ECONOMIC INQUIRY | Journal Policies


1. Overview

Published since 1962, Economic Inquiry (formerly Western Economic Journal) is widely regarded as one of the top scholarly journals in economics. The journal has published many high-quality papers over the years and counts at least twenty-two Nobel laureates among our long list of prestigious authors.

The goal of Economic Inquiry is to advance scientific knowledge in the domain of economics. As such we seek to publish work across all fields in economics. Any high-quality work will be considered with no prejudice for or against any particular methodology or nature of results.  The main criteria for publication is the degree to which a paper advances scientific knowledge in its area. As a general interest journal, we strongly encourage authors to write their papers in a manner such that their work is accessible to economists who are not specialists in the article’s topic area. This is important for a general interest journal like EI which serves a broad audience and when authors write their work in this way it has the possibility of maximizing their contribution to the broader discipline.

2. Diversity

The Editorial Board of Economic Inquiry is committed to furthering diversity in our discipline along many dimensions.  This means we seek to publish work written by scholars from a diverse background and especially those from backgrounds historically underrepresented in our discipline. We also encourage authors to engage with the work of these scholars to make sure that important contributions from members of these groups are not overlooked. The journal further encourages the use of gender inclusive pronouns in manuscripts. Authors should strive to make certain that their writing is free from bias and stereotypes. Economic Inquiry retains its double-blind review process as a symbolic commitment to pushing referees to treat all submissions equally regardless of who submitted the paper. While we realize that referees can often uncover the identity of authors we hope that maintaining this process can encourage reviewers not to and instead focus on the quality of the work itself rather than its origin.

Over the years, we have sought and continue to seek members of our editorial team from diverse backgrounds to ensure that our support of diversity is represented by the editorial board.  We seek to not only have our editorial board reflect the diversity in the profession but also try to ensure that all members of the board are sensitive to the biases that have historically led to members of underrepresented groups being at a disadvantage in our field. This is a core principle of the journal and all members of our editorial board will be expected to take these issues into account during the editorial process to try to avoid furthering those historical biases.

3. Review Process

Economic Inquiry has long been a leader in the drive to decrease lag times in the publication process which involves a streamlined editorial process and a push to eliminate inefficient revision cycles. Our goal is to accomplish these objectives while also maintaining a rigorous and fair review process. Upon submission and payment of the submission fee, articles are first sent to the Editor to be handled directly or sent to a member of the board. Typically, submissions will then be sent out for review by referees who are requested to respond within 45 days. Our goal at EI is to maintain a time to first decision of 60 days or less. While we cannot always achieve that for every paper, we usually do quite well with respect to that goal. One part of achieving that goal is that EI maintains an editorial policy encouraging members of the board to immediately reject papers that are deemed to be not a good fit for the journal or that they expect will not pass the review process. This is done to help get authors faster decisions on papers allowing them to seek a better outcome elsewhere more rapidly.  It is important to note that the policy of the journal is that submission fees are not refunded even if the submission is rejected without being sent out to referees.  Part of the reason for this is that we do not want board members having incentives to send out papers for a lengthy review process simply to retain the submission fee.

In addition to trying to keep down wait time for initial decisions, the journal also seeks to minimize the number of rounds of revisions a paper goes through. The journal as a policy will not request revisions of a paper for which the co-editor in charge does not see a clear path for publication and we expect most papers to receive final decisions after one and occasionally two rounds of revisions. Any revision rounds past this generally deliver few benefits while being costly to both the authors and the editorial team.  We prefer to eliminate inefficient revision rounds by not requesting revisions unless crucial to the credibility of the research. We will typically not request significant revisions past 2 rounds and papers still not ready to be published at this point may be rejected rather than continue receiving revision requests. This policy is in place to benefit authors by leading to a more rapid decision process but authors should also understand that this requires them to work hard on revision requests to satisfy the concerns of the editorial team on preferably the first round but definitely after a second round.

For any decision made by an editor at the journal, they are strongly encouraged to be explicitly clear about the justification for their decision. Thus, when an editor chooses to a reject a submission they are expected to provide a clear explanation for that decision. If a revision is requested then editors are encouraged to be as clear as possible regarding the expectations placed on a revision that would lead to an acceptance decision.

The journal has also pioneered a novel category for submissions in our No-Revisions option, first introduced by then editor Preston McAfee. Authors submitting to EI have the option to choose to submit their manuscript under this policy. Under the No-Revisions policy, the only decisions allowed by an editor are to reject the submission or accept it as is. The journal cannot and will not require any revisions prior to publication for articles accepted under this policy. Authors should understand the risk they take with this approach as many papers that might be acceptable after a round of revisions may be rejected if submitted through this approach. This option is not one all authors should avail themselves of, but this option can be useful to authors under the right circumstances.

