Academic research development as a junior scholar
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Academic Research Development as a Junior Scholar. Dr. Jing Ai Shidler College of Business The University of Hawaii at Manoa Workshop at China Center for Insurance and Risk Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China July 24, 2011. Agenda. Getting started Research process

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Academic research development as a junior scholar

Academic Research Development as a Junior Scholar

Dr. Jing Ai

Shidler College of Business

The University of Hawaii at Manoa

Workshop at China Center for Insurance and Risk Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

July 24, 2011


Agenda

Agenda

  • Getting started

  • Research process

  • Writing process

  • Review process

  • Seminar presentations

  • My research (optional)

  • Q & A

2/22


Where to start

Where to Start?

  • The starting point – getting research ideas

    • Mentored

      • (PhD) classes

        • e.g., term papers

      • Advisor

      • Other senior/more experienced co-authors

    • Non-mentored

      • Self-established streams of research

        • E.g., further development of dissertation research


Where to start1

Where to Start?

  • Non-mentored (Cont’d)

    • New co-authors

      • Similar interests, complementary skill sets

    • Other sources

      • Academic literature

      • Academic conferences

      • Major trade publications, e.g., Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week

      • Specialized industry publications

      • Chats with companies/professionals


Research process

Research Process

  • Topics/Ideas

    • What is a good research idea?

      • Major contribution

      • Implementable/doable

      • Popular/”hot” topic?

      • Public policy/applied research?

    • One central and novel contribution

      • The idea should be concrete

      • Write it out for self-check

      • Distill it bravely


Research process1

Research Process

  • Literature review

    • Up to date with the “zone” of literature

    • “Study” the most relevant papers (classics and most recent ones)

    • Evaluate your idea within the literature

      • Does it add to the current literature?

        • Is it significantly interesting?

        • Is it new?

    • Different ways to build on the literature


Research process2

Research Process

  • Empirical analysis

    • Choose a methodology/approach that fits; simple is better

    • Follow the good, relevant papers

    • Be extremely careful

      • E.g., Identification problem/causal effect

        • Understand the left hand variable and right hand variables

        • Carefully choose control variables

        • Carefully construct instruments

    • Databases vs. hand-collected data

    • Summary statistics


Research process3

Research Process

  • Empirical analysis (cont’d)

    • Make sense of the results

      • Be sure to explain your results, not just present estimates and p values

      • Your “story” should be consistent with the results

    • Pay attention to economic significance, not just statistical significance

    • How many robustness checks?

  • Theoretical/analytical analysis


Writing process

Writing Process

  • General writing tips

    • “We are primarily writers.” Most good economists put at least 50% of the time into writing (Cochrane 2005).

    • Keep it short

      • Simple is better

      • Minimize repetition

    • Be concrete and direct

      • Write about what you find/do, not the search process

      • Get to the point as fast as possible

    • Strive for precision


Writing process1

Writing Process

  • General writing tips (cont’d)

    • Keep track of what readers know and don’t know

    • Take responsibility of what you write

    • Use an English editor

      • Note that she is not a substitute for you

  • Other writing tips

    • Use active tense whenever possible

    • Present tense is better and be consistent

    • Limit the use of adjectives

    • “this,” “that,” and other tricks


Writing process2

Writing Process

  • Abstract

    • 100-200 words

    • Highlight the one central and novel contribution

    • Briefly summarize what you do/find

    • No “side” points

      • No other literature

      • No long motivations

      • No painful details


Writing process3

Writing Process

  • Introduction

    • Limit to three pages

    • Start with and emphasize what you do, i.e., the major contribution

      • Explain/describe your contribution so people can understand

    • Summarize your results

    • Discuss later long motivations, other literature, policy implications

      • Easier to understand when readers know what you do


Writing process4

Writing Process

  • Literature review

    • Focus on a few most relevant papers

      • Put your paper into context

      • Give credit to people

    • It is not a survey of literature

      • It is definitely not a dump of all relevant papers

    • Be generous in citations

    • Strategic citations

    • Consider a separate “block” for literature review


Writing process5

Writing Process

  • Analyses and results

    • Get to the main results fast

    • Describe data efficiently

    • Work out theoretical models only when necessary

    • Document the work

    • Tables and Figures

      • Use self-contained captions for tables

      • Explain the tabulated findings in the text

      • Prioritize main results over supplementary results and robustness checks


Writing process6

Writing Process

  • Conclusion

    • Try not to restate all findings

    • It is OK to acknowledge limitations

    • May include further implications, e.g., for public policymaking

    • May include brief description of future research avenues


Writing process7

Writing Process

  • Footnotes

    • Designed for the more thorough readers

    • Not for parenthetical comments

  • Appendices

    • For the “extras”

      • Detailed data construction

      • Lengthy proofs

      • Robustness checks

      • Survey/interview questions


Review process

Review Process

  • Pre-submission checks

    • Basics: spelling, grammar, format, journal requirements, page numbers, references, etc.

    • Informal reviews/comments

  • The ultimate decisions

    • The best time to submit a paper?

    • Which journal to submit to?

      • Special issues?

  • Getting the review reports

    • Be patient

    • Take a deep breath


Review process1

Review Process

  • Getting the review reports (cont’d)

    • Reviewers are always right?

    • The importance of response letters

      • A lot of reviewers read response letters first

      • Address the comments point by point

      • It is easier to just do what the reviewers asked for

      • Acknowledge the reviewers’(comments) sufficiently

      • Timely resubmission

      • “Pre-emptive” strikes?

    • Be sure to revise as you say in the response letters

  • The spirit of “RE-search”


Seminar presentations

Seminar Presentations

  • Understand your paper before presenting it

  • Get to the point as fast as possible

  • Slides

    • Try to limit the number to the bare minimum

    • Put on slides two types of things

      • Most important points

      • Those that have to be seen (tables, equations, symbols)

    • Organize them for you to follow easily

    • Prepare hidden slides just in case


Seminar presentations1

Seminar Presentations

  • Presentation

    • Motivate only when necessary

    • First things first, i.e., get to the main contribution as early as possible

      • Help audience understand the part to follow

      • Control/limit unnecessary questions

    • Do not try to cover everything

    • Listen to the questions to the end

      • Wait before respond

      • Give thoughtful and honest answers

    • Speak loudly, slowly, and clearly

    • Rehearse if necessary


References

References

  • “Writing Tips for Ph.D. Students,” John H. Cochrane, 2005. Available online (as of July 23, 2011).

  • “How to Write a Paper,” presentation slides, Professor Gene Lai, 2010.


Academic research development as a junior scholar

Thanks!

Questions/Comments?

[email protected]


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