What I do all day

  • Step 1: Go to Google Scholar and type in a keyword query or a citation (e.g. “Krueger and Lindahl 2001”)
  • whatido3.JPG

  • Step 2: Browse results and click on “all x versions >>” to get a free version of the paper (usually the ones hosted at universities)
  • Step 3: Skim paper; this usually means reading the introduction and conclusion and quickly looking at the model section (read: math)… there’s always a model section
  • Step 4: Click the “cited by y” link and go to step 2 for those results
  • Step 5: Identify interesting citations in the paper and go to step 1

Also, I read books.

7 thoughts on “What I do all day”

  1. Me too, time permitting and so on, although I use JStor and regular Google.

    The problem is that I found that this way I learn a lot less than I think I am. Maybe you can do it because you’ve been through that first couple of PhD years, who knows…

    Also, discussing papers and results and stuff is invaluable, and there’s very little of that in the world. Or maybe it’s just me.

  2. I agree that you don’t learn much economics with this method. I learn stylized facts (see Thursday’s post) but mostly I learn how to write papers to get published. I find my self in this google scholar loop when I’m about ready to start writing more intensely.

  3. Do you mean you do this all day everyday you’re working? What’s your objective? I couldn’t imagine working this way for any prolonged period of time–I think I might just get awestruck and wonder how I could ever contribute.

  4. This post was a response to a question on an earlier post about how to get access to papers… the title was an attempt at humor.

    Jason, you sound like you think you have the academics work flow all figured out… Let’s hear it.

  5. Ahh. I see.

    Anyways, I don’t know about having it “all figured out” but I do have a good idea of what works for me. I always try to be producing something. Sometimes it requires reading but, more often than not, I try to be banging my head on some part of some project I’m working on. Even if it doesn’t seem that good at first, it can turn into something good or lead to something else that might be good. Of course, this requires having something to work on and coming up with ideas can be difficult.

    So, how best to come up with viable ideas? One good strategy is to read your professor’s papers and try to come up with related projects. You will then immediately have a good person to pitch the ideas to. The worst case scenario is that they tell you to go back to the drawing board. Alternatively, they might tell you to run with it, push you in a slightly different direction, or something else (like giving you a new research idea–it happens more often than most people would think.)

    Pitch lots of ideas to your (potential) advisor. I’ve probably pitched a dozen or so to various profs (although I usually give the ideas a test run on a fellow student first.) They’re in a better position to judge what is viable/new/important/etc. However, it should be noted that sometimes it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.

    Well, that’s my two cents.

  6. What is the scope of “a project”? A vague idea? A particular hypothesis? A particular regression or data set?

    How many projects do you have going at any one time? How much/long do write before moving on to the next project? Have you ever given up on a project, or do they just become “on-hold” for a long time?

    To what extent do you work on a research program? i.e. how related are your projects; do they each tell a small part of a bigger story? How important do you think this aspect is for the job market?

    (The answer here will probably be sub-discipline specific… I suspect there’s more of a premium in public/labor/freakonomics to flex your technical muscles. But your ideas would form a nice baseline.)

Comments are closed.