Since its inception in 2005, ERSA has been in operation for 5 years. It was therefore useful that the Steering Committee of ERSA instituted an independent external review of the activities, output and operation of the ERSA mechanism. Professor David Hendry, Matthew Stern and Dr. Stephen Yeo constituted the review panel, whose report was presented to a joint sitting of the Steering Committee and Academic Board of ERSA in November 2009. The report was wide ranging and provided a detailed examination of the activities of ERSA to date. It was satisfying that the review provided a positive assessment of the contribution of the ERSA Working Paper Series, Workshops and other mechanisms to the disciple of economics in our region. However what proved particularly useful for the executive of ERSA were a range of suggestions on how the operation, efficiency and impact of ERSA could be improved. I am particularly grateful to both the members of the review team, as well as all those who contributed their time to provide feedback to the reviewers for helping ERSA to improve.
As planned, 2009-2010 saw the foundation of two new Research Groups within the ERSA workshop framework. A group in Economic History, and a second in Public Economics became active during the course of the year, and held their first meetings. Gratifying was the strong response and attendance by members of both the policy and the academic research community for both groups. For the Working and Policy Paper series, submissions have continued the pattern of 2008-2009, taking the form of a steady flow. The editorial team has continued in its efforts to improve the turnaround time for submitted manuscripts. While the processing time has improved, there remains room for improvement in this regard. During 2009-2010 the number of published papers has risen from 117 Working Papers, and 14 Policy Papers, to 177 Working Papers, and 16 Policy Papers. Papers continue to reflect a wide coverage of economics, with publications appearing in 17 of the 20 feasible specialization categories that the Journal of Economic Literature recognizes.
Publications in peer reviewed journals arising from the ERSA paper series also continue to increase. During 2009-2010 the number of published papers rose from 50 to 73, of which 39 appeared in international journals, and 34 in South African journals. The evidence continues to be consistent with the stated objective of ERSA to increase the publications profile of South African economists, and in particular to raise the international profile of Southern African based publications in economics. It was pleasing to observe the panel of independent international assessors commenting on the fact that the ERSA series has become the premier Working Paper series in economics in the region.
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