TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN Lecture 13 Research Methods in Economics Karol Jan Borowiecki
Schedule for this Morning • Getting Started • Writing • Publishing and Career Development • Electronic Resources • Citation and Referencing • Concluding Remarks
Part I Getting Started
Getting Started There are no golden rules for how to do research but there are some common mistakes. • Don’t spend too much time reading other people’s research, waiting for inspiration to strike you. • Reading research should be a regular part of any economist’s routine. But it is not a substitute for doing your own • Don’t set the bar too high. • But don’t set the bar too low! • Be wary of picking a topic that is of interest to a small number of people (e.g. you and your adviser)
Empirical Work – Thinking About Ideas “Scientific” Model • Formulate Hypothesis • Get Data • Test Hypothesis • Report Results
Four good ways to start an empirical paper 1) Get some data and start playing with it. • Sometimes, this throws up an interesting pattern • Write a paper exploring/explaining this pattern 2) Read a paper that you found interesting. • Get their dataset and replicate their results • Maybe try it out on a new dataset • A good way to learn the area, but may also lead you to follow-up questions. For example, would you have done the analysis differently, or could it be applied to another example?
Four good ways to start an empirical paper 3) Read about something interesting in the popular press or blogs? • Analyse the statements with some data. Be critical to everything you read. • Study something that interests you. • Thinking outside the box (Freakonomics)
Part II Writing
Keep it Short “I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write you a short one.” Blaise Pascal
Keep it Short “I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write you a short one.” Blaise Pascal • People have limited time and most of us are impatient. • Try to keep papers to no more than 20 pages of text. • If you have a lot more material, maybe it should be two papers (are there two ideas in the paper?). • Use Appendixes for less important parts. • Try limit introductions to 2 or 3 pages.
Keep it Short • Don’t litter your paper with lots of footnotes. • Don’t be repetitive. • Body of the paper: Get to the central result as fast as possible. • The theory must be the minimum required for the reader to understand the empirical results.
Writing Skills • More important than you think!Your ideas and results will not sell themselves. • Many economists think of themselves as primarily experts in technical methods: Econometrics, economic theory, data expertise. • This “white coat” mentality—that we are mainly scientists who then do a write-up of our results—is deeply wrong. • Writing is an essential part of the research process, not a last-minute thing to be rushed. • Advice: Imitate skillful writers, imitate their words and phrases, and modify them to suit your purpose.
Selling Your Paper • Most people are busy. • There are lots of other papers they could read. • There’s lots of bad research out there. So, there’s good reason for people to approach your work with a sceptical attitude. • Your paper needs to make a quick case for itself. How? • TITLE, ABSTRACT, INTRODUCTION
Preparing, Writing, Reviewing, Referencing and Publishing of Working Papers in the Field of Economics
How to be a Successful Economist?Research Methods Karol Jan Borowiecki Trinity College Dublin
The Abstract • Put the punch line right up front. Your research is not a “joke” or a “novel”. Readers want quick information! • Your abstract will be read by ten or twenty times as many people as will any other words in the article. • Don’t display your copious bibliographic knowledge in the abstract. Usually the length is limited to 100 words.
The Abstract “We study how drinking affects car crashes.” or “We present a methodology for measuring the risks posed by drinking drivers that relies solely on readily available data on fatal crashes.”
The Abstract “Drinking alcohol increases the risk of car accidents.” or “Drivers with alcohol in their blood are seven times more likely to cause a fatal crash; legally drunk drivers pose a risk 13 times greater than sober drivers.”
The Introduction • How to do it? Quickly explain two things: 1) Why is the topic of your paper interesting? 2) What did YOU do? What is YOUR contribution? A new question? An existing question but new methodology? Existing question, existing methodology, new data (e.g. no previous Irish application)? • Because of its importance, spend a high fraction of your time on the introduction. • Start writing the introduction as soon as you have some results and then keep adjusting it as the paper evolves.
The Introduction • Class Exercise: Read Introduction and label each paragraph in: Miguel E., S. Satyanath, E. Sergenti. (2004). Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variable Approach. Journal of Political Economy, 112(4), 725-753.
Literature Review • You need to explain the relationship to other work. This will probably require discussion of previous studies in this area. • But the purpose is to set up your contribution, and distinguish it from previous work. • Do not do a boring “literature review” mindlessly listing various weakly related studies (set your paper off against the 2 or 3 closest current papers). • Sometimes, this can be done in the introduction. • Cite strategic.