In another attempt to reduce time lags, authors are allowed to choose to send review materials from previous submissions at other journals if they believe they will be helpful to the editorial process.  It is at the co-editor’s discretion on how to use the previous materials.

4. Ethics in Publishing

Economic Inquiry expects authors to adhere to the highest professional standards in their research. This means that authors should not engage in plagiarism (including self-plagiarism), falsification of data or misappropriating the work of others. All research involving human subjects is expected to have passed appropriate IRB approval and authors should note this approval in the acknowledgements section of their paper. Authors will be required to submit a disclosure statement when submitting to allow them to disclose any conflicts of interest regarding the research performed in the paper by revealing any connections they have to concerned parties and provide details of IRB approval. All papers submitted to EI are expected not to be simultaneously under review elsewhere.

Ethical concerns also apply to members of the editorial board. Members of the board are expected to recuse themselves from handling papers from submissions by current colleagues, co-authors of papers (published in the last 5 years), previous students, previous members of their own dissertation committee, family members or others with whom they have a close relationship. Members of the board will be expected to disclose such relationships to the editor if a paper is assigned to them that would violate this policy. To the extent possible, referees of papers should also recuse themselves if they have a close relationship with the authors. At a minimum we ask that they disclose this relationship to the co-editor and allow the co-editor to decide if the referee can provide an unbiased report.

As a commitment to transparency in the review process, for all accepted papers EI will include the name of the member of the editorial board who handled the paper on the published version. 

5. Data Availability Policies

Economic Inquiry requires that authors of all published empirical papers submitted to the journal after December 1, 2021 provide enough detail on their work so that their results can be replicated. It is expected that, prior to publication, not before submission, data from empirical papers will be uploaded into a suitable archive and that instructions be included with the data necessary for an interested party to reconstruct key tables and figures from the published manuscript. For any paper that involves gathering a unique data set, this includes economic experiments, surveys and similar data gathering exercises, all instruments used in gathering that data should also be provided in that archive. The replication materials will be linked to the published paper.

The WEAI has a sponsored data archive at OpenICPSR in which all authors can upload their replication materials free of charge after the paper has passed the review process (visit the WEAI repository for more information and instructions). Authors should expect to use WEAI's archive site but can if necessary use an alternative archive site. Any alternative site must be approved by the editor to ensure that the alternative archive site meets the journal’s requirements for data integrity.

After a paper receives an initial acceptance, the authors will be asked to upload their data archive and provide the URL of its location. A member of the editorial board will review the data archive to ensure that it meets the journal requirements. If the materials provided are not complete, authors will be asked to update the archive until it is sufficient. If authors fail to comply with the requirement for providing replication materials, the journal maintains the right to withdraw an acceptance decision. Should replication materials turn out to be problematic after publication has occurred, the editor will deal with cases as they arise and in serious cases papers may be retracted by the journal.

Replication packages must include the following elements:

  1. A summary file (preferably in simple txt format or pdf) describing the contents of the replication package. It should explain the role and function of each file included and detail all software necessary to run the code as well as any additional add-on packages required. A simple explanation should be included providing instructions for how someone should run the code to generate the results as well as an explanation for where the results can be found once the code is finished. While not required, we suggest authors consult the README Template provided by the Social Science Data Editors for suggestions on how to write this file and assemble a data archive.
  2. All data files and code necessary to produce the main tables and figures in the manuscript should be included.
  3. Ideally authors should provide the code used to clean and organize their data from original data files. When that is not feasible, authors should provide a clear description of their process for doing so including any decision criteria for dropping or excluding data, imputing values or other data transformations performed between the original data files and the final data file. When base data files are not included, authors should explain the origin of those base data files and explain how another researcher could access them.
  4. For any projects that involve the creation of an original data set via surveys, experiments or similar methods, authors should provide full details on the methods used in that process. This involves providing data gathering instruments, experiment programs, instruction scripts and so on including a brief description for how these materials were used in gathering data.
  5. For any projects which involve simulations or computational elements, the code generating those calculations should be included as well as an explanation for how one would run the code.
  6. It is expected that some data sets may be proprietary or unable to be publicly archived. If that’s the case, this should be explained when submitting. In lieu of providing the data, authors should provide clear descriptions regarding the process to obtain the data or how other researchers might be able to obtain the data as well as clear explanations for how the data were then processed into the form used. Code for conducting the work should still be included and explained even if the data itself cannot be uploaded.

If there are reasons that you would be unable to comply with this policy, those reasons should be explained when the paper is submitted. Waivers to this policy can be allowed when appropriate at the discretion of the editor.