Journal of Economic Literature

ISSN 0022-0515 (Print) | ISSN 2328-8175 (Online)

Guidelines for Proposals

Please read these guidelines thoroughly before submitting a proposal.

Submission Policy

Those interested in writing an article for the Journal of Economic Literature are requested to begin with a sketch or description of roughly ten pages (not counting references), describing the contents of the proposed article, stating why the topic would be of interest to our reader, and listing the main references to be covered. Authors who are potentially interested in submitting a proposal are welcome to email the editor (d.romer@aeapubs.org) to ask about the journal’s potential interest before formally submitting a proposal. Please see the JEL Editorial Policy for more information.

Although it is more efficient to begin with a proposal, the journal will also consider submissions of full papers rather than proposals. The submission process for papers is the same as for proposals. As with proposals, authors who are potentially interested in submitting a paper are welcome to email the editor to ask about the journal’s potential interest before making a formal submission.

Submissions to the AEA journals should conform to the AEA Disclosure Policy, which provides principles for the disclosure of financial conflicts of interest and, when relevant, information regarding IRB approval. Disclosure is author- and paper-specific; a specific relationship may be relevant for one of an author’s papers but not for another.

It is the policy of the AEA to publish papers only if the data and code used in the analysis are clearly and precisely documented and access to the data and code is nonexclusive to the authors. All submissions must comply with the AEA Data and Code Availability Policy, even papers using data that cannot be published.

Research involving field experiments must be recorded in the AEA registry for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). (Laboratory experiments do not need to be registered at this time.)

Writing for the Journal of Economic Literature

The journal's analytic guides and review essays seek to synthesize recent research on topics of broad interest within the profession. A successful JEL article has four features: It clearly addresses the question of "why we should care," is accessible, features selective coverage of the relevant literature, and provides a synthesis of the literature that is covered. The intended audience is professional economists but not just those working in the subject area of any given paper.

In writing for a broader audience, the first requirement of a successful paper is to lay out what we as economists should hope to know about an issue, and why. What then do we know, with what confidence, and which questions and debates remain.

Accessible exposition should not sacrifice rigor or conceptual richness. While important ideas should be expressible in plain English, there should be no dumbing down of ideas.

Literature coverage, the third ingredient, means addressing work that is both significant and pertinent. It is not necessary to cite every paper in an area. A JEL reader relies on the expertise of the author to guide him or her to the relevant literature and to highlight work that is important and convincing.

The crucial ingredient of a successful JEL article is synthesis. An effective synthesis is informative not only to economists outside the field but also to specialists. A successful synthesis generally has a point of view, which should be clearly acknowledged. Opposing points of view should be fairly explained. Synthesis often produces a clear statement of the important unanswered questions.

The need for the journal to synthesize economics knowledge is heightened by the technological advances in electronic publishing. Most work, published and unpublished, is readily available and the need for filtering is greater than ever.

Submission Instructions

Once your submission materials have been prepared in accordance with these guidelines, please use the ScholarOne Manuscripts platform to submit your proposal.

Each (co)author should prepare a separate PDF document entitled "Disclosure Statement," which must be provided with the manuscript. The disclosure statement should include the (co)author’s name and the title of the article. If an author has nothing to disclose, that fact should be explicitly stated in the disclosure statement. Submissions that do not include these statements will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.