THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC EDUCATION
1996 ANNUAL REPORT
Economists as Economic Educators
Features and Information
The role of economists as economic educators and the centrality of the Journal of Economic Education to the mission of economists as educators are the focus of this annual report. Economic educators' use of the new JEE World Wide Web site is highlighted. Data are presented that enable an assessment of the JEE's efforts to fulfill its mission in 1996 and over it 27-year history. The types of activities that define the research, content, instruction, qualitative studies, and features and information sections of the JEE are discussed. Two figures and five tables are included to show the level of JEE activities this year and to make possible yearly comparisons. Information on usage of the JEE web site is provided in Figure 1 and Figure 2. The contents of each of the quarterly issues, along with the allocation of pages to each of the sections, are summarized in Table 1. The mix of authors and their institutional affiliations is shown in Table 2. The number of manuscripts processed and the rates of manuscript acceptance are in Table 3. The referees used over the past year are identified in Table 4. The time required to process published papers is given in Table 5. Finally, three tables on pricing, circulation, and subscriptions are provided by the JEE publisher, Heldref Publications, a division of the nonprofit Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation.
Economists have been singled out as particularly contemptuous of teaching (see footnote 1). But as this Journal attests, economists are not ignoring economic education. Their work on the teaching of economics is innovative and recognized, although not necessarily appreciated by those who are missing the current realities within the education community.
Economists are easy targets for criticism when it comes to teaching. This is especially so given what some of our luminaries have said about education. For example, Nobel Laureate George Stigler was strident in promoting the view that teaching is akin to pontification. McCloskey reports on an exchange between George Stigler and Milton Friedman in which Stigler called Friedman a preacher (see footnote 2). Stigler argued that people will find their own self-interest with or without teaching and that no amount of preaching about economics would change that. But Nobel Laureate Friedman came to the defense of teaching and argued that while individuals pursue their self-interest they are often ignorant and require education to see that something thought to be in their personal or national interest was not.
Although Stigler regarded teaching as preaching, he was a contributor to the JEE, writing a seminal piece in 1970 on the case for economic education (see footnote 3). He argued that "economics belongs in everyone's education once we have learned how to teach it." But because the logic of economics is not easy to learn or teach, he concluded that "Economics is not yet ready to be made a part of the basic curriculum of all educated men." Other leading economists did not give up in despair; they devoted their energies to developing teaching materials, as epitomized by Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, who wrote: "I don't care who writes a nation's laws -- or crafts its advanced treaties -- if I can write its economics textbooks (see footnote 4).
Economists do not have to be textbook authors to make a contribution to economic education and be rewarded for it. All academic economists have the potential to make research and curricular contributions to economic education. But does this type of work count as "economics?" If the work is published in journals that have proven themselves central to the advancement of economics, the answer must be yes.
Marlin and Durden provide journal listings and article counts of where economists are publishing in economic education research (see footnote 5). The primary outlet is the Journal of Economic Education. The JEE is ranked 27th out of the 130 economics journals considered by Laband and Piette in their study of the manner in which articles in each of these 130 journals cite articles in the other 129 journals (see footnote 6). That is, after making adjustments for article length and page size corrections, the number of adjusted citations to the JEE (in articles published in the other 129 journals in 1990, to articles published in the JEE in the 1985-1989 period) places the JEE 27th on a listing of like counts for all 130 journals.
Although the JEE is among the top 27 journals in economics, the JEE is occasionally overlooked by some who profess an interest in knowledge creation. For example, Scott and Mitias failed to include the JEE in their list of the top 36 journals in economics (see footnote 7). In the construction of their list, they begin with Graves, Marchand and Thompson's list of 24 journals (see footnote 8). They then drop three and add 15 "of the newer, highly respected journals." For reasons they do not explain, they retain journals like the National Tax Journal (ranked 27th of 50 in 1970, 34th of 108 in 1980, and 75th of 130 in 1990) and add journals that have not achieved the rank of the JEE. Unfortunately, many department chairs and deans blindly accept such lists of "highly respected journals" without ever asking for the quantitative measure on which they are based.
Those working in the economic education vineyards must work to enlighten colleagues, chairs, and deans who are unfamiliar with the quantitative evidence on publishing activity in economics. Citation counts, which can be considered an academic market version of dollar voting by consumers, clearly indicate that the JEE is not only the source of information on the teaching of economics, it is also now central to the discipline of economics. These citation counts show that economists are not universally ignoring the teaching of their discipline.
