Prominent researchers’ work gets published more easily2022-10-04
In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, my co-authors and I document bias in the peer review process that precedes the publication of research articles in scientific journals. Even if they are of equal quality, articles authored by prominent researchers get better ratings than articles authored by less well-known researchers.
Implementing an idea by Jürgen Huber (University of Innsbruck), leader of our research team, we conducted a simple experiment: Vernon Smith (Professor at Chapman University and Nobel Memorial Prize Laureate in Economics 2002) and Sabiou Inoua (junior post-doc researcher at Chapman University), who were both members of the research team, jointly authored a research article and submitted it to the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance for review. In my role as the editor of this journal and also a member of the research team, I sent invitations to review the article to a total of 3300 experts in the field. A total of 534 accepted the invitation to review and submitted a review report. While all reviewers received the same article for their evaluation, they received different information about who had authored the article. One group was informed that Nobel prize laureate Vernon Smith was one of the authors. Another group was informed that junior researcher Sabiou Inoua was one of the authors. A third group did not receive any information about the authors.
Reviewers with different types of information about the article’s authors evaluated the quality of the research article markedly differently. Of the reviewers who had received no information about the article’s authors ("AA" in the figure below), 48.2% recommended against publishing the article. This proportion was even higher among the reviewers who had been informed that one of the authors was the relatively unknown junior researcher ("AL"); here 65.3% recommended against publication. Yet of the reviewers who had been informed that one of the authors was Nobel prize laureate Vernon Smith ("AH"), only 22.5% recommended against publication.
Rudolf Kerschbamer (University of Innsbruck), another member of our research team, traces the source of the different evaluations to the “halo-effect”. This term from social psychology describes the phenomenon that we tend to evaluate the actions and work of someone more favorably when we are favorably disposed towards this person. Christian König genannt Kersting (University of Innsbruck), also a member of our research team, considers the results to constitute an important trigger to start rethinking the scientific review process: “As researchers, we are constantly working on improving our methods and processes. Our results have met great interest from the academic community and many editors of scientific journals are already testing new methods for evaluating and ensuring the quality of research findings.”
Talk about the Matthew Effect in peer-review2022-08-12
I recently gave an online talk in the METRICS International Forum seminar at Stanford University, presenting "Testing the Matthew Effect in peer-review". You can watch the recording using the link below. My thanks to Mario Malički and Robert Thibault for inviting me and to the audience for the fruitful discussion!
Journal impact factor 2022-07-13
The Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance (JBEF), which I have been co-editing since 2018 together with my co-editor Michael Dowling, received its first impact factor of 8.222 at the end of July. This places the journal at rank 5 out of 111 finance journals and rank 13 out of 379 economics journals. In addition to the CiteScore of 6.1 (rank 28/299 in Finance) and ABDC-list ranking of "A", this is a huge recognition for a journal that was only founded in 2014.
I wish to thank all associate editors, editorial board members, reviewers and authors who have made this amazing result possible!
New Paper on Insider Trading and Short Selling Regulation 2022-04-21
Modern capital markets are subject to many interventions and regulations, some of which curtail the implementation of specific trading strategies in a market. While we understand much of these regulations’ individual effects, the picture is less clear about their joint effects. A new paper, jointly authored by Robert Merl (University of Graz), Thomas Stöckl (MCI Management Center Innsbruck) and myself considers the interaction of two regulations, namely rules limiting shorting of assets and cash, and rules limiting insider trading. For these regulations, prior research shows spikes in short-selling activity around the revelation of insider information, which different studies trace to different causes. Among other results, we find that both allowing short positions and allowing informed trading causes informed traders to increase their market activity and causes mispricing and spreads to diminish. Nevertheless, we find no evidence for significant interaction effects between the two regulations.
Merl, R., Stöckl, T., Palan, S., 2022. "Insider trading regulation and shorting constraints. Evaluating the joint effects of two market interventions", Journal of Banking and Finance, 106490, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbankfin.2022.106490.