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Q&A with Judith Clifton

Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Economic Policy Reform

We sat down with Judith Clifton, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Economic Policy Reform, to better understand the kind of research the Journal publishes

and how the Journal supports authors to make an impact with their research.

Here is what she had to say: 

Can you share your professional background and your relationship with Journal of Economic Policy Reform?

I have long been fascinated by a core question in social science: what is in the public and private spheres of life, including industry and services? Policy decisions are often relevant when deciding that question. My early research focused on privatization – and much of my more recent research is still related to why industry and services are private, or public. My passion for policy reform emerged from this public-private question. Policy can effect significant change on the life of people and is in our hands to implement. For that reason, policy reform is, for me, one of the most attractive areas of the social sciences, since the right policy can do good. When I was invited to step up as Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Economic Policy Reform I thought it was an excellent opportunity to re-launch the journal as a platform to effect change.

For those who may not know, can you give us a bit of background to the Journal?

The journal was founded by Dani Rodrik when the Berlin Wall and Communism started to collapse, at the end of the 1990s. From the beginning, the idea was to analyze how policy mattered. Real policy using the best analytical tools.

How is this journal unique from others in the field?

We focus on interesting policy developments that are occurring in the real world and try to deploy the best analytical tools to work out why that policy was implemented, who it benefits, what are its effects.

What kind of research does Journal of Economic Policy Reform look to publish and how do you ensure quality?

Interesting policy developments using innovative tools. Authors should make an empirical and theoretical contribution to the field of policy analysis. Quality is assured by peer review of dedicated scholars around the world.

With such a broad scope, how are you able to publish all this research?

We can´t. Submission volumes are high. It is extremely difficult to select among all the submissions the very best papers.

Please share why you have selected the respective UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for Journal of Economic Policy Reform?

These UN SDGs relate back to the public-private question that I mentioned earlier. While it’s hard to quantify real-world impact, striving for policy developments within these goals will have a meaningful, lasting effect on the overall health and sustainability of our communities.

  • 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10- Reduced Inequalities

How do you empower authors to make an impact with their research?

It is up to authors to transmit and share their research. I can only encourage this. In the age of the internet and social media, it is imperative authors share research as soon as possible. It makes no sense to publish a paper that no one reads!

Are authors seeing the real-world impact of their research after they have contributed to Journal of Economic Policy Reform?

I know a good number of authors have had real-world impact. Take Mildred Warner, Cornell University. Her early paper on Social Impact Bonds was taken up by government who asked her for advice on the topic. The paper can be found here: Private finance for public goods: social impact bonds 

Where do you see the Journal in 5 years’ time? Is there anything specific you want to achieve?

I hope its real-world and scientific impact increases further, in a virtuous circle. If it makes the world a better place, through impacting policy in practice, that would be an honor.

Finally, how can authors contribute impactful research to Journal of Economic Policy Reform?

By identifying an interesting policy, selecting the best tools to analyze it, carefully compiling data, and asking a good research question.

Judith Clifton


University of Cantabria, Spain