Citation counts are only one index of the JEE's contribution to economics. As demonstrated by those accessing the new JEE World Wide Web site, the JEE is becoming the source of information on the teaching of economics around the world. In Figure 1 is the January 1996 to November 1996 count of the top 20 countries whose scholars have been accessing the JEE site at
Scholars from some 75 countries access this JEE URL each month. Although the exact meaning or intent of a "hit" is not known, the global interest in this JEE service is encouraging.
On the JEE home pages, web users find the tables of contents, abstracts, and author information on past and future issues. We now have article abstracts published since 1984, and abstracts of manuscripts recently accepted for the publication queue. In addition to information on articles and their authors, the JEE web site contains the last seven years of annual reports, information on subscribing, and submission details that include the style sheet. Web users can search this information via keyword entries in the JEE search engine or by scrolling. Since the inception of the JEE URL in April 1995, the number of accesses to its contents has increased from 553 hits per month to 3,976 hits per month, as seen in Figure 2. A study currently underway by Bill Becker and Julie Marker is aimed at determining more about who is using the JEE home pages and what information is sought. They hope to answer questions like "Which schools are making use of the JEE WWW services?" "Which economists authoring articles in the JEE are of interest to web surfers?" And "Which section of the JEE (Research, Instruction, Content, Features and Information, and Qualitative Studies) attracts the most attention on the web?"
In addition to evidence on citation counts and web usage, each of the editors of the JEE is contributing directly to the advancement of economic education within economics. This year for example, associate editors Hirschel Kasper and Peter Kennedy and editor Bill Becker were each featured presenters at the University of Miami (Ohio) conference on the teaching and use of quantitative methods in economics. Associate editors Bill Walstad and Michael Watts continued their active involvement with the National Council on Economic Education's international programs. Associate editor Myra Strober will become President of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) at the January ASSA meetings. The JEE editors are taking steps to ensure that the JEE stays central to economics. The remainder of this report addresses the efforts of each of the section editors in more detail.
Peter Kennedy, Professor of Economics, Simon Fraser University, is the associate editor of the research section. Peter's goal is to publish original theoretical and empirical studies that deal with the analysis and evaluation of teaching and learning methods and materials. We are indebted to Simon Fraser University for the support it has provided Peter in his active pursuit of this goal.
In 1996 there have been 33 manuscripts submitted for the research section, which is slightly more than the average yearly submission count for the past three years. Of the manuscripts submitted in 1996, seven have been recommended for publication. Peter recommended an additional three articles for publication that had been submitted in previous years for a total of 10 manuscripts scheduled for publication. Peter's three-year acceptance rate of 23.6 percent seems close to ideal for the quality level Peter is advancing. Peter typically works with authors through several revisions before his recommendation for publication is forthcoming. For example, at the initiative of Bob Highsmith (former National Council on Economic Education Vice President for Program and Research), Peter worked for well over a year with the authors of five papers devoted to precollege instruction to make them ready for the Spring 1997 issue.
Also this year, at Peter's urging, the JEE adopted a policy that authors will be expected to make their data available to those who request it from them after the publication of the article. A notice to that effect is to appear in the style sheet that is periodically placed in the JEE. We are continuing to consider alternative ways to ensure data availability to all those seeking to replicate and extend studies published in the JEE.
The proportion of pages going to the research section was 12.4 percent in 1996 (Table 1), a decrease from 14.1 percent in 1995 but consistent with past proportions: 22 percent in 1994, 12.8 percent in 1993, 20.8 percent in 1992, 6.1 percent in 1991, and 37 percent in 1990. The JEE will have a continuing presence within economics as the result of the coverage given empirical research in the JEE.
Michael Watts, Professor of Economics at Purdue University, is associate editor of the instruction section. In the instruction section, Mike works to publish articles, notes, and communications describing innovations in pedagogy, hardware, materials, and methods for teaching traditional subject matter. Thanks are due to Mike and those with whom he works at the Krannert School of Management, where Dean Dennis Weidenaar was once a JEE associate editor.
The entire 1996 Spring issue was devoted to the teaching of macroeconomics at the undergraduate level. These topical issues have proven important in building the recognition of the JEE among academic economists. Bill Becker and Mike Watts are planning on extending that outreach with a book reflecting the best of teaching techniques that have been featured in the JEE. Their project is being supported by a grant from the Kazanjian Foundation, for which thanks are expressed.
