1990 Annual Report, Journal of Economic Education

Table of Contents


The 1990 summer issue of The Journal of Economic Education was the first edited by William Becker, who succeeded Kalman Goldberg as the Editor of the JEE in August 1989. As stated in last year's report, this change in editorship was not expected to result in any dramatic change in the format, content or procedures of the JEE, although some change in the composition of the board of editors was anticipated.

This report first discusses the initiatives taken this year on editorial board membership. It then discusses several tables that show the scope and level of activities conducted. These tables are appended at the end of this report. Table 1 summarizes the content of issues published in the past year and shows the balance achieved in the research, content, instruction, and the professional information sections of the JEE. Table 2 presents the mix of authors and their institutional affiliations. Table 3 shows the number of manuscripts processed and the rates at which manuscripts have been accepted. Table 6 provides a break down of research related articles published in economic education in the 1970s versus the 1980s. Information in these four tables is considered in the following sections of this report under the headings of research, content and instruction. Table 4 lists the referees used over the past year and Table 5 gives the time required to process published papers. Tables 4 and 5, along with the two pages of Heldref information on subscriptions, are discussed in the last section of this report, under the heading editorial matters.

Associate Editors and Editorial Board

As planned, changes in the board of editors were initiated in 1990. First, Kalman Goldberg has continued as a member of the board of editors. For his past contribution as editor of the JEE, he was honored on December 28, 1989, at a luncheon at the Allied Social Science meeting in Atlanta.

Second, at the annual meeting of the associate editors in February, they agreed that it was redundant to be listed as both editors and board members. Thus, the associate editors are no longer listed in both functions. In addition, terms of service were confirmed with the following expiration dates.

Associate Editor-----------------Current term Expires

Robin Bartlett-------------------December, 1991

Hirschel Kasper------------------December, 1992

Peter Kennedy--------------------December, 1992

Michael Watts--------------------December, 1991

Third, board members whose terms ended this year were G. L. Bach, Alan S. Blinder, George Dawson, Hennry Hermanowicz, Michael MacDowell, Edwin Mansfield, and Francis H. Schott. For the services to the JEE of all these distinguished leaders in economic education we are grateful. New members on the board this year are William Baumol, Elchanan Cohn, Eric Hanushek, Marilyn Kourilsky, Sherwin Rosen, John Siegfried, Robert Solow, William Walstad, and continuing members are Carolyn Shaw Bell, Stephen G. Buckles, Robert Eisner, Rendigs Fels, Kalman Goldberg, W. Lee Hansen, Allen C. Kelley, and Barbara Reagan. Past members of the board of editors together with the Joint Council on Economic Education and the American Economics Association Committee on Economic Education have done an excellent job nurturing the JEE. We have high expectations for the advancement of the JEE with its current board and continuing cooperative arrangement with the JCEE and AEA Committee.


Peter Kennedy, Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University, is associate editor of the research section. The quality of articles in the research section has continued to improve under Kennedy's direction. In September of this year, Kennedy entered the second phase of his program to improve quality by tightening his screening process. Under his new experimental review system, Peter expects that fewer papers will receive extensive referee comments. He expects that many papers that previously were sent directly to referees now will be returned to the authors with suggestions for improvement from him. In more cases than in the past, however, he expects to recommend papers be rejected without additional referee reports.

Along with our efforts to continue to improve quality is a concern about the flow of papers to the research section. As can be seen in Table 3, there were 34 papers submitted in 1991, which is above the average yearly submission count for the past three years. The proportion of pages going to the research section was only 6.1 percent in 1991 (Table 1), while it was 8.8 percent in 1987, 20.3 percent in 1988, 20.0 percent in 1989, and 37 percent in 1990. As reported last year the Joint Council on Economic Education/Princeton University economic education program, with financial support from the Pew Charitable Trust, did much to encourage research at the precollege level in 1988, 1989 and 1990, with a special issue devoted to secondary economic education in 1990. At the same time, however, the number of submissions to the research section at the college level decreased notably.

To reverse the downward trend in college level economic education research submitted to the JEE, Kennedy led a writing team including Bill Becker, Robert Highsmith, and Bill Walstad in the preparation of a paper that outlines a research agenda. This paper was commissioned by the American Economic Association Committee on Economic Education and it was presented at the 1990 American Economic Association meetings in Washington, DC. It appeared in two different published forms: an abridged version in the American Economic Review Proceedings and the full version in the JEE summer issue. Together with the Test of Understanding of College Economics, which was also featured in the JEE summer issue, we expect this agenda for research at the college level to stimulate an increased flow of submissions to the research section.


Professor Hirschel Kasper is Associate Editor of the Content Section. In addition to our gratitude to Hirschel, thanks also must be given to his Department of Economics at Oberlin College for the resources it has provided to the JEE over the years that Professor Kasper has been an associate editor.

