Message from the President
Beyond its terrible health and human damages, the COVID-19 pandemic had the effect of an electric shock on our research activities, due to the closure of our experimental labs, the interruption of data collection for field experiments already underway, the cancellation of conferences and international trips, and the isolation of the youngest researchers in sometimes precarious conditions.
But like others, our profession has shown extraordinary resilience. Faced with the forced closure of our labs, we looked for alternative solutions and developed protocols for online experiments. A multitude of groups have launched global webinars. The profession has reoriented its research topics, demonstrating how using experimental economics helps understand the effects of pandemics on people's preferences and decisions and how behavioral mechanism design can assist policy makers.
ESA has actively contributed to this resilience, supporting our community to move forward in the face of adversity. Two years in a row, we organized Global Online Around-the-Clock Meetings, more than 48 hours of non-stop scientific exchanges around the world. Both editions met a great success. We are now looking forward to our first in-person (North-American) ESA meeting in two years! To help juniors get their research known, ESA launched a series of job market seminars that raised so much interest that we decided to continue the series this year. Both of our journals have launched symposia on the theme of the COVID-19 pandemic and our editors have been more lenient with authors and reviewers regarding the deadlines for submission or resubmission without penalizing the publication flow.
Despite the context, under the impetus of our previous ESA President, Dan Friedman, and thanks to the preparatory work of ad hoc committees, fundamental changes have been initiated that have already been implemented or will concretize in the very near future. In particular, committees have been set up in charge of monitoring the evolution of publications using field and lab experiments, thinking about outreach, and planning our future events. In order to promote the replication of research results, a new data and code disclosure policy has been defined and a Data Officer has been appointed in July 2021. Ethical guidelines for our community are being finalized. As of October 2021, the archives of the ESA have been transferred to the Library of Duke University for preservation and will be available to researchers and historians.
This dynamic will be pursued during my presidency around four strategic priorities:
Promoting a culture of replication to strengthen the scientific value of our findings
Growing our field and its reputation in academia and beyond
Promoting the training, networking and integration of young experimentalists
Enhancing the inclusiveness, representativeness and safety of our working environment
1. Promoting a culture of replication
The appointment of a Data Officer and the establishment of a data and code disclosure policy in 2021 are a significant step forward in the direction of replicability. Conditional for the final acceptance of their paper for publication in ESA's journals, Experimental Economics and the Journal of the Economic Science Association, authors must now deposit their code and data on recommended public repositories to allow replication.
ESA will promote by all means the teaching of a replication culture and the dissemination of information about the replication of published results. This will be done notably through calls for replication on our social networks, the support to workshops on replication, and the encouragement of ESA meetings organizers to include sessions on replicability in their program. ESA invites authors of replications to add their data and codes alongside the original study on public repositories, creating a kind of Wiki for replications, so that replications of original articles can be easily identified and authors of replications can receive credit for. We also recommend that authors submitting manuscripts to our journals cite the references of replications alongside the original articles.
2. Growing our field and its reputation in academia and beyond
Beyond publications in general interest journals in economics and science and further improvement of our ESA journals, strengthening the reputation of our field in academia requires more frequent contacts and cooperation with other fields of economics. Growing our field does not mean that we develop outside of the other economic fields, quite the opposite. It means that by promoting and improving experimental methods, we can contribute to solve big research questions in cooperation with economists who do not use such methods.
One way to facilitate such research cooperation is by increasing interactions. ESA encourages a more systematic participation of experimentalists to events organized by non-experimental associations. It also encourages the invitation to ESA events of speakers who are not using experimental methods but develop theory, use other empirical methods, or are editors of non-experimental journals. To facilitate matching, ESA will actively encourage and support the organization of joint sessions on various topics in partnership with other economic associations. We will additionally strive for more sessions at ASSA meetings and similar associations choosing topics that should attract the attention of a wider public. We use to receive very high-quality proposals every year that we have to turn down due to limited number of slots. We will strive to alleviate these constraints while maintaining a very high-quality objective.
