ELSSS - Electronic Society for Social Scientists

How RET aims to improve on current journal practices. Data and objectives.

Submission to acceptance delays

Current practice regarding the disclosure of statistics of submission-acceptance lags varies across theory journals, but it would be fair to say that no theory journal comparable to The Review of Economic Theory (e.g., Journal of Economic Theory) or others (e.g., Economic Theory, Games and Economic Behavior) publishes detailed statistics on all the following:
  1. time of arrival of submission;
  2. time of assignment of Editor-in-charge;
  3. time of editorial decision;
  4. time spent by author on revision;
  5. time of arrival of final version;
  6. time of online availability of accepted article.

The Review of Economic Theory will make all the above data publicly available so that authors and readers can make the relevant comparisons with competing journals. For example, recent issues of The Journal of Economic Theory have an average submission to acceptance lag of 17.6 months (no breakdown is provided to account for authors' revision(s), if any); the latest issue of Games and Economic Behavior has an average submission to availability online lag of 39.4 months, whereas the latest issue of Economic Theory has an average lag between receipt of submission and receipt of revised version of 20 months.

Acceptance to online availability delays

The Review of Economic Theory aims at making accepted articles available online within two weeks of receipt of the final version. As a matter of comparison, the average acceptance-online availability lags in recent issues of The Journal of Economic Theory and Economic Theory were respectively 15.6 months and 9.5 months.

Manuscript management

The Review of Economic Theory is using software especially designed and developed by ELSSS (thanks to support from the Royal Economic Society) with the sole aim of streamlining and speeding up all the stages of submission management.
This software (code-named EPT, the Elsss Publishing Template) includes best-practice features as well as innovations of its own. Its design philosophy is simple: to keep track of all documents/files transactions, dating them, making them available to relevant parties (authors, editors, referees), prompting them to take appropriate actions at the appropriate time. For example, as soon as the first referee's report is received, the EPT automatically informs other referee(s) of this event.

A truly electronic journal

The fact that accepted articles will be made available online within a very short period of time does not mean that the online version of The Review of Economic Theory is basic and rudimentary. Quite the opposite! We want RET to provide its readers with the highest level of browsability, ease of use, and research-productivity enhancement. Using our own EPT, we have given RET online a unique feel-and-look, with useful innovations (e.g., the dynamic use of the RHS margin, that displays pertinent additions to the text of the article, such as the abstract, footnotes, references, etc.).
Future developments include interactive features, forward-citation tracking, etc.

A better deal for libraries

One of the most glaring aspects of the inefficiency of the market for scientific journals is the huge discrepancy between the library subscription fee charged by not-for-profit publishers and commercial publishers. For example, whereas Econometrica's 2003 institutional subscription amounts to US$334, the Journal of Econometrics (published by Elsevier) charges institutions US$2,313 in North America, US$2,298 in Japan, and US$2,177 in Europe. Similarly, an institutional subscription to Springer's Economic Theory costs US$1,227 and Elsevier's Journal of Economic Theory charges institutions US$2,228 in North America, US$2,359 in Japan, and US$2,845 in Europe, whereas the Review of Economic Studies charges US$180 to OECD institutions. Notice that some commercial publishers (e.g., Elsevier) charge non-OECD institutions at the North American rate.
The Review of Economic Theory has a simple pricing policy: University libraries and not-for-profit research units in high-income countries are charged the minimum break-even subscription (US$300 in 2003), and the rest of the world gets full-text, completely free access.
ELSSS is happy to announce that as from 2003 The Review of Economic Theory is officially endorsed by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).

Copyright policy and access to archived copies

Unlike commercial publishers, who require the complete and full transfer of copyright to themselves as a condition of publication, authors of articles published in The Review of Economic Theory retain full copyright of their material.
Moreover, whereas commercial publishers grant full access to archived past issues only as long institutional subscribers hold a current subscription, archived past issues of The Review of Economic Theory are available in perpetuity to current and past subscribers.
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