Real-Time Debates

I made this piece a standalone contribution instead of a comment to Tiago’s post on Blogs, mainly for its length and for increased visibility (see why below). As Tiago points out, “most of the action in blogs happens tucked away in the comments sections” and their “social/collaborative dimension is the one with the greatest potential to change, to improve and to make a profound intellectual impact.” I agree, but let me stress that their social/antagonistic dimension must not be underplayed. After all, who doesn’t love a heated economic squabble? The progress of economics has been marked by debates about mercantilism, socialist calculation, marginalism, monetarism, rationality assumptions…

Blogs empower (almost) real-time debates. (For the sake of comparison: though Mises’ 1920 seminal article surely received early responses, Lange’s challenge came in 16 years later, and Hayek’s contributions to the socialist calculation debate went on well into the 60’s.) Of course, debates can linger on for years even in the digital arena, too. And, at any rate, debates do not simply pop up because there is a convenient way to debate (though that helps).

All this lengthy introduction to make just two points:

i) Indeed, blogs should be better (understood and then) valued for their contribution to the advancement of the discipline. Yet, I agree with Tim Kane that “it’s still probably not advisable for graduate students or junior faculty to blog instead of focus on tenurable research … for now”.

ii) There should exist some way to transfer the livelihood of blogs and real-time debates into academic journals. In fact, there exists one I know of. So, the increased visibility of a standalone post is to promote a brand new graduate journal: the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics.

ejpe-logo-300x161The only thing graduate about the journal is that the three editors (Tyler DesRoches, Luis Mirels-Flores, and Tom Wells) are graduate students at EIPE. Other than that, it is an extraordinary product of the highest academic standards… with several extras:

* Aris Spanos’ ten pages worth of fierce reviewing/bashing of McCloskey and Ziliak’s latest book on statistical significance. And, of course, the even fiercer fighting back of the authors.

* Maurice Lagueux’s provocative dissecting of Don Ross’ new book on microexplanation, with Don Ross’ own reply.

* Cristina Marcuzzo’s inaugural address as this year’s President of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought.

* An underrated means for conveying histories, stories, and ideas: an interview with Uskali Mäki.

* Summaries of recent PhD dissertations in the history and philosophy of economics.

… and much more.

I followed closely the early developments of the journal, but I admit to not having seen coming anything this good, really. If you think this is petty marketing, be informed that the entire EJPE project is open access. So, stop reading this already, and go take a look at the first issue.

4 thoughts on “Real-Time Debates

  1. I know at least one other example of an academic journal that was founded by young scholars (some having barely graduated) to reflect debates the had between them: The Review of Economic Studies, founded in 1933 by Abba Lerner, Ursula Webb and Paul Sweezy. The content of the first issues reflected the theoretical debates they had between themselves at the LSE – sometimes to the incomprehension of their senior professors -, and with the young scholars at Cambridge who tried to lecture them. Few people understood them at the time. Viner told them it would never work, as there were already too many available journals, Robinson used to call it “the little green horror”. Now it is the eighth-ranked economics journal in overall impact. So, well, I can only wish you a similar accomplishment.
    Yet I have one reservation. Should a journal devoted to young scholars include contributions by people like Maurice Lagueux and Maria Cristina Marcuzzo? I have nothing against these people in particular. It’s just that there are other journals in which they can publish their work. Contributions by Lionel Robbins or Friedrich Hayek would not have been expected in the first issues of the ReStud.

  2. I would jump in here and disagree with the point on blogging and question the one about journals… [all links at the bottom, because I can’t see the link option]

    On Blogging, I disagree with the conclusions of Tim Kane and the panel, and do so because I think that if treated professionally, junior faculty blogs will expose you to a) a much wider readership b) new opportunities in terms of collaborative work and popular press and c) sharpen your thinking on any subject through increased debate. Chris Blattman and Stephen Kinsella’s blogs are both excellent examples of interesting junior faculty economics blogs, with a growing readership, and they have both written about how blogging has influenced their work, and name many more reasons why it is a useful thing.

    Now for ‘Graduate journals’… I share Alessandro’s skepticism about calling the EJPE a ‘student journal’, but do so on the basis of their reviewers and the benefit it confers onto students rather than the articles. I also take exception to Alessandro’s implied message that “Other than [the student editors], it is an extraordinary product of the highest academic standards”… Why shouldn’t a student journal be of the highest standards? (Oh, and it is not ‘just’ students on the editorial board, there’s even an academic supervisor)

    I accept that this is also a plug for his own article in the journal – congratulations ! – but I fail to see how the journal will benefit the graduate students of Erasmus University, or the wider graduate student / young academic community? This should be the benchmark of a student journal, not the publication of something refereed only by established academics, supervised by a long time professor.

    A student journal should – to my mind – include students as reviewers to train them in that crucial part of being an academic. It should thrive on student submissions to teach about the review process, and could then aim to promote student learning as well as academic excellence. Two graduate journal comes to my mind, Oeconomicus at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and the New School Economic Review from the New School, New York. The EJPE may be a great publication, but I fail to see how it is a student journal – at least yet…

    Chris Blattman on Blogging:
    Stephen Kinsella on Blogging:
    New School Economic Review:

  3. Oh, on re-reading and in the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am one of the editors at the New School Journal – that’s just to preempt the post pointing out my possible self-interests 🙂

  4. It’s great to see our little (EJPE) journal making some waves in conversations like this! In fact one of our aims in starting the journal was to generate more talk and mutual interest between economists and philosophers, beyond the usual fairly specialised channels. In that respect we are not ‘devoted’ to graduate students nor do we think of ourselves as a student journal in terms of our standards or ambitions. The most important criteria for inclusion are that the content of the article is interesting (original, relevant, and important) and scholarly sound, and we wouldn’t want to restrict submissions for any other reasons.

    But we do think that graduate students and recent graduates generally are the most excited about inter-disciplinary research and thus our most natural audience and contributors. So we do quite like them (!) and we’ve tried to make ourselves friendlier to grad student contributions than most of the better established journals. That includes for example following up exciting conference presentations by grad students by asking them to submit a paper, and often opting to take a nurturing editorial approach to an interesting but flawed paper. Graduate students (from Erasmus & elsewhere!) are also involved as invited book reviewers and as 1 of the peer-reviewers for each article (there is always at least 1 established academic reviewer too), so they do benefit from that kind of experience too.

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