Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Hal Varian <>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 21:30:19 +0100

Stevan Harnad wrote:

> I think there are many reasons referees should not be paid. The first is
> that referee-payment is virtually untested and could bias the peer-review
> process; the second is that there is not faintly enough money available
> to make any payment more than a token, hence adding insult to injury! The
> third is that it would add needless costs where what we are trying to
> do is reduce costs and unbundle the essentials from the options for the
> sake of open access.

Actually there are several economics and finance journals that have paid
referees for at least 10 years. We found that a relatively small payment
($35 or so) had a fairly large impact on turnaround time. I conjecture
that this is in part because people look at the pile of referee requests
and say "oh well, I might as well referee the one I get paid for first".

The Journal of Financial Economics used to pay $300 for a prompt referee
report; I'm not sure what their current policy is. The costs are
covered out of submission fees, following the likely view that authors
would be willing to pay a fee to get quicker turnaround.

Of course, it is not obvious that this sort of incentives would work
well with non-economists.

I vaguely recall seeing a study of the impact of referee payments on
turnaround, but I couldn't find it in a casual search.

Hal Varian, Dean           voice: 510-642-9980
SIMS, 102 South Hall       fax:   510-642-5814
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
Received on Tue Aug 13 2002 - 21:30:19 BST

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