Mar 17, 2022 - Economy

Good writing matters in economic publishing

Several hands writing

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Listen to editors. That is the implication of some new research on how economic ideas are propagated — not just something your newsletter writer is saying to ingratiate himself with the boss.

Driving the news: Three researchers in New Zealand took unedited papers by Ph.D students in economics and provided professional editing services to try to improve the quality (h/t to Marginal Revolution).

  • They then asked both economists and writing experts to evaluate the papers, giving some the edited versions and others the unedited versions (without telling them which they were looking at).
  • The economists were 8.4 percentage points more likely to accept the edited versions of the paper for a conference and 4.1 percentage points more likely to think the edited version would get published in a good academic journal.

What they're saying: "Making the writing easier to understand causes economists to evaluate academic papers more positively," write Jan Feld, Corinna Lines, and Libby Ross. "This finding has obvious implications. To improve your chances of publishing well, you can work on your writing by, for example, spending time polishing your paper and paying for language editing."

  • "These efforts are likely to be particularly valuable if you find writing challenging," they write.
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