Critical Finance Review
Not just replicability, but actual replication!
Every serious empirical paper deserves an independent skeptical reproduction, replication, and analysis. What makes its results actually work?
The CFR publishes leading academic research in all areas of financial economics. It is a high-prestige peer-reviewed academic journal.
The CFR publishes only 10-15 papers per year. The quality of its publications is comparable to that of the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, and Review of Financial Studies. The CFR has the highest per-paper inclusion rate in PhD courses in finance for paper published after 2012, It strives to be more critical, more provocative, more eclectic, and more unusual than peer journals.
At the CFR, we believe the hallmark of a science is not replicability but actual critical replication. Although the CFR's special niche is critiques, it also publishes many non-critique papers. We want to encourage critical discussions of already published research. We do not want conversation and critique to end with publication.
The CFR wants to take more chances.
- The CFR tilts towards empirical work.
- The CFR is much more friendly towards critiques (and reponses thereto).
- submissions that point out that previous papers and/or literatures are sensitive to specification;
- submissions that are considered correct but obvious by half of the profession and obviously incorrect by the other half;
- submissions that document facts that referees insinuate as "everyone already knows that X was wrong" but which have never been articulated in print.
- The CFR is more friendly towards submissions that will upset many readers in the profession. This is a plus, not a minus.
- The CFR takes more chances; inevitably, some choices will end up being wrong.
- The CFR encourages quick "pre-submission" inquiries. We can provide editorial feedback whether we think a manuscript is a good or a bad fit.
The CFR insists that authors make their programs and/or data available to (data-licensed) researchers upon request.
The hand-collected per-paper citation rankings of the CFR are near the top-3 now. However, citation rankings are not the correct metric for the CFR. About half of the papers in the CFR critique other work. Some of the CFR's publication are influential not because they grow literatures, but because they reduce them. This means their impact is not well measured by cites. (If anything, their impact should be measured by their impact in reducing cites, including to themselves.)
A better metric for the CFR influence in the profession are the number of papers assigned on PhD class reading lists. For papers published in the last 5 years, casual observation suggests that the CFR is at least as good as the top-3 journals per paper already.
Elsevier's scientific citation site SCOPUS has accepted the CFR into its set of journals. Thomson's Web of Science has now created an "Emerging Sciences Citation Index," which makes citation tracking easy, too. (The CFR is also covered in Cabell's International, EconLit/JEL, Electronic Journals Library, Google Scholar, INSPEC,and RePEc/IDEAS.)
The recursive REPEC rankings now have us as the fourth-best finance journal within the last 10 years (and the CFR has only existed for 8 of these 10 years):
|Financial Economics Journal|| Impact |
|Journal of Finance||3.120|
|Review of Financial Studies||2.355||0.765|
|Journal of Financial Economics||1.912||0.443|
|Critical Finance Review||1.588||0.324|
|Journal of Financial Intermediation||1.304||0.284|
|Review of Finance||0.791||0.513|
|Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis||0.515||0.276|
|Review of Asset Pricing Studies||0.434||0.081|
However, all of the journals on this list publish very good (and some not so very good) research. As for visibility, it used to be that papers in top journals were easier to locate—this is no longer true. "Certification" is not systematic either—disposition depends primarily on the draw of the referee and editors impose only modest uniformity across papers.
Help our profession with more heterogeneity in its pipeline—make an effort to publish in and cite more frequently from different journals. If it was not a conflict of interest, I would want to publish all of my own work in the CFR.
I am not the author of these papers, so I cannot take credit for them. However, I think as a collection, the papers in the CFR, published and forthcoming, have been more interesting than an equal random number of papers in the other top journals. (Other journals publish more papers, so you cannot compare the x worst or best papers.)
It has come to my attention that there has been some confusion about the nature of the journal. The CFR is peer-reviewed, just like most other good academic journals. It is not an editorial journal (like the JEP). The CFR is a peer-reviewed and refereed journal—in the same sense that Nature and Science are. The referees make objective assessments and decisions about whether papers are correct or incorrect. They also help to improve papers. The editor tries to improve consistency in the assessments across different referee draws. Compared to other top finance journals, the subjective editorial decision of whether a submission is interesting has also shifted relatively more from referee to editor. But all finance journals rely on assessments by both referees and editors. The difference among journals is one of modest degrees.
It makes no sense to publish rejection rates, because the CFR encourages authors to send a one-page description of the paper for an editorial opinion before submission. Most papers are then simply not submitted, and the papers that are have much higher probability of acceptance.
A good idea for a new journal: Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics (SURE).
Odds and Ends
- Ars Technica, 2021, Keeping science reproducible in a world of custom code and data.
- Data Colada, 2021, Ariely Study Replicability. In Ariely's defense, he did open up the data set, which I believe he was not required to. This suggests it was not fraud. Most importantly, though, without the data being public, this could never have shown to be wrong by third parties. My bigger point is that science is in trouble (a) whenever papers are not replicated and (b) critique authors are afraid to speak out.)