The American Economic Review publishes an unrefereed conference volume, Papers and Proceedings, in May of every year. Of course, the AER also a publishes a refereed journal which rejects more than 95% of submissions. Someone with an AER P&P might be tempted to pass it off as an AER on their CV. There is a possible gain in prestige at the cost of being found out and facing a social sanction. Snyder and Zidar call this the obfuscation theory. Alternatively, perhaps these AER P&Ps have real academic value and those who describe their own such papers as real publications should also cite other such papers more. Different conventions of citation may develop among different subgroups. This is the convention model. Snyder and Zidar find support for the convention model in the data. They mention that AER P&Ps had more citations that AERs in the past and hence older economists tend to see P&Ps as real publications while younger economists do not. This should imply that younger economists should be more careful about distinguishing P&Ps from AERs on their CVs.
I have two questions/comments.
An economist who lists a P&P as a refereed publication faces dissonance. On the one hand, they would like to see themselves as good people, on the other they know they are doing something shady. One way to resolve the dissonance is to cite other researchers P&Ps more. This helps propagate the self-deception that P&Ps are legitimate pieces of refereed research and hence listing them as such is justified.
Second, another possible paper: Do P&Ps have more errors than refereed publications? One job of a referee is to catch errors after all. If so, how many cites come from people pointing out mistakes?
(Hat Tip: MR)