Best Practices

Helpful Guides for Professional Best Practices

Joint Editorials

Editors’ Joint Policy Statement Regarding “Coercive Citations” by The Editors of JF, JFQA, JFE, RAPS, RCFS, and RFS 

Joint Editorial: Advice for Authors (2013) by David Hirshleifer, G. William Schwert, and Kenneth J. Singleton. Rev. Financ. Stud. 26 (11):2685-2686. doi: 10.1093/rfs/hht061

Joint Editorial: Advice for Authors (2002) by Richard Green, Maureen O’Hara, and G. William Schwert.  Rev. Financ. Stud. 15(2):iii–iv

Articles and Presentations

Have Instrumental Variables Brought Us Closer to Truth? by Wei Jiang. This presentation was Wei Jiang’s keynote address at the 2015 SFS Finance Cavalcade, which she organized on behalf of the SFS.

Preparing a Referee Report: Guidelines and Perspectives by Jonathan B. Berk, Campbell R. Harvey, and David Hirshleifer. This report was presented to the board of directors of the American Finance Association and received its support in January 2015.

Tips on Writing a Referee’s Report by Wayne Ferson and John Matsusaka

Writing Tips for Ph.D. Students by John H. Cochrane

Some Do’s and Don’ts on Presenting Papers at Finance Conferences and Beyond by Andrew Karolyi. Presented at the October 2014 Financial Management Association’s Assistant Professors Breakfast meeting.

Referee Recommendations by Ivo Welch. Rev. Financ. Stud. (2014) 27 (9):2773-2804. doi: 10.1093/rfs/hhu029

Abstract: This paper quantitatively analyzes referee recommendations at eight prominent economics and finance journals, and the SFS (Society for Financial Studies) Cavalcade Conference, where a known algorithm matched referees to submissions. The behavior of referees was similar in all venues. The referee-specific component in the disposition recommendation was about twice as important as the common component. Referees differed both in their scales (some referees were intrinsically more generous than others) and in their opinions of what a good paper was (they often disagreed about the relative ordering of papers).

Reviewing Less—Progressing More by Matthew Spiegel. Rev. Financ. Stud. (2012) 25 (5):1331-1338. doi: 10.1093/rfs/hhs052

Abstract: Presumably, academic journals exist and publish articles to disseminate new ideas. Somehow that simple goal has been lost. Today, articles appear in print only after a referee is convinced that all other alternative explanations for its results have been ruled out. In reality, no article can exclude every possible alternative, so this is basically an exercise in futility. The criterion for publication should be that once an article crosses some threshold it is good enough to publish. The problem seemingly lies in our inability to say “good enough.” But this is a problem we can fix.

Refereeing Ever More—Progressing Ever Less by Matthew Spiegel. Based on his presentation at SFS Cavalcade North America 2017.

Abstract: Over the past several decades academic finance articles have grown longer and longer. Increasing demands by referees continue to make matters worse. Authors currently face long lists nearly pointless “requests” for additional tests. (Reverse causality anyone?) Since larger and larger teams are now needed to handle all of the demands the number of authors on each paper has grown as well. The result has been a system in which papers take years to go from initial idea to publication. This might be acceptable if it led to a faster expansion of the profession’s knowledge base. But that seems difficult to believe. As in the past no single article can definitively show that something is true. What can be done to reverse this trend? Referees can start by limiting their reports to two pages or less. Editors can help by telling authors to ignore most of the “suggestions” in referee reports, especially those that are on pages three and up. Instead of futilely pursuing a quest to eliminate all endogeniety concerns, skip the endogeniety tests. They are mostly data mined at this point anyway. Instead publish shorter papers without the robustness and endogeniety tests. Then if other researchers doubt the veracity of the results let them show they are due to some peculiarity in the data or that the causality runs the other way. Then publish the new paper. This will let authors move on with their research agendas and provide a way to crowd source robustness and endogeniety checks. A system that seems much more likely to produce useful results than the current system of demanding that authors conduct every robustness and endogeniety check some one to three referees can come up with.

Cosmetic Surgery in the Academic Review Process by David Hirshleifer. Rev. Financ. Stud. (2015) 28 (3):637-649. doi: 10.1093/rfs/hhu093

Abstract: Has the academic review process become excessive? I describe a model in which reviewers who seek reputations with editors for high skill recommend the repair of mere blemishes as well as significant flaws. Reviewer signal-jamming is profitable if editors have trouble distinguishing the two, leading in equilibrium to insistence upon cosmetic surgery. Indeed, if there is a chance that blemishes are unremovable, in equilibrium editor and reviewer demands sometimes cause good papers to remain unpublished. This implies a socially valuable role for active editing. Signal-jamming incentives may especially suppress innovative papers, as well as external verification by means of follow-up papers. This perspective strongly suggests that the increased burden of the review process is undesirable. I offer tentative thoughts about what to do about it.

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