We will suggest the names of renown ESA researchers in response to calls for nominations for lead editor or associate editor positions issued by general or top-field journals.
The growth of our field also depends on the increase in the impact of our two ESA journals, Experimental Economics and the Journal of the Economic Science Association, thanks to the investment of our editors and editorial boards and the dedication of our reviewers, thanks to the authors, and thanks to the members of the association whom we encourage to consult our journals regularly. The recent renewal of our contract with Springer allows us to increase the number of issues published each year by Experimental Economics, whose number of submissions and Impact Factor have increased significantly. Obtaining an Impact Factor for JESA is a priority. By submitting papers to JESA, you are all working towards this goal.
Increasing our visibility also means strengthening our presence on social networks, in particular to inform about recent publications in our journals, replications of original articles, new experimental results, initiatives of our members.
Outreach must also take place outside academia. The Association will seek to facilitate contacts between experimental economists and media in different countries, encourage the organization of events for the wider public around experimentation, and publicize initiatives and results of work related to the evaluation of public and private policies using experimental methods. Increasing these contacts will facilitate the development of lab, field and social experiments in the field of public policy.
3. Promoting the training, networking and integration of junior experimentalists
Promoting our field also means offering greater opportunity to the younger generation. My goal is to strengthen our mentoring activities, under the leadership of our former President Yan Chen, in order to offer support to young women economists at the beginning of their career. Organizing regular continuing education sessions on experimental methods and Facing-the-Profession sessions at ESA events is also an objective. Senior economists have a key role in this transmission.
ESA encourages the development of experimental and behavioral economics curricula within economics programs. Our presence on social networks allows us to relay information on new training initiatives and programs giving an important or original place for experimental and behavioral economics. Do not hesitate to share this information with us.
To facilitate network building and recruitment, we will maintain in 2021-2022 our series of Job Market seminars because travel and direct exchange opportunities are still limited by the COVID-19 pandemic and it is the younger generations that suffer the most from this condition.
4. Enhancing the inclusiveness, representativeness and safety of our working environment
The ESA is willing to help guarantee an inclusive and safe working environment ensuring a fair treatment of its members and participants to its events, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or any criteria unrelated to scientific matters.
The ESA ad-hoc committee for ethics, now led by our former President Catherine Eckel, has been working since 2020 on the drafting of ESA ethical guidelines. A first draft was presented and discussed with the members of the Association during our 2nd Global meeting. The Executive Committee and the General Assembly of members will be invited to approve a final document in 2022. These guidelines aim to set an explicit norm for all members of our Association regarding professional conduct and to offer support to victims of any work misconducts. These guidelines include a number of initiatives that, once passed, will be binding on all members of the Association. I will also support the creation of an Ethics Officer responsibility in the Association.
My goal is also to continue and strengthen previous efforts to ensure fair representation of different geographic areas and gender balance in ESA decision-making bodies, the editorial teams of the Association's journals, and the initiatives supported by ESA. We will seek to increase diversity, for example, by engaging members at earlier stages of their careers in the Association's activities and bodies, and by making organizers of events supported by ESA aware of the importance of diversity in the selection of guest speakers. It is important that we all keep this goal of diversity in mind when making nominations to ESA activities because there is still much to be done in this area. The association is underrepresented in some countries. We could partner with the economic associations of these countries to organize sessions and create an appetence for experimental methods.
Beyond the pursuit of these ambitions, for some of which new ad hoc committees will be formed, we will continue to improve the services provided by the Association to its members on a daily basis while maintaining a prudent management of its finances, thanks to our Treasurer. With our webmaster and VP Information, we will again improve the ESA website and the flow of information will be made more fluid. It is also important that the membership shares their needs with us so that we can improve our services.
It is a great responsibility to be at the service of a society as dynamic and open as the Economic Science Association. It is a great comfort to be supported by the members of its Executive Committee and its editorial boards. It is a great aspiration to work all together for the progress of experimental economics and the visibility of our field.
Marie Claire Villeval, 21 October 2021