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Judith Shapiro UK Undergraduate Economics Research: Can we encourage it better nationally? Could this pay off.

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Presentation on theme: "Judith Shapiro UK Undergraduate Economics Research: Can we encourage it better nationally? Could this pay off."— Presentation transcript:

1 Judith Shapiro UK Undergraduate Economics Research: Can we encourage it better nationally? Could this pay off (for most or all)? Cardiff 10 September 2009

2 Origin of Paper is in Envy: Some activities the other side of Atlantic Many UROPs and Summer Programmes: local Local but consider how to encourage: Reading, Warwick, Sussex, Cambridge (not economics), others? Stanford 2009 (w/ LSE comparison) Carroll Round Conference Georgetown Atlantic Economic Association and Journal Best Undergraduate Paper Competition

3 Fundamental EN resources: P eter Smith, The Undergraduate Dissertation in Economics: a practical guide chapter in The Handbook for Economics Lecturers also Kim McGoldrick, Undergraduate Research in Economics (also Handbook chapter) Added idea today: to encourage further and go beyond dissertation, partly ( not only) to inspire students about economics as a career

4 Evidence base needs reinforcement Example: see American Economic Review, Volume 95, No 2, Ronald G. Ehrenburg, involving Undergraduates in Research to Encourage Them to Undertake PhD Study in Economics Research Time-Consuming for Students and Academic Staff. Given High Opportunity Costs we should be seeking a stronger evidence base. (this is not to question ruling priors: quite the reverse!)

5 Possibilities to consider: Undergraduate Journal Online only or also some hard copy? Editors? Undergraduate Working Paper Series Online and/or PDF with cover and ISSN Who/how much/ to edit (Annual) Conference Parameters: when, scope, how organised? Competition, even Atlantic Econ Jnl analogue

6 Highly selective case study Aid and Public Finance: A Missing Link? will be one of four Best Undergraduate Paper international finalists at Atlantic Economic Association October conference in Boston. (Cambridge has another of the finalists). Previously atop ward winners, Georgetown Universitys April Carroll Round conference. Unusal outcome, but indicates possibilities, arguably across a range of UK institutions. Grew out of absolutely voluntary weekly Undergraduate Research Workshop at LSE

7 TRUE-type resources needed Hardest of all: how to do research Goldilocks problem: Undergraduate guides too vague, PhD suggestions too daunting Examples of what I Recommend: John Creedy, Starting Research The Australian Economic Review Don Davis: Ph.D. Thesis Research: Where do I Start? [Columbia] `Hal Varian, How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time for theory Angrist et al informal how I do for econometrics






13 Anders Jensen Presentation Summer Research Workshop July 2009

14 Background & motivation Summer internship at Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy Over the summer, read some papers & got some first opinions on a possible research question: link between public finance and foreign aid In my case, research question emerged not from prior economic knowledge, but from simple curiosity: I had no academic background in this area

15 Learning process (I) Michaelmas Term: 1 st step: find the data! Have a look to see if the big picture fits my ideas… World Bank, IMF, Penn tables, UN Statistics, ICRG Get help from the librarians: they are very friendly, and very competent 2 nd step: find the relevant literature: To make sure the question hadnt already been answered And, to find some benchmark papers (this was a great help to me) 3 rd step: presenting in the Research workshop: useful and a great learning experience

16 Learning process (II) End of Michaelmas/beginning Lent: 1) Question: what format do I want this piece of research to take? How far am I willing to go? (that is, how much time am I willing to dedicate?) 2) Answer: Carroll Round (will come back to this), helpful to work towards a deadline exogenously imposed upon us 3) By then, project became teamwork (Markus Gstoettner): previously sceptic of working with someone else, am now convinced it can be a great advantage: Can do twice as much in same amount of time! Lonely nights in the library: mutually motivating…

17 Output (I) End of Lent: submitted unfinished research to Carroll Round Beginning of April holidays: took 5 days with Markus to finalise the paper

18 Output (II) 1) Carroll Round: Undergraduate competition, hosted by Georgetown University Students from all over the world Organised like a seminar: formal presentations reviewed by professor and students, discussions Enriching experience: Helpful feedback concerning our paper Meet other undergrads driven by same interests Get to travel! Won a book signed by Taleb (!) 2) Atlantic Economic Journal undergraduate competition: -paper submitted -if chosen, presentation at Annual conference in Boston in October -possibility of publishing in academic journal

19 Advice It really can be done: Did not have any particular knowledge in the area of research: learn as you go along Took up some consequent time, but manageable (motivation-driven) Mutual feedback between 2 nd year academics (Econometrics, Macro) and this ongoing project

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