Guide to Economics Literature
As in many other disciplines, new research in economics usually appears first in scholarly journals. Papers submitted to journals for possible publication are typically sent by the editor to two or three referees (or reviewers) for evaluation. Referees are experts in the subject area of the paper, typically college or university professors. To ensure an unbiased evaluation, most journals use a "blind" referee process, whereby the author is not told the identity of the referees. Some journals use a "double-blind" process, whereby the referees are not told the identity of the author, either. After receiving the evaluations, the editor decides whether to publish the paper, suggest revisions and encourage resubmission of a revised paper, or reject the paper outright. The time from original submission to publication is usually at least one year.
Most of the following journals are available at Cowles Library. All other economics journals may be accessed by interlibrary loan or through Cowles Library online sources.
Top journals. Almost anyone's list of the top journals in economics would probably include the following. However, articles in these journals are mostly quite technical and hard to read for nonspecialists.
- American Economic Review. Published by the American Economic Association. This journal publishes articles in all fields of economics.
- Journal of Political Economy. Published by the University of Chicago Press. This journal publishes articles in all fields of economics.
- Econometrica. Published by the Econometric Society, an international society of econometricians and mathematical economists. These two groups no longer overlap much, but they did when the Society was founded in 1930. All articles in this journal are extremely technical and inaccessible except to specialists. In fact, almost no one can understand all the articles in any particular issue!
- Quarterly Journal of Economics. Published by the Harvard University Press. This journal publishes articles in all fields of economics.
More accesssible journals. The following journals rank slightly lower in quality, but are easier to read and often cover topics of clear policy relevance.
- Economic Inquiry. Published by the Western Economic Association. Includes articles in all fields of economics.
- Southern Economic Journal. Published by the Southern Economic Association. Includes articles in all fields of economics.
- Journal of Law and Economics. Published by the University of Chicago Press. This journal focuses on issues relating law and economics, such as antitrust, regulation, property rights, and so forth. The articles use hardly any math or statistics.
- Journal of Economic History. Published by the Economic History Association.
- Explorations in Economic History.Published by the Cliometric Society, another association of economic historians.
- Industrial and Labor Relations Review. A multidisciplinary journal published by Cornell University's New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Economics articles typically include report empirical (statistical) studies using regression analysis.
- Journal of Human Resources. A labor economics journal published by the University of Wisconsin. Articles typically include report empirical (statistical) studies using regression analysis.
Survey journals. The following journals focus on summarizing and evaluating an existing body of research, rather than reporting new research. Papers are usually invited, rather than submitted at the author's initiative.
- Journal of Economic Literature. Published by the American Economic Association. This journal has a special function: it indexes articles from all other journals. It also publishes "survey" articles that summarize research in particular areas, and book reviews.
- Journal of Economic Perspectives. Also published by the American Economic Association. This journal is deliberately kept at a low technical level (hardly any equations). Special departments include current policy issues and economics teaching methods.
Classics of economic thought
The Archive for the History of Economic Thought at McMaster University offers links to classic works posted on-line.