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Who are the gatekeepers of economics? Geographic diversity, gender composition, and interlocking editorship of journal boards

Alberto Baccini and Cristina Re

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Abstract: This study investigates the role of editorial board members as gatekeepers in science, creating and utilizing a database of 1,516 active economics journals in 2019, which includes more than 44,000 scholars from over 6,000 institutions and 142 countries. The composition of these editorial boards is explored in terms of geographic affiliation, institutional affiliation, and gender. Results highlight that the academic publishing environment is primarily governed by men affiliated with elite universities in the United States. The study further explores social similarities among journals using a network analysis perspective based on interlocking editorship. Comparison of networks generated by all scholars, editorial leaders, and non-editorial leaders reveals significant structural similarities and associations among clusters of journals. These results indicate that links between pairs of journals tend to be redundant, and this can be interpreted in terms of social and intellectual homophily within each board, and between boards of journals belonging to the same cluster. Finally, the analysis of the most central journals and scholars in the networks suggests that journals probably adopt 'strategic decisions' in the selection of the editorial board members. The documented high concentration of editorial power poses a serious risk to innovative research in economics.

Date: 2023-04, Revised 2024-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen, nep-hme, nep-hpe, nep-net and nep-sog
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Published in Review of Political Economy, 2024

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