I got an article accepted in a journal today and, if my count is correct, it is number 150 for me. Since my first article was published in 1979, that’s an average rate of six a year, with a slowly increasing trend. It’s not a startling rate of output, given that I’ve held research-only jobs for most of those 25 years. Still, by the time you take acccount of rejections, resubmissions and so on, there’s a fair bit of work involved, and not that many people keep up the pace indefinitely.
Because I’ve been active for quite a while, and because my work doesn’t exactly fit the mainstream mould in either policy content or analytical style, I’ve accumulated a lot of rejection letters, more than anyone else I know of, in fact. My records aren’t good enough for a complete tally, but I’ve certainly had several hundred rejections – I once got three on one day. Some papers have been rejected half a dozen times or more before finding a home. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. Most high-grade journals in economics have rejection rates of 90 per cent or more, which implies the average paper must be rejected pretty often.
On a happier note, I’ve covered a lot of different topics and used a range of different approaches to economics, more than most of my colleagues. For example, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who’s published in both the Journal of Mathematical Economics and the (institutionalist) Journal of Economic Issues
fn1. I publish a fair bit of policy stuff, and there’s sometimes a bit of doubt as to whether the resulting paper counts as “refereed”. I usually err on the side of caution, but there are always marginal cases.
fn2. A lot of the time, it’s not so much that I’m challenging mainstream orthodoxy in a broad sense as that I don’t like the established way of doing this in some particular subfield, such as principal-agent theory.