New Year Gifts

by John Q on January 2, 2024

It’s still New Year’s Day in places, but the world of academia seems to be back to work, and sending me a variety of gifts, some more welcome than others. Coincidentally or otherwise, it’s also the day I’ve moved to semi-retirement, a half-pay position involving only research and public engagement.

Most welcome surprise: an email telling me I’ve been elected as a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory. In the way academia works, some friendly colleagues must have proposed this, but I had no idea at all

Most culturally clueless: A request for a referee report, due in three weeks. This is January in Australia – only the most vital jobs get done

Most interesting: An invitation to join the editorial board of Econometrics, an MDPI journal in which I have published an article of which I am quite proud, though of course it has received almost no attention. MDPI is a for-profit open access publisher, which regularly deals with accusations of predatory behaviour. A search reveals that the existing editors have resigned, something which is happening a bit these days.

I’m in n>2 minds about this. I think that journal rejection rates in economics are absurdly high, in a way that damages intellectual progress. Eric has expressed the same view regarding philosophy, which is closer to economics in cultural terms than any other discipline (Macarena’s post is highly applicable to econ).

On the other hand, I’m always dubious about the motives of for-profit firms (that includes the “reputable” firms like Elsevier and Wiley).

And on hand #3, I’ve just semi-retired, and I don’t feel like taking on a fight in which I have no dog.

So, I’ll probably stick with the plan of spending more time at the beach, working on my triathlon times, and trying not to get too depressed about the state of the world, at least those bits I can do nothing too change.



otto 01.02.24 at 9:48 am

Happy New Year!

You mention that you are now on “a half-pay position involving only research and public engagement” – interesting! I think the university I know best only allows a “pro-rata” retirement from teaching, i.e. if you want a half-pay position you need to do half the teaching hours, you cant just “retire from teaching” but carrying on doing the rest of the job.


Doug K 01.03.24 at 12:37 am

congratulations on the semi-retirement !

my company just got bought by IBM, I am waiting to see if I get an involuntary early retirement..


JBL 01.03.24 at 1:43 am

With respect to the journal resignation, is there a public statement by the former editorial board about why they resigned? Based on some similar incidents in my field, I think coming on as a new editor following such an event would be widely regarded as an act of repudiation of the grounds for the resignation — so it would be good to know what you would be repudiating by signing up.


Alan White 01.03.24 at 6:18 am

Congratulations on your semi-retirement! I loved university teaching–think I was good at it too (awards bullshit you know)–and wondered if I’d miss it. Quite the contrary–and especially in the current ultra-politicized atmosphere–my stress levels are way, way down. I even managed to publish my first book without all the distractions. Revel in it, and maybe you’ll see that beyond academia lies real peace (well, as much peace as one can attain in this not-yet-post-Trump world).


Ryan 01.04.24 at 1:16 am

Congrats! Working on (reducing?) your triathlon times is a convenient way to reduce worries about the world, since your personal suffering will occupy more mental space ????. I’m curious how you plan to split your efforts between buying speed (e.g., aero wheels) and building speed (i.e., fitness)?
Good luck and thanks for the inspiration that I might rediscover triathlon in my future semi retirement phase!


Roxana 01.04.24 at 6:45 am

Happy New Year! I see you’ve posted this on your Substack too — are you considering moving on from the platform this year given it’s current stance on Nazi content? Or do you suspect it will resolve itself in the short-to-medium term?


John Q 01.06.24 at 6:49 am

@Ryan I’ve spent quite a bit on shoes and bikes, to the point where someone as slow as me can’t justify the incremental benefits of spending a lot to shave off a few seconds. So, it’s fitness and technique now.

@Roxana I’ve moved my small personal newsletter to Buttondown in preparation for a more comprehensive shift. But I’m still hoping for an adequate resolution, and waiting to see if there is a co-ordinated move I should join.

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