In the content section 22 manuscripts were processed this year, which is slightly fewer than in the past. The acceptance rate was also somewhat lower at 14.3 percent (Table 3). The content section accounted for 14.6 percent of the pages published in 1991 (Table 1), which represents a slight decrease in the number of pages published from last year. A downward trend is noticeable in the number of pages allocated to the content section -- 23.9 percent in 1988, 19.6 percent in 1989, 15 percent in 1990, and 14.6 percent in 1991.

As mentioned in previous annual reports, the JEE's ability to attract top articles in the content and instruction areas is being tested by publication of the Journal of Economic Perspectives by the American Economic Association. We are holding our own, with articles published this year by John Pencavel (Stanford) and other well-known economists. For next year we have articles by Elchanan Cohn (University of South Carolina), Susan Skeath, Ann Velenchik, Len Nichols and Karl Case (Wellesley College) as well as many others from top schools. Articles appearing in the content section are being cited and used as scholarly source material. John Pencavel's work on higher education's contribution to economic growth, for example, is to appear in an expanded version as a chapter in a volume edited by William Becker and Darrell Lewis, scheduled for publication in 1992 by Kluwer Academic Press.


As already stated Michael Watts is Associate Editor of the Instruction Section. The number of pages in the instruction section has been relatively consistent over the past several years -- 17.2 percent in 1988, 25.4 percent in 1989, 24 percent in 1990, and 21.1 percent in 1991 (Table 1). In the instruction section, however, 30 manuscripts were processed this year, which is slightly fewer than in the past; the acceptance rate has also fallen to 12.5 percent (Table 3).

As in the case of the content section, the JEE's ability to attract the best articles on teaching methods is being tested by the introduction of an economic education section in Economic Inquiry, although to date we have not seen real loss of well-recognized authors. If anything the quality of our authors has risen in the instruction section with articles by Donald D. Hester (University of Wisconsin) and James Scoville (University of Minnesota) published this year.

Looking to the future, there is a special topic section being planned on the use of experimental economics in the college classroom. Bill Becker has proposed a symposium on the use of mathematics and verbal communication skills in the teaching of economics at the college level with papers presented to be published in the JEE. To date, however, the JCEE has not secured funding for this proposal. Michael Watts and Becker, following a brainstorming meeting on September 21, 1991, with board member Bill Walstad, also wrote a proposal for a symposium on the teaching of intermediate micro- and macroeconomics, with the proceedings to be published in the JEE. Funding for both these proposals is being sought.

Professional (and Qualitative Studies)

Professor Robin Bartlett has been the associate editor of the professional and book review section for the past eight years. This past summer marked the end of her term with a special topical issue of the JEE devoted to her section. For this issue, Bartlett in cooperation with the Committee on Economic Education of the American Economic Association arranged for 22 authors to contribute to 11 different articles and comments on undergraduate instruction and assessment. Papers were presented at the 1990 annual meetings of the American Economic Association in Washington, DC, with abridged versions of lead articles published in the American Economic Review May proceedings and full papers and comments published in the extended JEE summer issue.

Given that 1,092 of the 1,545 subscriptions Heldref can identify by type are associated with college and university libraries and departments, it is important to renew the JEE emphasis on college level issues. The special summer 1991 issue of invited contributors on undergraduate economic education does this. Many other articles published in the information section have been invited articles aimed at fulfilling a specific need. As a result, the acceptance rates shown in Table 3 must be treated with care. Table 3 shows only partial acceptance rates for this section, because special features and book reviews (typically written by invitation) are excluded from the computation.

Although not all the papers recommended by Bartlett for publication in the professional information section will be published by the end of this year, they will appear in the new section for which Myra Strober will be the associate editor. As already discussed, this section will be called Qualitative Studies. It will continue to feature invited articles but unlike the professional information section that it replaces, it will have a focus on descriptions of the teaching and learning processes. This emphasis will not include formal statistical tests of specific hypotheses because such studies are currently reviewed in the research section. Similarly, innovations in pedagogical techniques and materials will continue to be reviewed in the instruction section. It will continue, however, to feature occasional book reviews and survey information of general interest to academic economists and economic educators.

Editorial Matters

The associate editors and referees devote a significant amount of time assisting potential authors. Their reviews, comments, and suggestions for the revision of papers that they believe have promise for JEE readers are an essential part of the editorial process. Less dedicated reviewers would have rejected out-of-hand some papers that have been transmuted by their advice. Nonetheless, as stated by Rebecca Blank in her American Economic Review (December 1991, p. 1063.) article, the JEE and the other 15 journals that use double-blind systems for reviewing do have lower acceptance rates and more critical referee reports than the 22 single-blind journals she considered.

