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If there is a heaven, the creators of the Dos Equis adverts about the most interesting man in the world will go there. In idle moments, I cannot help but recall some of them:
his two cents are worth $37 and change.
Which prompts one to wonder about what the most interesting Economist in the World is like. So has someone else. Therefore, imagine, the music of the Dos Equis ad playing in the background and the velvet voice of William Lyman purring:
He is the life of seminars that he has never attended.
He once submitted a paper to Econometrica under a pseudonym just to see what rejection felt like.
Adam Smith quotes him.
He is the most interesting Economist in the world.
In the last decade journals adapted e-systems to control the review process of papers. Authors use them to submit papers, associate editors to select referees, referees to download the paper and to upload their reports, once again authors to view the reports, and editors to know what goes on in their journal.
Unfortunately most e-systems are pain in the XXX. Registering to the e-system requires one to provide, for security reasons, his mother’s maiden name, so that the administrator of the journal can call one’s bank and get through; submitting a paper takes ages instead of simply e-mailing it to the editor as things used to be in the good old days; submitting a referee report requires one to choose between accept/minor revision/major revision/reject, but what if I one’s recommendation is “I do not know what your journal looks for, I would reject from Econometrica and accept to JET”?
For years I used to send my referee reports through e-mails and ignore the e-systems. This was easy, since as a referee the editors need me. But I am also an Associate Editor in some journals, and there I tried to get along with the e-systems.
I survived in the world of e-systems until Elsevier decided to consolidate all the accounts that we, authors, referees, and editors, have on its various journals. I simply could not get through the consolidation process. I did not understand why I need to provide the password of every single account that I have, and it is not enough to provide only one. I did not understand why I need to provide a security question, as if I enter the US and the immigration office at JFK looks at me suspiciously. Frustrated, I informed Felix Kubler, the previous editor-in-chief of JME, where I was an associate editor, that I am out of the game, and that if he wants me to handle a paper, I will gladly receive it through the good old e-mail.
But sometimes I am an author, and then nobody needs my help. Nevertheless, since I cannot use Elsevier’s e-system, I cannot submit papers to any of its journals. One option is to ask one of my dear coauthors to do it. Though this solution is tempting I (and I suspect that they as well) find it a little unfair. Therefore, when I wanted to submit a paper to GEB, I asked Jennifer Byrd, the managing editor of the journal, to upload it for me, and lo and behold, she was glad to do it.
I call all of you who cannot cope with the e-systems to abandon them as well. I do not see why we need to use horrible software that makes our life difficult. If editors will see that enough of us revert to e-mail, they will move back to this simple method.