...we present a descriptive overview of trends among the papers published in the 'top five' economics journals: The American Economic Review (AER), Econometrica (EMA), the Journal of Political Economy (JPE), The Quarterly Journal of Economics (QJE), and The Review of Economic Studies (RES).For starters;
...the total number of articles published in the top journals declined from about 400 per year in the late 1970s to around 300 per year in 2010-12. The combination of rising submissions and falling publications led to a sharp fall in the aggregate acceptance rate, from around 15% in 1980 to 6% today. Currently, QJE is the most selective of the top-five journals, with an acceptance rate of around 3%, followed by JPE and RES, with acceptance rates of around 5%. The least selective of the top-five are AER andEconometrica, with acceptance rates of around 8%.Which could be bad news for younger scholars;
Over time, and especially during the last 15 years, it has become increasingly difficult to publish in the top five journals. Other things equal, this suggests that hiring and promotion benchmarks based on top-five publications (e.g., “at least one top-five publication for tenure”) are significantly harder to reach.On the brighter side;
...the number of authors per paper has increased monotonically over time. In the early 1970s, three quarters of articles were single-authored, and the average number of authors in a paper was 1.3. By the early 1990s, the fraction of single-authored papers had fallen to 50%, and the mean number of authors reached 1.6. Most recently (2011-2012), more than three quarters of papers have at least two authors and the mean number of authors is 2.2. This shift worked to partly offset the decrease in the number of articles published per year. Indeed, weighting each paper by the number of co-authors, the number of authors with a top-five journal article in a given year is somewhat higher today than in the 1970s or 1980s.And, you can always start a blog.