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Weekly links February 3rd: Being a better referee, undergraduate econometrics, stopping Mexican migration didn’t help U.S. workers, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • In the latest JEP, how to write an effective referee report: With three specific recommendations: I) Make clear the contribution, and give appropriate value to innovative work: “The importance of a contribution can be undervalued in some cases by referees and editors. After all, papers that are more ambitious are often more likely to have loose ends, which gives referees and editors a reason to avoid taking a chance on them” II) divide comments into two clearly demarcated sections: 1) problems that make the paper unpublishable, which (if revision is invited) must be addressed before the paper is publishable; and 2) problems that are not essential for the publishability of the paper, which should labeled as “suggestions.”; and III) In making requests of authors, weigh the costs of the request. It is not enough that a particular request will improve the paper. The benefits must exceed the costs, so that the improvement has positive net present value. Since the author bears the costs, it is easy for a referee to make absurd demands thoughtlessly. Don’t.” – and finally, after receiving multiple 5+ page referee reports recently, I agree with “Unless a referee needs to make extremely technical points, 2–3 pages should be sufficient.”
  • Also in the latest JEP, a 7-paper symposium on China.
  • Special section in Science this week on prediction, including “predicting arming conflicts” – a good overview of recent work, with discussion of the many challenges.
  • The Economist profiles work by Clemens, Lewis and Postel on what happened to US workers when the U.S. kicked out Mexican bracero workers – employers turned to machines and US workers didn’t get a lot more jobs.
  • Angrist and Pischke look at how undergraduate econometrics is taught in leading textbooks and syllabi, and what, if anything, has changed since the time of the Stones.
  • On Tuesday (Feb 7) I am giving a policy research talk at the Bank on “How active should our active labor market policies be in a globalizing world?”. It is in MC13-121 from 12:30-2pm, and is being livestreamed here for those not in D.C. who are interested.

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