Development Impact provides a really useful interview with Larry Katz, long-time editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics. For non-economist readers, the QJE is one of the magical "top five" general journals in economics that play a big role (too big, in my view) in determining who does and does not get tenure in good economics departments.
The interview is interesting throughout. Were I ever to be an editor again, something I do not plan on at the moment, I think I would implement Larry's scheme of sending out many requests for referee reports for a given paper, reading each report as it comes in, and then deciding as soon as the verdict is clear. This scheme does two things. First, it reduces average response times, which is nice for the author, however things turn out. Second, it gives referees who care a lot about a particular paper more weight, as they are more likely to get their report in quickly. Certainly the times when I have managed to get a report in before Larry decided based on the views of others were times when I really cared about the paper in one direction or another.
It's really quite easy.
1 year ago