For ERSA the 2007/2008 year was one of substantial growth. Not only have the traditional areas of activity of ERSA grown substantially in terms of both scope and depth, but a range of new initiatives have added to the intellectual span of ERSA. Perhaps most importantly the ERSA Working and Paper Series have seen significant improvement during the course of 2007. The number of submissions received by ERSA under the two papers series has increased substantially, with a growing range of academic institutions in South Africa submitting papers for review.
The result of this increase has been a growth in the intensity and frequency with which the reviewing of papers has had to be conducted. Hence the editorial panel of ERSA has now been expanded to four (the Director and three Deputy Directors of ERSA), who conduct weekly teleconferences to discuss, monitor and process submissions. In addition, the editorial panel of ERSA has been able to draw on the refereeing expertise of a wide range of experts both nationally, and internationally. As a result, I believe that the quality of feedback to authors has improved substantially. While the impact of this improvement remains to be seen over a longer run, the editorial panel hopes that the quality of journals in which the work of South African economists appears will improve also – with top level journals being the main target for ERSA Working and Policy papers.
Toward the end of realising top-end publications, the ERSA incentives around the Working Paper Series explicitly incentivise publication in high end journals. Details of the mechanism can be found in the section of this report which deals with the Working Papers, while an appendix provides more comprehensive information about the individual papers that have appeared in the ERSA series to date.
While ERSA is still monitoring the publication rate of its paper series, one indication that this incentive is having the desired effect is that of the 68 Working Papers and 11 Policy Papers published by ERSA to date, 15 have already been published or accepted by international journals, 9 by South African journals, and 2 have appeared as book chapters. There is thus not only a high publication success rate of 33% from the ERSA paper series, but of the published papers international publications 63% are appearing in international journals, including in the top 30 journals in economics. In addition, of the remaining papers, the overwhelming preponderance is under review primarily in international, but also local journals.
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