Describing Your Empirical Results • Start with the main result. People don’t care about the 100 variations on the base regression. • People tend to skim papers, so charts and tables should essentially speak for themselves. • Don’t put too many numbers in tables, and don’t have too many tables or charts. • Space out your paper. Short paragraphs, regular section. Appendices are a great tool! • Don’t over-do technique: Are there simple ways to summarise or explain the results?
Other Practical Tips • Use footnotes only for things that the typical reader can skip but a few readers might want to look at: • Long list of references • Simple bits of algebra • Other documentation • Tables should have a self-contained caption. • Use the correct number of significant digits, not whatever the statistical program displays (4.56783 with a standard error of 0.6789 should be 4.6 with standard error 0.7). • Good figures communicate patterns in the data much better than big tables. • When you use Greek letters give them the name too and repeat the name: “Price elasticity equals -0.5”, not just “ equals -0.5”.
Conclusions • Conclusions should be short. • If you did good job of explaining your contribution in the introduction and then documenting those claims in the body of the paper, then saying it all over again is pointless. • Do not restate all of your findings. • You can include a short paragraph or two acknowledging limitations, suggesting implications for future research.
Presentation - Be Professional • A well-written good-looking paper helps convince serious readers that you too are serious, and that your paper is worth the time. • Read, re-read, edit, and re-edit: This can correct most of the common errors of style, grammar, and spelling that occur in the writing process. • Read your stuff aloud. Does it sound right? Are you writing proper sentences? Are you over-using jargon or certain particular phrases? • Get your references right.
Part III Publishing and Career Development
The Publication Process • Don’t hide your work away “perfecting” it. Get it out, get feedback, get rejected ..... start learning the process. • Develop a thick skin if you want to get published. The process is unfair and biased towards experienced and well-connected people. • Referees and editors are rarely as careful as you would like. Don’t bother raging against “stupid” referees or writing back to editors. • Do background research: Who edits the journal? Have they published similar before? • Editors care about impact factors. Be strategic in citations. • Journal success has a large random element. Best strategy: Write a lot of papers.
Success and Failure • You get a revise-and-resubmit? Get excited. • Acceptance rates on these are higher than you think. But only if you know how to deal with them. • Be meticulous in responding to editors and referees. Provide detailed point-by-point responses. • You get rejection letters? • It happens to everyone. The chance that a typical paper of average quality will get a favorable recommendation from both referees is about 11%. • Don’t worry too much about the criticisms. • Only make suggested changes that strike you as improving the paper. • Then send it out again quickly.
Developing Your Research Career • Keep developing your thesis material but don’t fall in love with it! What else can you work on? Your next research project will probably be better. • Specialisation: Expertise in one sub-field is required. But once this is achieved, there are great benefits to becoming an expert in another. Some sub-fields go together (macro and time series.) • Keep multiple projects going at the same time and work with co-authors. One publication in a top journal will do more for you than many publications in lower-tier ones. • So be ambitious when thinking about what to work on, how to market your work, and where you’re sending it.
Part IV Electronic Resources
Access to Electronic Resources • It’s Research not Google Search. • Know and use available resources. • Trinity College Library website is a good starting point. Off-campus access also available.
Online Databases with Journal Articles • JSTOR • EconLit • Econ Papers (both working papers and journal articles) • SpringerLink • Oxford University Press • Many other available • TCD Library has also access to popular press archives (Time Magazine, The Economist etc.) • Easy Access through Trinity College Library.
Trinity College Library: Electronic Databases • Datastream Advance - Historical financial database Thomson Datastream is an historical financial numerical database, covering an breadth of financial instruments, equity and fixed-income securities and indicators for over 175 countries and 60 markets worldwide. • World Development Indicators Online (WDI) Provides direct access to more than 700 development indicators, with time series for 208 countries and 18 country groups from 1960 to 2006, where data are available. • International Financial Statistics Approximately 32,000 time series covering more than 200 countries starting in 1948. Includes exchange rates, fund accounts and the main global and country economic indicators.
Data Sets We Have Used in Lab Classes • EUROSTAT http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu • CSO Office Ireland www.cso.ie • Central Bank www.centralbank.ie • ISEQ index data www.ise.ie • Bureau of Labor Statistics www.bls.gov/bls/inflation.htm
Other Electronic Statistical Databases Presentations and Links from Data Session • Karl Whelan's presentation on macro data. • Greg Connor's presentation on finance datasets. • Pedro Vicente's presentation on development and experimental data. • James McBride's presentation on the Irish Social Science Data Archive • Orla Doyle and Colm Harmon's presentation on UK microdata and cohort data. • Paul Devereux's presentation on US microdata and European register data
Part V Citation and Referencing
Academic Style Guides • Good referencing enables readers to find any publication referred to in your document quickly and easily – which gives you credibility. • If you don't do it, your work is immediately downgraded in value. • If you do it badly, you lose respect (and easy marks). • During research keep record of all the sources you use (and know where to find them if needed).
