Dan Hamermesh points us to the new policy at the Economic Journal that will offer 500 pound prizes for the best referee reports. He argues that it will likely not speed up referees or give them more incentives to agree to do reports. I tend to agree on that score. Indeed, Maxim Engers and I had a paper in the American Economic Review (1998) that argued that it was the very fact that potential referees cared about speed that made any sort of reward designed to speed things up, less likely to be worthwhile. Put simply, I feel guilt if I decide not to do something as it causes delay but if I know that there are more rewards about I think it is more likely that the next person they ask will go ahead and so the delay I might cause is reduced. That said, it may mean that the reviews people agree to do will be done a little more diligently.

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