How editors should deal with referees – an experiment

As someone who serves on four ed boards, I found this presentation very interesting:

How can We Increase Pro-Social Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics

Referees randomized to one of four groups in invitation emails:
1. 6 week – 6 week deadline [control group]
2. Social – 6 week deadline + referee turnaround time posted
on journal’s website at end of year
3. 4 week – 4 week deadline
4. Cash – 4 week deadline + $100 for meeting deadline

Here are their conclusions:

1.Short deadlines are extremely effective at increasing speed Little adverse effect on participation rates, quality of report, or other journals
2.Cash incentives can generate significant improvements with salient reminders shortly before deadline Paying cash without highlighting incentive amounts to an infra-marginal transfer
3. Even light social incentive implemented here has significant benefits Stronger social treatments such as personalized letter from editor likely to have powerful effects on behavior