Mike recommended a total of 13 articles for publication in 1996 (Table 3). Of the 37 new submissions none have yet been recommended for publication, but 11 have been reviewed by two or more referees and judged inappropriate. Over the past three years, 39.1 percent of the articles reviewed in the instruction section have been accepted for publication. This relatively high acceptance rate reflects the success we have had in inviting and packaging groups of articles that address topical issues. In 1996, 37.1 percent of the published pages went to the instruction section. This was an increase from last year, but within the historic limits: 24 percent in 1990, 21.1 percent in 1991, 20.4 percent in 1992, 46.25 percent in 1993, 21.7 percent in 1994, and 34.5 percent in 1995.
Hirschel Kasper, Professor of Economics at Oberlin College, is associate editor of the content section. Hirschel strives to publish articles that address contemporary issues, new ideas, and research findings in economics that may influence or can be incorporated into the teaching of economics. We express our thanks to Hirschel and to Oberlin College for the support it has provided the JEE over the past ten years that Hirsch has been an associate editor.
The content section accounted for 19.7 percent of the pages in 1996 (Table 1), which is within the range of past page proportions going to this section: 12.2 percent in 1995, 26.1 percent in 1994, 12.3 percent in 1993, 7.2 percent in 1992, 14.6 percent in 1991, and 15 percent in 1990. As stated earlier in this annual report, the centrality of the JEE to the discipline of economics is established. To a great extent, it is articles in the content section that keep our teaching focused on current and emerging ideas within the discipline. Identifying these ideas is a difficult task as seen in the fact that only 12.9 percent of the manuscripts submitted for the content section since January 1, 1994, have been accepted for publication. In 1996 Hirschel Kasper recommended three manuscripts for publication. Of the 26 new manuscripts submitted for the content section this year, seven have been rejected and 19 are still in review (Table 3).
William Walstad, Professor of Economics at the University of Nebraska, is the associate editor of the features and information section. In the features and information section, Bill works at publishing survey results, international and institutional comparisons, and analytical studies on the economics curriculum, instructional materials, practices in teaching, and academic economics. Bill and his team at the University of Nebraska have done much to advance economic education, for which they need to be thanked.
The Fall 1996 issue of the features and information section saw the publication of a series of articles on the decline of the undergraduate major in economics. This special topical issue was organized and initiated in 1995 with a call for papers by Michael Salemi (JEE board member and Chair of the AEA Committee on Economic Education). Selected papers were presented at the AEA meetings in San Francisco this past January. The news media covered this session, with next day headlines reading "Economists Fret Over Jobs, Their Own,"(Wall Street Journal, January 9, 1996). Bill Walstad is working on other projects to bring news media attention to the features and information section of the JEE.
The features and information section makes up a sizable portion of the pages in the JEE, with 20.6 percent of the page count in 1996. Historically, many of the articles published in the information section were invited articles aimed at fulfilling a specific need. The features and information section is now dominated by unsolicited manuscripts, with 31 papers submitted this year, of which 14 are still in review. The long-term acceptance rate of this section is 35.6 percent, which is a respectable rate and in keeping with the mission of the JEE.
Myra Strober is associate editor of the qualitative studies section. This section was established to publish studies that among other things use direct observation in analyzing the teaching and learning of economics. We are grateful to Myra and to Stanford University, where she is director of the Office of Research and Collaboration at the School of Education.
As stated last year, the qualitative section has not attracted the quantity of high-quality papers we expected following the publication of Myra's 1992 lead article with Allen Cook. Thus, we had planned to close the qualitative studies section because of lack of submissions. We will continue with the qualitative studies section at least until the invited papers coming in for a conference that was planned but not realized are processed.
Stanford University Professor John Pencavel joined the JEE editorial board in 1996. In addition to his role as editor of the American Economic Association's Journal of Economic Literature, John has been both a contributor and long-time supporter of the Journal of Economic Education. He is committed to the teaching of economics, and we are pleased that he accepted our invitation to serve on the JEE board.
Stepping off the JEE board this year is Marilyn Kourilsky. Marilyn was appointed to the JEE board when she was on the education faculty at the University of California; she is now active in other endeavors at the Kauffman Foundation. We thank Marilyn for her assistance and contributions to the JEE and know that she will continue to be active in education.
The relative increase in submissions from 116 to 146 this year is impressive. While once a concern we clearly are securing sufficient manuscripts to fill our four issues each year with quality articles on the teaching of economics. The lag in processing these manuscripts, however, cannot be overlooked (Table 3). Potential authors have learned that they must wait a year or more before seeing their accepted manuscripts in print (Table 5). The review and revision processes leading to acceptance also can take in excess of a year. The time required for reviews, comments, and suggestions provided by the associate editors and referees on manuscripts that they believe have promise for JEE readers is essential in the selection process. Furthermore, the time from submission to the first contact an author has with an associate editor regarding possible revision is not excessive and is typically well within three months (Table 5). Delays in publication are associated with the subsequent time for rewriting, reviewing, editing, and the length of the queue of accepted manuscripts waiting to be published.
