A great twitter thread (@JackVigdor) about issues publishing in a top tier journal. In a nutshell, the space is very limited and the time to acceptance has grown longer. This is especially striking compared with other disciplines such as chemistry. Here is my reply:
I started decades ago, before the internet. I've had my share of slings and arrows. I was told by senior faculty that if you did not know someone on the journal's editorial board, you had no chance of publishing in a top journal. I was also told by a senior faculty that only a small percentage of articles are "worth it" and the rest should be put on large tanker and sunk.
Knowing somone was especially true for game theory, where there are many ways to move forward with the analysis. You needed a superior's mark of approval. No one seemed to care.
I changed directions and became very active administratively. I also devoted myself to improving teaching and curricula. These are low-valued activities. While I've returned to research, I fear that the activity "creation of knowledge" has worsened. There are no blind reviews - seminars are essential, so big names know your paper and that you have considered their comments.
A few years ago, before the pandemic, I watched a video of a seminar with big names at the AEA meetings about the tyranny of the top 5 journals in economics -their comments were not about hurting feelings but losing perspectives and ideas through the endless quest to appear more and more like an article in a top five.
The quest has only grown more serious. I worry for the future with elites reproducing themselves and everyone else feeling unimportant without a voice in the top 5. It creates a hole for the public. What we need is competition for public intellectuals. People who can speak sensibly about policies for the general public. But the general public must be the audience.
I will add another post about some comments directed at me. It may help younger faculty dealing with similar issues.