Collected advice for young economists

by on April 28, 2008 at 9:19 pm in Economics, Education | Permalink

Lots of links, mostly excellent.  The Lucas research memoir was new to me.

Hat tip is to Craig Newmark.

1 anon April 28, 2008 at 10:33 pm

To be honest, I found the bit in Lucas’ memoir about “Economic theory is mathematical analysis” horribly depressing. It convinced me that either Lucas is inane or I don’t belong in a mainstream graduate economics program. Though maybe this was the point.

2 Andrew April 29, 2008 at 6:56 am

I always try to read advice for females.

Mostly, good advice is good advice. And if I get good advice that most men don’t read, I’m ahead. Not to mention, I’m not an economist. People partition too much. We aren’t that different.

This part was kind of annoying, though.

“For young women, especially those who look even younger than their age, it is crucial to establish social distance from students, even grad students and TAs. They are not your colleagues or your pals. Professional dress can help reinforce the distinction in students’ minds.”

Is it really that female professors need to be more snobby? Or is it that the system needs to be less snobby? Do we really need more classism in a system that is supposedly training the next generation of profs who are hopefully (for everyone except current profs) even better than the trainers? You know, the whole progress comes from standing on the shoulders of gians.

On the other hand, some advisors in my department have gone so far as insisting that we use their first name. Now, to me, this is ridiculous, and at best is a symbolic gesture that tells me they don’t get it. I’m sure they were told to do this as another mechanism of control “Hey, let them call you Joe so they don’t feel like this is a caste system.” But it IS a caste system. That’s part of the reward for a lot of people! They simply deserve the respect they’ve earned, and we deserve the same.

3 Jeff Smith April 29, 2008 at 7:22 am

1. The link is not working at present.

2. Establishing social distance from undergraduates is important for new professors of either sex.

3. I have undergrads call me “Prof. Smith” and graduate students call me “Jeff”. While there is clearly a power asymmetry between a graduate student and me I think it is helpful to emphasize that graduate school should involve knowledge flowing both ways (perhaps not in equal amounts) rather than solely from the professors to the students. Indeed, one of the reasons why it is a perk to teach at a school with a good graduate program is precisely that one learns a lot from the graduate students.


4 indiana jim April 29, 2008 at 9:20 am

Hamermesh is correct advising young economists who want to publish in a “good” journal against writing “comments”, but the fact that it is good advice is an unfortunate aspect of what has happened at top general interest journals. In the 1960s and 70s critical commentary was regularly around 25 to 30 percent of the articles published in the AER. But this has plunged to around 12% as a result of an explicit policy to eschew critical commentary in favor of major works chosen by its editors and co-editors. For more detail on this decline see:

5 indiana jim April 29, 2008 at 10:02 am

Kwan Choi also advises the young against writing comments on other people’s publications. One of his reasons is that if a comment is rejected, there is no where to send it without major revision. HAPPILY, THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE. Why not? Because of Dan Klein’s Econ Journal Watch, which specializes in publishing critical commentary on works published in the so called “good” journals. This is a fabulous development for the profession, because of the void that has been created by the deliberate downsizing of critical commentary by top journals (see my above post for a link to an article published by EJW on this decline). Why is it fabulous? Because EJW is filling the void: it is the forum for the trial of new ideas by critical thinkers. The process of debate, criticism, commentary, and reply contributed greatly to the success of our discipline during the last century. It is fabulous that this tradition has not been ended simply because the “good” journals’ editors currently have chosen to insulate accepted authors’ papers from criticism.

Whether it is in the best interest of young scholars to criticize publications in top journals is a difficult question; I will offer no advice to the young. However, to the disenfranchised middle-aged (or older) scholars who are disgruntled about having had comments rejected by “good” journals (or about the ideas in print in top journals), I strongly advise you to dust off your rejected comments (or write new ones) and submit them for consideration by EJW.

6 anon April 29, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Thanks. Right back at you.

7 M June 30, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Page is down — can someone please provide an alternative link?

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