Below you will find a list of resources that are useful for being a researcher. You might call the below links the hidden curriculum - the things that are not usually taught in a PhD program but that are essential to conducting research. This includes material on improving writing skills, how to organize a project, how to present your work, and lots of other practical issues. Below are some highlights that I think are worth mentioning. You can also look at a small presentation for PhD students that summarizes my thinking a bit.
Doing research This guide by Paul Niehaus contains some very good tips on doing research. A key takeaway for me is that most people "experience a dramatic loss of structure" at some point. Going from being a student with set goals and someone telling you what to do (study for this exam, write that paper) to being a researcher responsible for your own output can be difficult, and this guide contains some very good advice on how to navigate that transition.
Learn how to write a paper and how to edit your own work: As Amitabh Chandra, the Editor of the Review of Economics and Statistics put it: "[...] the single best predictor of getting a paper accepted, would be clear and accessible writing, including an explanation of where the paper breaks down, instead of putting the onus of this discovery on the reader". The guide by John Cochrane offers lots of concrete tips for academic writing, but there are plenty of other resources out there as well.
Sign up for new paper alerts: This is super important for being up to date on your field. Read NBER working paper emails and RePeC emails and you will have a great overview of what’s out there after a while. I strongly encourage you to sign up for them right away.
Find a way to be able to concentrate: Social media and emails are very good at stealing your attention, which is detrimental to your ability to write well. I highly recommend Deep Work by Cal Newport. He also has a blog with good tips for how to study or work productively.
Learn how to automate graphs and tables in your preferred software: If you are using Latex and Stata, the guide by Jörg Weber is very good for table generation and will save you lots of time going forward. For Stata user, use different graph schemes to make your graphs look better. Regardless of what software you use, just don’t use the default scheme.
Talk to young faculty members to see if they have any additional insight to share with you. Don’t be afraid to also ask questions about practical issues, not just about research topics. Younger faculty members or senior PhD students likely have plenty of things to share.
It is not uncommon to realize that you had the same idea as someone else. A few days after creating this website I found Masayuki Kudamatsu’s tips for economists. While there is some overlap in what we cover, his website adds several great resources for navigating PhD life and life in academia in general. Other sites to check out: Ryan B Edwards, Plamen Nikolov, Shanjun Li and for Jennifer Doleac (including an awesome database of published papers in the Economics of Crime. I would strongly encourage you to check out these sites too. You can also check out the AEA’s list of links
If anyone has a resource or a useful link that they think is missing from this list, please send it along (claes.backman at econ.au.dk).
Claudia Sahm - We need to talk MORE … (advice about writing a job market paper)
Florian M. Hollenbach - Academic Writing: Exercises and Guides on Writing (Lots of links to writing resources)
Book resources: get a style guide that you like. Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” is the classic reference. Steven Pinker’s “The Sense of Style” is another example.
Creating (and automating) graph and tables
Daniel Bischof - Stata Figure Schemes (paper that explains the scheme)
Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham Best Figure Page (good inspiration!)
If you use Stata I suggest that you install the lean scheme package (net install gr0002_3, replace) and use this package for your graphs (you can type “set scheme lean2, permanently” in stata to always use it). There are of course other schemes out there that you can use. Google is your friend here.
Tip: If you are presenting at your own university, get a fellow PhD student to take notes for you. This saves lots of time and ensures that you won’t miss any good comment. Also ask your friends for feedback on your presentation.
Being productive & finding new ideas
Steve Pavlina - 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output
For new ideas: See this Twitter-thread started by Ivan Werning. I enjoyed this presentation by Frank Schilbach, and this point by Sally Hudson: great questions may also come from the industry or policy world. In general, the Twitter-thread contains a lot of advice, some of it contradicting other advice. Find the thing that works for you!
Getting an overview of the literature
NBER emails - Super important. Sign up to get all emails every week.
RePEc emails - sign up for the working paper series that interest you
SSRN emails - papers and job/conference announcements. Find the link once you login to SSRN.
INOMICs emails - courses and conferences.
IZA emails - working papers
You can also sign for alerts on new articles in your favorite journals. Paul GP has a Twitter-thread on how to sign up for publication alerts. This is very useful!
This great Twitter thread by Women in Econ/Policy summarizes a lot of tips, guides, help and advice for how to use Twitter to make life better. Since they do that better than I can, I suggest going there right away!
Some other tips:
Coding & Creating a website
Dealing with stress and being a grad student
There are more links on Shanjun Li's website.
How to publish & refereeing
Job Market (see also section on writing and presentations)
(see also presentation tips from Eliana La Ferrara and Kjetil Storesletten)