Referring to an Author's Viewpoint in Text • If the author's surname fits naturally into the text, the year follows in round brackets. Gaskell (1992) notes that girls’ skills are not visible to others. • If not, insert the name and year in round brackets immediately after the viewpoint. Girls’ skills are not visible to others (Gaskell, 1992) • Direct (Exact) Citation: you will often be referring to a specific point in the text. In that case you must add the page(s). Thompson (2005, pp.37-38) states that “…” or Thompson (2005, p.37) states that “…”
More than One Author Cited in Text • If the authors’ surnames fit naturally into the text, the year follows in round brackets. Furlong (1985) and McManus (1989) note thatgirls are considered to create fewer problems than boys. • If not, insert the names and years in round brackets Girls are considered to create fewer problems than boys (Furlong, 1985; McManus, 1989).
More Authors for the Same Work • When there are two authors for a work they should both be noted in the text: White and Brown (1964) in their recent research paper found … Or indirectly, using an ampersand (and) or (&) : Earlier research (White & Brown, 1966) demonstrated that the presence of certain chemicals would lead to … • When there are three or more authors, give the first surname followed by et al. (in italics) meaning ‘and others’: Green et al. (1995) found that the majority … Or indirectly (Green et al., 1995)
Compiling the Reference List - Books • Author, Initials/First name., Year. Title of book. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher. Baron, David P., 2008. Business and the organisation. 6th ed. Chester (CT): Pearson. or Arya, C. (2003). Design of structural elements. 2nd ed., London: Spon Press. • Books with two, three or four authors Barker, R., Kirk, J., & Munday, R.J., 1988. Narrative analysis. 3rd ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. or Silvertown, J. & Charlesworth, D. (2001). Introduction to plant population biology. 4th ed., Oxford: Blackwell Science.
Compiling the Reference List - Books • Books with more than four authors Grace, B. et al., 1988. A history of the world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. • Books which are edited Keene, E. ed., 1988. Natural language. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. • Chapters of edited books Whittaker, K.A., 1990. Dictionaries. in Lea, P.W. and Day, A. (eds.) Printed reference material. London: Library Association Publishing, pp.11-23.
Compiling the Reference List - Journal Articles • Author, Initials., Year. Title of article. Full Title of Journal, Volume number (Issue/Part number), Page numbers. Boughton, J.M., 2002. The Bretton Woods proposal: an in depth look. Political Science Quarterly, 42 (6), pp.564-78. or Moore, T. (1966). The demand for broadway theatre tickets. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 48 (1), 79–87. • Articles with two, three or four authors Bowlin, W.F., Renner, C.J., and Rives, J.M., 2003. A DEA study of gender equity in executive compensation. Journal of the Operation Research Society, 54 (7), pp.751-7.or Stock, J., & Watson, M. (2008). Heteroskedasticity-Robust standard errors for fixed-effects panel-data regression. Econometrica, 76, 155–174.
More Referencing Rules – Useful links • http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/harvard.htm • http://www2.wlv.ac.uk/lib/Tipsheets/Harvard2008.doc • AER (American Economic Review) Style Guide http://www.aeaweb.org/AER/styleguide.html • Important rule: be consistent in your work!
Part VI Concluding Remarks
Plenty of Good Advice Available 1) Tips for Preparing and Publishing Research Papers, by Karl Whelan, www.karlwhelan.com 2) Kwan Choi (How to Publish in Top Journals): Hard-bitten, cynical, very, very useful. From a man who edits a journal, so knows the deal. www.roie.org/how.htm 3) John Cochrane (Writing Tips for PhD Students): A master technician and one of the smartest persons in the profession gives his (admittedly idiosyncratic) tips on how to write. Ignore at your peril. http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/john.cochrane/research/Papers 4) Dan Hamermesh (Texas) has an advice page with tips on writing and other matters. http://webspace.utexas.edu/hamermes/www/AdviceforEconomists.html
Key Points • Good questions are more than good answers • Good questions are more than good data • There is always more data • Begin with one question • Pick research question that interest you • Survey literature after you start research • Spend enough time on writing • Keep research portfolio broad • Avoid any distractions • Diversify your daily tasks • Do not listen to more experienced researchers
Thank you! Karol Jan BorowieckiDepartment of EconomicsRoom 3022, Arts BuildingTrinity College DublinDublin 2Office: 00353-1-8961083 Mobile: 00353-867943281E-Mail: Borowiek@tcd.ie