AEA Guidelines for New Editorial Appointments

By Editorial Appointments Committee (EAC)

Last updated: August 22, 2022

The purpose of this document is to clarify the process governing the appointment of coeditors, associate editors, and editorial board members of AEA journals. It is a living document and not part of the AEA bylaws. The EAC, in consultation with AEA journal editors, might choose to update these procedures at will.


The process for appointing coeditors, associate editors, and editorial board members is as follows.

  1. Journal editors submit their recommendations for potential candidates in order of preference to the Editorial Appointments Committee (EAC). Editors provide brief descriptions of the objective of the search, the steps taken to gather information on candidates, and their rationale for proposing specific candidates. Editors also submit candidates' CVs to the EAC. The list of candidates includes the most preferred candidate or candidates as well as alternative candidates, should top choice candidates be ineligible or decline to be considered.
  2. The AEA staff verifies that nominated individuals meet the eligibility criteria  and do not violate AEA guidelines for appointments.
  3. Given the information in #1 and #2, the EAC considers the professional qualifications of each candidate and how proposed candidates complement existing coeditors, associate editors, and editorial board members in terms of areas of expertise and diversity goals. Diversity includes multiple considerations. The EAC might also consider whether there are extenuating circumstances that justify proceeding with the appointment of a candidate who violates an eligibility criterion. (These instances are very rare.) The EAC notifies the editor of the committee's decision regarding proposed candidates.
  4. The editor approaches candidate(s) approved by the EAC committee. If a candidate for coeditor or associate editor confirms interest, the editor submits the names to the AEA President and Secretary, which are then reviewed for background disclosures required of AEA officers and committee members.  Disclosures are not currently required for editorial board members. If a candidate is unable to serve, the Secretary informs the respective editor and the EAC.
  5. If vetting process in (4) is successful, the EAC invites the editor to submit an official nominating memo for each coeditor or associate editor to the Secretary, along with the candidate's CV. This memo is included for final review and approval at the next Executive Committee meeting. Editors are not required to submit a memo for each editorial board member candidate -- a single memo listing all approved new and continuing editorial board appointments is sufficient.
  6. The AEA Executive Committee votes on proposed appointments.
  7. AEA notifies the editor of the outcome of the vote(s), who then confirms the appointment(s) with the nominated candidate(s).

If the AEA vetting in step (4) has not been completed before the AEA Executive Committee meeting, the Executive Committee will vote to approve potential candidates. If candidates have not been approved by the EAC before the Executive Committee meeting, a separate vote of the AEA Executive Committee will take place by email between Executive Committee meetings. In either of these cases the candidate is not notified of approval until the process is complete.

Eligibility Criteria

Main criteria

The following rules have been voted on and approved by the Executive Committee, and represent binding criteria for editorial appointments, unless extraordinary circumstances require an exception:

  1. Term limits. AEA rules limit editor appointments to consecutive terms with a given journal to three, three-year terms, with the caveat that up to three years of prior service as coeditor are not counted in the nine total years that one could serve as editor if promoted from coeditor. For the JEP editor and associate editors, the limit is two, three-year terms. Editorial board memberships are limited to three terms for the refereed journals and JEL.
  2. Limits on editorial commitments. No individual should serve as an editor, a coeditor, or editorial board member of two refereed AEA journals simultaneously, except under extenuating circumstances. Serving on an AEA refereed journal and also on JEL or JEP is acceptable, but not encouraged.
  3. Institutional constraints. For the JEL and JEP, the limit is four editorial contributors (including the editor, coeditors, and board members) from a single institution. For the AERI and AEJs the limit is five individuals (including the editor, coeditors, and board members) from a single institution, with no more than four members coming from a single department such as a business school or economics department within an institution. If the constraint is violated because someone moves to an institution where there are already four editorial contributors, the constraint is temporarily relaxed.

    For the AER, which has a larger volume of submissions and more board members, there should be no more than six editorial contributors from a single institution, with no more than four coming from a single department within that institution. If the constraint is violated because someone moves to an institution where there are already six editorial contributors, the constraint is temporarily relaxed. In addition, for AERI and the AEJs, no editor or coeditor should be initially appointed from the same institution as a sitting editor or coeditor. For the AER, no editor or coeditor should be initially appointed from the same institution as two sitting editors or coeditors.
  4. Consult before approaching new editors, coeditors, or board members already serving at other AEA journals. If someone currently serving in an editorial capacity at the AER or an AEJ journal is approached to change editorial teams (moving as an editor or coeditor from one journal to another) or editorial boards (moving from one editorial board to another), the requesting editor will first consult with the editor of the current journal of the member to learn possible reasons for hardship to that journal.

Additional criteria for candidate selection

The EAC recommends that editors consider the following criteria when identifying candidates for coeditor, associate editor, and editorial board member positions:

  1. Professional experience. Suitable candidates will generally be faculty members (or the equivalent), have strong publication records, and be able to serve the journal well in terms of field of expertise and methodological or substantive breadth. Board members or associate editors should have tenure (or the equivalent) or have received their PhD at least 10 years prior to the appointment.
  2. Prior editorial experience. Suitable candidates for the profession's most prestigious journals should have prior experience serving in editorial positions for academic journals. Editors are encouraged to consider their publication statistics, such as turnaround time. Prior experience and reputation can also be considered factors for board member nominations. Referee track record and level of experience should also be considered, but referee experience should not be considered as a suitable substitute for previous editorial experience.
  3. Other relevant professional leadership experience. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated management skill and capacity.
  4. Other editorial commitments. Editors/coeditors should not serve as editors or coeditors (or equivalent) elsewhere. The goal of this criterion is to increase the pipeline of future editors and coeditors and diversify intellectual and institutional representation of editors across AEA and non-AEA journals. The EAC recommends that editors ask candidates for coeditorship or associate editorship to step down from other editorial positions to take on their new role.
  5. Diversity of experience. Editors are encouraged to consider how a candidate would add to the diversity of the existing board, including (but not limited to) intellectual diversity (methods and fields of study), institutional diversity (where a person works and where they were trained), demographic diversity (including gender, race and ethnicity), and geographic diversity (national and international).