Resources

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.

Learn how to make good graphs: Figures are extremely powerful ways to communicate ideas. Remember the Flatten-the-curve graph? That graph conveys complex ideas about epidemiological modeling in a super easy, intuitive and easy-to-explain way (h/t to Andrew Heiss). No need to show equations or models or anything, that one figure conveys it all. If you can summarize your paper in one figure, you are well on the way. Read online or pick up a copy of Data Visualization by Kieran Healy and take a look at the course on data visualization by Andrew Heiss. See some other good examples and look at the first figure in this blog post to get an idea of how useful a good figure can be for communicating your results. You can find code and guides on how to do this below.

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 to manage a good workflow: It is extremely annoying to go back to an old project to find that you do not know where the data was constructed, where that graph was made, or how you got your main results. Figuring out the workflow should be the first step you take in a new project. A good workflow will also help your collaborators figure out things, which might save you many emails of the type "Where did you create that graph again?". Asjad Naqvi has a good guide on workflow in Stata, which is also applicable to other programming languages.

Learn how to automate 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. The Stata-to-Latex guide by Asjad Naqvi is also great

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. Alex Albright has a great list of resources for R and data science and for undergrad thesis writing. A few days after creating this website I found Masayuki Kudamatsu’s tips for economists. 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. You can also check out the AEA’s list of links. I would strongly encourage you to check out these sites too.

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).

Source: XKCD

Asking for feedback

Source: Julia Evan, https://twitter.com/b0rk

An example of great science communication. Source: Andrew Heiss

Presentations

Jon Schwabish - Better Presentations (book) and website for making better presentations. Highly recommended

Jesse M. Shapiro - How to give an applied micro talk

Shengwu Li - How to give an economic theory talk

Rachael Meager - Public Speaking for Academic Economists

Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham Beamer Tips

Kjetil Storesletten - The Ten Commandments for How to Give a Seminar

Eliana La Ferrara - How to present your job market paper

Carmine Gallo - How to Rehearse for an Important Presentation

Marc F. Bellemare - 22 Tips for Conference and Seminar Presentations

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

Lasse Lasse Heje Pedersen - How to Succeed in Academia or Die Trying Have Fun Trying

Deep Work by Cal Newport (book). (see also his blog, Study Hacks)

Steve Pavlina - 7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output

Ben Olken - My Epic Failures

Ariel Rubinstein - 10 Q&A: Experienced Advice for “Lost” Graduate Students in Economics

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!

#EconTwitter & Networking

#EconTwitter & Networking