Journal of Economic Literature

ISSN 0022-0515 (Print) | ISSN 2328-8175 (Online)

Editorial Policy

The purpose of the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) is to help economists keep abreast of economics research. To this end, the journal publishes analytic guides to bodies of work, review essays, book reviews, annotations of new books, and a December list of current dissertations.

Philosophy and Style

The journal's analytic guides and review essays seek to synthesize recent research on topics of broad interest within the profession. A successful JEL article has four features: It clearly addresses the question of "why we should care," is accessible, offers selective coverage of the relevant literature, and provides a synthesis of the literature that is covered. The intended audience is professional economists but not just those working in the subject area of any given paper.

Analytic Guides

Most articles are commissioned by the editor, though unsolicited articles are sometimes published. Those interested in writing an article for JEL are requested to begin with an outline of roughly ten pages (not counting references), describing the contents of the proposed article, stating why the topic is deserving of our readers' attention, and listing the main references to be covered.

If the editor feels that the topic is of potential interest for the journal, the outline will be sent to referees who are experts in the field. If they believe that the outline could lead to a promising JEL article, the author is then invited to write it. The full article also is refereed. Most of the articles that have appeared in the journal have gone through several rounds of revision before being ready for publication.

For more information about submitting a proposal to the Journal of Economic Literature, see Guidelines for Proposals.

Review Essays

Review essays are scholarly works which consider one or more recently published books of particular importance and make an original contribution to the literature. JEL review essays are commissioned by the editor and appear in the articles section of the journal. The journal does not publish unsolicited review essays.

Book Reviews

JEL book reviews inform a wide readership of professional economists, explaining what the book is about and enabling a prospective reader to decide whether to read the book. Most reviews are short (around 900 words).

Books that are well-researched and make original contributions to economics will tend to be those selected for review. Textbooks will not be reviewed. Collections of previously published articles will not be reviewed unless some value is added by bringing the articles together. Edited volumes such as festschrifts and conference volumes will be reviewed only if they are in some way distinctive; an edited volume is more likely to be reviewed if it covers a single, coherent theme rather than mixing papers on a wide assortment of topics.

As a matter of policy, the journal does not publish unsolicited reviews, nor does it accept offers to review specific books. JEL does not publish rebuttals or comments on book reviews. The journal does, however, welcome general expressions of interest from American Economic Association members who would like to review books.

How the Order of Items in the Journal Is Determined 

The order in which papers appear in the "Articles" section of each issue is determined by the editor. The paper that appears first (the "lead article") is one that the editor particularly wants to call attention to, based on such factors as the importance of the questions it addresses and its analysis, as well as the quality of its presentation. The order of the subsequent articles is based on a range of factors. The editor's assessment of the importance of the articles continues to play a large role (particularly for the first few articles after the lead article). Other factors are the time since articles were accepted (with higher priority to ones accepted earlier), their length (with higher priority to shorter articles), and the relation among articles (with an effort to place related articles together). "Review essays" are generally, but not always, placed at the end of the "Articles" section. Items in the "Book Review" section are ordered alphabetically by the first author of the book being reviewed.

Bibliographic Indexes

JEL includes an annotated listing of English-language books with economic content that are over 60 pages in length. Books should be sent free of charge to the JEL editorial office or provided as a PDF by email.

Complete indexing and abstracting of articles published in economics (currently from over 1,000 journals) is available electronically on EconLit. A subset of this information (covering about 210 journals) appeared in the printed Journal of Economic Literature through December 1999.

The December issue of JEL includes a list of recipients of doctoral degrees in economics conferred in US and Canadian universities during the previous academic year. This list includes dissertation titles and abstracts (when available).

Disclosure Policy

All authors must provide disclosure statements identifying potential conflicts of interest. If authors have nothing to disclose, they are obligated to submit a statement explicitly stating this. Disclosure statements should also include whether IRB approval was obtained for the project, and if not, state the reason(s). For published papers, a brief summary of potential conflicts of interest should appear in the acknowledgement footnote. The entire disclosure statement is posted with the paper on the journal's website. View the full Disclosure Policy.

Data Legality Policy

All data used in papers published in journals of the American Economic Association should be legally acquired. The editor may reject the paper if some or all of the data were not legally obtained. View the full Data Legality Policy (effective July 2023).

Data and Code Availability Policy

It is the policy of the American Economic Association to publish papers only if the data and code used in the analysis are clearly and precisely documented and access to the data and code is nonexclusive to the authors.

Authors of accepted papers that contain empirical work, simulations, or experimental work must provide, prior to acceptance, information about the data, programs, and other details of the computations sufficient to permit replication, as well as information about access to data and programs. View the full Data and Code Availability Policy.

RCT Registration Policy

It is the policy of the AEA journals that all work involving field experiments must be registered with the AEA RCT Registry prior to submission for publication.