Published papers in many of the economics journals have gotten much longer over the years. The Econometric Society journals Econometrica, Theoretical Economics, and Quantitative Economics, are no exception. The average length of a paper in Econometrica was about 12 pages in the 1970s, and is now about 36 pages, not including online appendices, with many papers over 50 pages. Some of this may be due to changes in technology, such as the increased ability to estimate complex models using large data sets, or the greater technical difficulty in some areas in theory or econometrics, but probably not all of it.
These trends are a concern to us. Although Econometrica now publishes considerably more pages than in the 1970s, it publishes fewer papers, while during the same period the number of submissions has gone up substantially. Longer papers are hard on the readers and the reviewers. They take longer to review, and often require more rounds of revisions. Also, in our view it is more challenging to maintain a high quality of writing (of both text and mathematical proofs) when the paper is very long.
We therefore will try to stop, and in fact try to reverse the trend and bring down the paper length (including online appendices). This will take effort on our part, but also requires a change in attitude from authors and reviewers. We encourage authors not to think of a typical Econometrica/QE/TE paper as a 30-40 page paper, but rather aim for a 20-30 page paper We will encourage reviewers to be restrained in their requests for additional analyses and results that will increase the paper length. On our part we will hold a harder line on paper length, including sending back submissions before having them reviewed if they are excessively long, and in revisions set stricter page limits. We are not imposing an overall page limit: the appropriate length may differ substantially between theory, econometrics, and empirical papers and also varies by content. We intend to do more than simply move material from the paper to the online appendices. We aim to reduce the overall length of the paper, including those appendices.
Guido Imbens (Editor Econometrica)
Ran Spiegler (Editor Theoretical Economics)
Chris Taber (Editor Quantitative Economics)