Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How Academic Publishing is like a Football Drive

Touchdown! May be the most exciting words in football, but my favorite word to hear in economics is Accepted! On Sunday I got the e-mail with those words so my paper (co-authored with Towson colleague Tom Rhoads) Stadium Construction and Minor League Baseball Attendance is now forthcoming in Contemporary Economic Policy. The paper shows that building new stadiums for minor league baseball teams increases their attendance, but that increase likely does not create revenue increases sufficient to pay for new stadiums. This is consistent with a lot of the other literature on what is called the honeymoon effect that shows building new stadiums increases attendance for most major league sports.

So how is publishing like a football drive, well by being accepted you know we scored a touchdown. But not all touchdowns are equally exciting. A 95 yard pass with 5 broken tackles is more exciting then a punch into the end zone on 1st in goal. So I would compare the acceptance to scoring at 2nd and goal from the 8 yard line, there was still some doubt, but I was pretty hopeful we would score. Let's review the drive.

If you click on the paper you notice that the working paper version is from 2010. I know we presented the paper in July of 2010 at the Western Economics meetings and did most of the work in the spring of that year, so the paper took roughly 2.5-3 years from idea to acceptance, which isn't out of the norm for me or economics. Before Contemporary Economic Policy (CEP) we submit to two other journals, both of which rejected are paper, but gave some useful comments so I think the version CEP saw was much better than the 2010 paper. So in short we had two stalled drives.

So the CEP drive. I believe we submitted to CEP about a year ago. I would start by saying CEP did a great job getting us back reviews and the process could have been quicker only if we did our revisions faster. We then waited a few months for reviews to be returned (this is standard) and CEP got us 3 sets of reviews, which is not atypical although the other journals we submitted to only gave us one reviewer's comments. We got a first down and continued the drive around midfield as the reviewers generally liked the paper, but had lots of suggestions on how to improve it. We spent some time rewriting the paper and doing additional analysis and sent the paper back a few months later. The reviewers noted we had made some progress but weren't quite ready for acceptance yet, putting us in the red zone. The last set of reviews suggested we were pretty close, but we had to close the deal. I spent a month or two on one final issue thinking about it carefully and I think I had a pretty good explanation and I made small changes to the paper but wrote up about 5 pages of why we think what we were doing was accurate based on consistency checks. After a month the reviewers and editor put up their hands and signaled accepted.

Normally I don't tweet or blog as soon as a paper is accepted. I was a big fan of Barry Sanders (a running back for the Lions) growing up and when he scored he would just handed the ball to referee and went back to the bench. I think a football coach once said "act like you have been in the end zone before" My Towson colleagues and I do enjoy celebratory lattes when one of us has an article accepted, but hopefully I'll find the end zone again soon (even if I'm no Barry Sander).

A post script that amused me. A few hours after accepting the paper the journal's editor sent me a request to become  a reviewer for a different paper. We later exchanged e-mails and he was right there was basically 100% chance I would say yes to reviewing (actually I always say yes to reviewing papers unless they are completely out of my expertise zone).

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1 comment:

Stock said...

Great job, Seth. Congratulations. I think the process is fairly similar across academic disciplines. I'm currently starting my own drive with a few short passes (friend's reviews) and setting up a bomb (into a journal's hands). I hope to end with a spike and a Lambeau Leap.