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The move to trim the lengths of articles has had mixed results. Authors forced to fit the limits at one journal rarely made any real cuts — deleting a chart here, changing a margin there.

“People will produce what you ask for,” Mr. Card said. “We can often get papers in that format with relatively minor changes.”

Economic articles traditionally have single authors. In other lab-intensive fields such as biology, an article might have five or more listed authors. As the page lengths of articles have increased, however, economists are collaborating more often and raising author counts, Mr. Card said.

The result: Even though fewer articles get the nod for publication, more economists are getting credit for being published. In a field where academic advancement and tenure decisions may be tipped by a candidate’s publication record, those editorial decisions could have some direct real-world consequences.

“Economics has a different style of research,” Mr. Card said. “But there are more authors on articles, and for the younger people, they think that’s good.”