Table 4 lists the names and institutional affiliations of the 221 referees used in 1991. The economic education community must express its deep appreciation for their extraordinary help to the JEE. The JEE continues to express its gratitude, more symbolic than substantive, with an occasional complimentary copy of the JEE and in rare cases of special contributions, with a gratis subscription for one year.

In the early days of the JEE the concern was with accumulating a sufficient number of papers of acceptable quality to fill two issues per year. The information in Table 5 suggests that such is not the case now. Authors must wait a year or more to see their manuscripts in print because of the length of the queue of accepted articles. The review and revision process leading to acceptance also can take a year or more. Although this time to publication is not unusual relative to other top quality journals, it is a source of both pride and concern. As long as the publisher's limit of 96 pages per issue is binding our queue will not be shortened greatly; the lower acceptance rates shown in Table 3, however, may begin to shorten the queue a little.

Assisting William Becker in the editing function at Indiana University is Suzanne Becker. Sue has a masters degree from the University of Minnesota and she has edited Bill's work for years. As acknowledged by economic education researchers, all JEE authors are now benefiting from her insights. At Indiana University, the electronic word processing, data management and the expediting and tracking of manuscripts is handled by Elaine Yarde. Elaine has proved to be a most effective executive secretary and has earned the respect of those with whom she communicates.

At Heldref Publications, Rosalind Springsteen is the Managing Editor for the JEE. Springsteen holds a masters degree from the University of Michigan in economics and was previously employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She is extremely competent. She knows what has to be done to produce a readable and timely journal and she gets the job done. It is Rosalind Springsteen who insures that the final JEE product is of the highest quality and in readers' hands in the season designated on the issue's cover. Since the summer of 1990 each of the quarterly issues has been published on time. We are all appreciative of Rosalind Springsteen's effort and that of the entire team at Heldref.

Promotion and Circulation

Last December at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association John Siegfried, Chairman of the AEA Committee on Economic Education met with the 111 chairs of the major economics departments to promote the Journal of Economic Education and report on events in economic education. Also while at the AEA meetings Bill Becker and Stephen Buckles met with the staff at Heldref to encourage Heldref to expand its promotion of the JEE. These activities mark the beginning of a planned effort to increase the visibility of the JEE among academic economists in higher education.

In June, Bill Becker sent an individualized follow-up letter, with a special introductory offer, to each of the 111 chairs of economics departments who attended the AEA luncheon. In September, Robert Highsmith, Program Director at the Joint Council on Economic Education, mailed a general "Dear Colleague" letter from Becker along with brochures and a copy of the Siegfried, et al., article on the undergraduate major from the summer issue to 750 department chairs. In September, Heldref Publications mailed a general "Dear Colleague" letter from Becker and a new two-color brochure with return envelope to 16,340 American Economic Association members.

As of December 9, 1991, 115 new paid orders have been received as well as 13 bill me requests. Susan Peikin, Promotion Director at Heldref, expects that new orders will continue to come in until the end of the year and then go dormant in January. In addition to Susan Peikin, others at Heldref involved in this promotional effort include Karen Eskew (Art Director), Joanne Reynolds (Production Director) and Rosalind Springsteen (JEE Managing Editor).

The last two pages attached to this report contain circulation data. Total active subscribers now total 1,553, with 1,515 paid subscriptions. This is an all time high, which is extremely impressive given that 1991 has been a year of highly constrained budgets for institutions of higher education. Joint Council on Economic Education network members were again given the opportunity to "check-off" a subscription, at a special rate ($18/year), as part of the registration procedure for the annual meeting of the Joint Council. This year 68 subscriptions were obtained from the JCEE network, which is one subscription less than the all- time high reached last year. These JCEE network subscriptions are not yet reflected in the total subscription figures reported by Heldref.

Heldref is satisfied with the financial position of the JEE. This is especially so now that the regular subscription rate has been raised to $30 for individuals, and $55 for institutions. Although Heldref would obviously like to increase paid ads, the JCEE and the JEE editor are in the process of negotiating a contract that specifies that no more than a fixed number of pages will be devoted to ads.

Closing Comments

The support of the Joint Council on Economic Education continues to be outstanding. It is reassuring to all engaged in the publication of the JEE that JCEE President Steve Buckles and JCEE Vice President for Programs and Research Robert Highsmith are unreservedly strong advocates. JEE Board member John Siegfried, Chairman of the Economic Education Committee of the American Economic Association, is playing a key role in bringing the prestige of the AEA to economic education and the JEE. Finally, Phillip Saunders, Chairman of the Department of Economics at Indiana University has been instrumental in securing the resources necessary to house the editorial office at Indiana University. The support of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University is likewise gratefully acknowledged. The continued involvement of all these individuals and organizations is essential to insure the future success of the Journal of Economic Education.


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