Journal of Financial Economics
Information for Anxious/Impatient Authors

Ever since Mike Jensen began the JFE in 1973, one of the fundamental principles the editors have pursued is to provide thoughtful feedback to authors in a timely way. Sometimes this does not happen. We have policies to deal with disputes between authors and referees. We also have mechanisms designed to give referees a strong incentive to return their reports within a relatively quick time-frame [we pay the referee $350 and give him/her a coupon for 1/3 off a submission fee to the JFE for a timely review].

Nevertheless, we are not paying the referee anything close to the value of his/her time, so in the end we are asking for a big favor of these busy and talented individuals to forego work on their own research and teaching to instead spend time reading, thinking about, and giving advice to authors and the editor about the papers submitted to the JFE .

In recent years, the JFE has begun a policy of making quick decisions (at a reduced submission fee) on some of the papers that are submitted. This has cut down on the workload of referees, but there is still far greater demand for refereeing services than was true even ten years ago.

In an effort to provide as much transparency as possible, the JFE has for many years published on its web page the average turnaround statistics for its editors and ad hoc referees . Moreover, authors can track the progress of their papers by manuscript number here .

One obvious "downside" of this transparency is that authors can easily see when their paper is among the oldest in our work-in-process inventory. This usually triggers e-mails and/or phone calls to the editorial office (and sometimes to the editor) wanting to talk about the situation. Let me assure you that Kathleen Madsen is diligent in politely pestering referees to try to get referee's reports produced when they are late. Also, in situations where a referee is unresponsive (or repeatedly assures imminent delivery of report which never arrives), we often assign new referees to the task in an effort to expedite matters. In some cases we are reluctant to change referees for a variety of reasons (e.g., if the paper is a resubmission).

While it is annoying to wait for a tardy referee's report and decision, I can tell you from my long experience with the JFE that papers on which referees procrastinate are often "difficult" papers. Sometimes they are overly technical, long, or tedious. In some cases, I am forced to return a paper (with the submission fee) because repeated attempts to find a referee willing to do the work involved in writing a report are unsuccessful. Thus, it is not always solely the fault of a referee that the turnaround time on the report is slow.

If you are impatient and want to "check" on the status of your paper, you can send Kathleen an email at the JFE e-mail address, but in all likelihood all that will happen is that she will tell you that she has been pestering (and will continue to pester) the referee to elicit a report as soon as possible. Thus, your best bet is to be patient, track the progress of your paper, and provide quick service yourself when you are asked to serve as a referee.

Bill Schwert

Managing Editor



Journal of Financial Economics

Simon Business School
University of Rochester
Rochester, New York 14627
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