The names and institutional affiliations of the 247 referees used in 1996 are listed in Table 4. Acknowledgment of a referee's work is not made until a final decision is made on a manuscript. Referees may see a manuscript several times before acknowledgment. In addition, within the same year, some referees generously contribute reviews for several manuscripts. The economic education community must express its deep appreciation for the assistance of all referees to the JEE. As has been the practice for the past thee years, Heldref Publications now expresses the JEE's gratitude to its referees with a complimentary copy of the Winter issue, which is the issue in which all referees listed in Table 4will be acknowledged.
Julie Marker is the executive secretary of the JEE at Indiana University. She is responsible for the electronic word processing, data management, and expediting and tracking of manuscripts. After working with Todd Swarthout in setting up the JEE World Wide Web home page, Julie has assumed full responsibility for maintaining and updating this Web site. She is a most efficient and effective office manager.
Suzanne Becker is assistant editor of the JEE. She works with editor Bill Becker in the editing function at Indiana University. Sue has a master's degree from the University of Minnesota. She has been editing manuscripts in economics and econometrics for well over 20 years. Together with Rosalind Springsteen at Heldref Publications, Sue makes sure that manuscripts are most readable and free of editorial errors.
Rosalind Springsteen is the JEE Managing Editor at Heldref Publications. Springsteen holds a master's degree from the University of Michigan in economics and was previously employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is Rosalind Springsteen, with the staff at Heldref, who ensures that the final JEE product is of the highest quality and in readers' hands in the season designated on the issue's cover.
Since 1981 Heldref Publications has been responsible for pricing, subscriptions, and the circulation of the JEE. The last three unnumbered tables at the back of this report contain data on these items as provided by Heldref. Regular individual subscriptions to the JEE are priced at $37.50 per year. The institution rate is $75.00 for the yearly four-issue subscription. As recently as 1989, individuals paid $23 and institutions paid $45. These dramatic price increases may in part account for the fall in subscriptions. In November, paid subscriptions were 1,287, with 1,232 copies of the fall issue circulated in November. (The peak circulation in 1995 reflected a promotional effort aimed at participants in the AEA/NCEE teacher training program.)
The JEE is no longer alone. Over the past several years, other periodicals devoted to economic education and the economics of education have entered the market. In addition, expanding free use of the JEE World Wide Web services as well as those coming on line through other Web servers may be cutting into subscriptions. These market changes must be watched closely and the editors and staff at Heldref Publications must be poised to respond. In recognition of competition, Heldref plans no price increase of the JEE in 1997 and is considering new marketing activities.
The subscription data provided by Heldref do not yet reflect the changes in Council and Center Directors' subscriptions. These subscriptions are obtained as part of the registration procedure at the annual meeting of the National Council on Economic Education, which was held this year in Honolulu, Hawaii. This year 47 individual subscriptions were obtained from the NCEE network directors who subscribed at the special rate of $25 per year.
The JEE is in a positive cash flow position, with 1995 being the first full year in JEE history that Heldref was able to make a financial commitment to the editorial office at Indiana University. As exemplified by several publishing houses' inquiries into prospects for acquiring the JEE, the JEE has become a desired title within the publishing business. We have every reason to expect that its usefulness to economists and educators will continue to increase as we move more and more toward electronic publishing. Our concern, however, is how to keep the JEE in a positive cash flow position as the staff at Heldref and the JEE editors explore alternative forms of publishing.
The continuing support of the JEE by the National Council on Economic Education is most impressive, and NCEE President and JEE board member Robert Duvall needs to be thanked for his unwavering commitment to the JEE. JEE board member Michael Salemi, Chairman of the Economic Education Committee of the American Economic Association, is likewise playing a key role in bringing the prestige of the American Economic Association to the JEE.
This year marks the seventh year of support by Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences. Last year an internal review committee (David Ransel, George von Furstenberg, and M. Jeanne Peterson) concluded "that the JEE is making an important contribution to the economics profession," and recommended "that its publication and support be continued at Indiana University." COAS Dean Morton Lowengrub assures that barring any unforseen circumstance, the JEE will continue to be supported by COAS. For this vote of confidence Dean Lowengrub and the Review Committee must be thanked. Finally, we look forward to working with Robert Becker, the newly appointed chair of the department of economics at Indiana University. The continued involvement of all these individuals and organizations is essential to ensure the ongoing success of the Journal of Economic Education.
William E. Becker
December 2, 1996
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