Journal of Economic Perspectives: Submissions

Considerations for those proposing topics and papers for JEP

Articles appearing in the journal are primarily solicited by the editors and associate editors. However, we do look at all unsolicited material sent by qualified academic researchers. It is expected, with few exceptions, that authors submitting papers are established researchers with a PhD in economics or a closely related field. Due to the volume of submissions received, proposals that do not meet JEP's editorial criteria will receive only a brief reply. Proposals that appear to have JEP potential receive more detailed feedback. Historically, about 10-15 percent of the articles appearing in our pages originate as unsolicited proposals. We always prefer to receive a 2-5 page article proposal rather than a completed manuscript so that we can determine the suitability of an idea before the author makes a large time investment.

Philosophy and style

The Journal of Economic Perspectives attempts to fill part of the gap between refereed economics research journals and the popular press, while falling considerably closer to the former than the latter. The focus of JEP articles should be on understanding the central economic ideas of a question, what is fundamentally at issue, why the question is particularly important, what the latest advances are, and what facets remain to be examined. In every case, articles should argue for the author's point of view, explain how recent theoretical or empirical work has affected that view, and lay out the points of departure from other views.

We hope that most JEP articles will offer a kind of intellectual arbitrage that will be useful for every economist. For many, the articles will present insights and issues from a specialty outside the readers' usual field of work. For specialists, the articles will lead to thoughts about the questions underlying their research, which directions have been most productive, and what the key questions are.

Articles in many other economics journals are addressed to the author's peers in a subspecialty; thus, they use tools and terminology of that specialty and presume that readers know the context and general direction of the inquiry. By contrast, this journal is aimed at all economists, including those not conversant with recent work in the subspecialty of the author. The goal is to have articles that can be read by 90 percent or more of the AEA membership, as opposed to articles that can only be mastered with abundant time and energy. Articles should be as complex as they need to be, but not more so. Moreover, the necessary complexity should be explained in terms appropriate to an audience presumed to have an understanding of economics generally, but not a specialized knowledge of the author's methods or previous work in this area.

The Journal of Economic Perspectives is intended to be scholarly without relying too heavily on mathematical notation or mathematical insights. In some cases, it will be appropriate for an author to offer a mathematical derivation of an economic relationship, but in most cases it will be more important that an author explain why a key formula makes sense and tie it to economic intuition, while leaving the actual derivation to another publication or to an appendix.

JEP does not publish book reviews or literature reviews. Highly mathematical papers, papers exploring issues specific to one non-U.S. country (like the state of agriculture in Ukraine), and papers that address an economic subspecialty in a manner inaccessible to the general AEA membership are not appropriate for the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Our stock in trade is original, opinionated perspectives on economic topics that are grounded in frontier scholarship. If you are not familiar with this journal, it is freely available on-line here.

Guidelines for Preparing JEP Proposals

Almost all JEP articles begin life as a two- or three-page proposal crafted by the authors. If there is already an existing paper, that paper can be sent to us as a proposal for JEP. However, given the low chances that an unsolicited manuscript will be published in JEP, no one should write an unsolicited manuscript intended for the pages of JEP. Indeed, we prefer to receive article proposals rather than completed manuscripts. The following features of a proposal seek to make the initial review process as productive as possible while minimizing the time burden on prospective authors:

  • Outlines should begin with a paragraph or two that precisely states the main thesis of the paper.
  • After that overview, an explicit outline structure (I., II., III.) is appreciated.
  • The outline should lay out the expository or factual components of the paper and indicate what evidence, models, historical examples, and so on will be used to support the main points of the paper. The more specific this information, the better.
  • The outline should provide a conclusion
  • Figures or tables that support the article's main points are often extremely helpful.
  • The specifics of fonts, formatting, margins, and so forth do not matter at the proposal stage. (This applies for outlines and unsolicited manuscripts).
  • Sample proposals for (subsequently) published JEP articles are available on request.
  • For proposals and manuscripts whose main purpose is to present an original empirical result, please see the specific guidelines for such papers below.

The proposal provides the editors and authors an opportunity to preview the substance and flow of the article. For proposals that appear promising, the editors provide feedback on the substance, focus, and style of the proposed article. After the editors and author(s) have reached agreement on the shape of the article (which may take one or more iterations), the author(s) are given several months to submit a completed first draft by an agreed date. This draft will receive detailed comments from the editors as well as a full set of suggested edits from JEP's Managing Editor. Articles may undergo more than one round of comment and revision prior to publication.

Readers are also welcome to send e-mails suggesting topics for JEP articles and symposia and to propose authors for these topics. If the proposed topic is a good fit for JEP, the JEP editors will work to solicit paper(s) and author(s).

Correspondence regarding possible future articles for JEP may be sent (electronically please) to the assistant editor, Ann Norman, at Papers and paper proposals should be sent as Word or pdf e-mail attachments.


Guidelines for Empirical Papers Submitted to JEP

The JEP is not primarily an outlet for original, frontier empirical contributions; that's what refereed journals are for. Nevertheless, JEP occasionally publishes original empirical analyses that appear uniquely suited to the journal. In considering such proposals, the editors apply the following guidelines (in addition to considering the paper's overall suitability):

  1. The paper's main topic and question must not already have found fertile soil in refereed journals. JEP can serve as a catalyst or incubator for the refereed literature, but it is not a competitor.
  2. In addition to being intriguing, the empirical findings must suggest their own explanations. If the hallmark of a weak field journal paper is the juxtaposition of strong claims with weak evidence, a JEP paper presenting new empirical findings will combine strong evidence with weak claims. The empirical findings must be robust and thought provoking, but their interpretation should not be portrayed as the definitive word on their subject.
  3. The empirical work must meet high standards of transparency. JEP strives to only feature new empirical results that are apparent from a scatter plot or a simple table of means. Although JEP papers can occasionally include regressions, the main empirical inferences should not be regression-dependent. Findings that are not almost immediately self-evident in tabular or graphic form probably belong in a conventional refereed journal rather than in JEP.