kitter has decided to help so apologies for any weird typos. 42/N
Bloem: PNAS / S / N may care more about external validity than internal validity, does that seem right?
Agrawai: Yes, that's probably right.
Ando: Some departments value multidisc journal publications, so your focus depends in part on your department 44/N
Q: How are non-causal papers that use careful methods?
Barrett: Descriptive papers are great. We need to know what before we can know why. I'd like to see more descriptive work because it helps understand the way things are. Don't try to do causal work if it isn't the focus. 45/N
Agrawal: Good description is great, but should be carefully done and should be novel and interesting. Burden is probably higher for descriptive papers. 46/N
Aside 2: I've been embarrassingly spelling Agrawal's name with an "i" this whole time 😳 47/N
Ando: I think it would be good for our profession to have a conversation about what "good descriptive work" really is. 48/N
Q: How receptive are you to publishing replications of previous studies?
Mallory: replication studies are important. But they aren't all equal: e.g. if it has open data and you essentially reproduce with similar results, then probably not. But if you found an error then yes. 49/N
Mallory (Cont): Or if the data is hard to get and the study *does* confirm previous results, that can also be worthwhile. 50/N
Q: For papers based on a previous paper, better to submit to the same journal or a different one?
Agrawal: Probably the same one. If it's a comment then definitely the same one. The paper must stand on it's own merits regardless. 51/N
Q: What areas are particularly important in a post-COVID world?
Alix-Garcia: All the research we do is important. But hopefully not everyone will be writing about it. Issues that were important are still important. 52/N
Alix-Garcia (Cont): Hopefully we'll see work that emphasizes these effects in the context of long term issues.
Ando: Equity has been an issue and was an issue in how COVID affected people. The profession should start to address issues of equity more seriously. 53/N
Q: If a paper has been with an editor for a while is it okay to follow up?
Agrawal: 4 days is too short.
Alix-Garcia: Goal is 2 months, so that's about the time frame to check in. 54/N
Q: Why is the rate of acceptance so low for low/middle-income country researchers?
Barrett: Much less informal mentoring is available which makes submission harder for researchers in those locations. We can make headway on that. 55/N
Agrawal: Conditional on quality, do you disadvantage researchers from low/middle income countries? And is rate of acceptance different from wealthier countries? 56/N
Barrett: A lot of submissions are not ready yet and shouldn't have been submitted, but also native english speakers have an advantage that realistically does affect acceptance rates. Even if you try not to let it affect you, it probably does subconsciously. 57/N
Q: How important are cover letters for submission?
Alix-Garcia: Often they do not matter. So a very simple letter is fine. Unless you have something specific to note. However interdisciplinary journals are often different. 58/N
Agrawal: Yes, you should submit a CL that clearly conveys what the paper is doing. Anything you can do to make the editor's job easier is useful. Definitely matters for PNAS for example. 59/N
Ando: Look at instructions in journal submission. CL are read, won't affect referee/editor, but can affect immediate reject. 60/N
Barrett: In CL, don't copy-paste your abstract; don't badmouth other resources; do say if you can't make code/data available; do say if a process of paper has been unusual; do include some comments from previous reviewers. 61/N
Q: Do you send the final decision to the reviewers?
Barrett: Yes in general. Usual practice is to inform.
Agrawal: In EM it can be set as the default, but older software may not be able to do that.
Q: Are there any ways for reviewers to ask how they are doing or what they can do better?
Alix-Garcia: Good question. Clearly delineate weaknesses but also suggest feasible solutions. You can ask the editor if they have any feedback. 63/N
Q: What is policy for dealing with unprofessional reviewers and their comments?
Ando: There is no policy. It is hard to deal with. Editors try to ignore those parts, but it's complicated. Do we share a review that is unprofessional? 64/N
Barrett: I have a couple of times not shared a review. Unprofessional reviewers are unlikely to get asked to review again. 65/N
Q: If rejected should you respond to editor to clarify reviewer comments that are egregious or are value judgements or accusations that are not true.
Agrawal: Yes it may be valuable to do that especially for more junior researchers. 66/N
And that's a wrap! I did a lot of paraphrasing so any errors or omissions or misrepresentations are my fault. I think I also missed a couple of questions. It was very helpful for me to write all of this down. Hopefully it's helpful to others as well. N/N

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