I think I have posted several times something on story telling. I just saw this short video on youtube on story telling by Robert McKee (see his famous book). McKee is a screenwriter and consultant on basically anything involving teaching people to become better communicators primarily through story telling. I just wish in academia there was more story tellers…
In the preface of Mandelbrot’s book “Fractals and Scaling in Finance”, Mandelbrot says the following on financial modeling:
An ideal model of price variation is one that produces sample data streams that are hard to distinguish from actual records, either by eye or by algorithm, and achieves a good part of this goal without ad-hoc “patch” or “fix”.
Can’t wait to read his memoir that will be release in October of this year.
More I do research the more I find cool and useful tools to make a researcher’s life more efficient. Here are the tools that I use often and why:
Remember Everything is Evernote’s “branding message” and its correct. With Evernote, any research ideas that pop up in your mind you can write it down in Evernote’s apps. This app syncs with your PC/MAC, phone, tablet etc.
Omnifocus (for Mac products only, 80$)
Omnifocus is personal productivity application. It’s costly but how effective to keep track of all your work, projects, bills to pay, etc! It is not a personal agenda! The app was in part developed with the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.
A personal library of research. Keep track of all your research articles and make sure they are well organized.
You may probably know what Google Reader is. It’s your own little hub of all the blogs you follow. I like it to follow other academic blogs. I get a lot of ideas from there.
I am surprised that many don’t know Google Alert. With Google Alert, you can ask to report you, on a daily basis, any new stuff on the web that was created in the last 24hours on a topic of choice. A great way to keep track of what is going on in your field of research.
Skim allows you open any PDF documents and annotate them the way you want. Let’s just say it’s easier to annotate documents in PDF using Skim when sharing your research with co-authors than using LaTex.
Stack Overflow is a website where all programmers meet and help others who need help with MATLAB, SAS, PYTHON, C++, etc. I had to learn Matlab real fast and without Stack Overflow, it would have taken me an eternity. You can get replies really fast and when you submit a question. Make sure you approve the answers (if the correct one) suggested by authors to build up your reputation.
In the recent Foreign Affairs, there is brilliant article by Neil deGrasse Tyson titled “The Case for Space”. Neil argue that countries that pursue their curiosity and interest for space has amazing spillover effects within countries like innovation, advancement in science and math, etc. Smart people needs an environment to think and push their curiosity freely. Exploring space is not only for the sake of exploring space. Brilliant.
I am currently reading the great book Against the Gods by Peter Bernstein and we learn a lot about John Maynard Keynes and its view on risk. Like Karl Popper, Keynes believes that we have a very limited knowledge. So much that there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability. In the words of Bernstein “Keynes’s words bring great new: we are not prisoners of an inevitable future. Uncertainty makes us free.”
Couldn’t agree more! Imagine if life was certain… how boring would that be!
I recently added a new page for my website titled “Guides and Tips”. You will find in this section the following: (1) How to conduct great research, (2) write great research, (3) publication process, and (4) on the job market + becoming a junior faculty + teaching tips.
All the documents you will find under these four sections have collected for the past months. Hopefully this helps!
The current Review of Financial Studies’ editor Matthew Spiegel recently wrote a brilliant piece for the recent RFS March 2012 edition titled “Reviewing less — progressing more”. This editorial piece concerns recent and worrying trends in the publication process of academic finance (and probably other) studies.
Presumably, academic journals exist and publish articles to disseminate new ideas. Somehow that simple goal has been lost. Today, articles appear in print only after a referee is convinced that all other alternative explanations for its results have been ruled out. In reality, no article can exclude every possible alternative, so this is basically an exercise in futility. The criterion for publication should be that once an article crosses some threshold it is good enough to publish. The problem seemingly lies in our
inability to say “good enough.” But this is a problem we can fix.
This is a must read! (I particularly adore the last paragraph on page 8 and its following on page nine…“What if an article is important—that is, people read and cite it? In that case, academics will dissect its every aspect. Some will examine the article’s data filters; others will check for coding errors; still others will look for missing factors or reverse causality explanations. The list is endless. But, that is the point. The list is endless. Authors, referees, and editors cannot even scratch the surface. Nor do they have to. The fact that our colleagues will stress test any important publication means our profession’s received canon of knowledge has a self-correcting mechanism built in. We have faith that important articles are “right” because their results have been tested over and over again in myriad ways. Instead of trying to preempt this by demanding authors perform ever more tests, we should instead just let the academic process work by publishing articles if they are likely to be interesting. After that, let the profession determine if the author’s conclusions are accurate—or rather, that they are interesting enough to even make checking for problems worthwhile”)
My masters research “Do Political Institutions Affect the Choice of the US Cross-Listing Venue? is now available on SSRN. I ended-up co-writing with my research with my thesis director and co-director who did a lot of work on the data side.
We study the impact of political institutions on foreign firms’ choice of their U.S. cross-listing venue. Using two measures of political institutions (an index of political rights and a political constraint index) and controlling for various firm-level and country-level characteristics, we show that foreign firms from countries with weak political institutions are more likely to cross-list in the U.S. via the over-the-counter market and less likely to opt for an exchange-listed program (i.e., New York, Nasdaq, and AMEX).
Category Presentation Tips, Presentations, Research
John Cochrane of the University of Chicago wrote a brilliant advice paper to PhD student few years ago. The paper should be read religiously by all PhD research students. The section on seminar presentations (section 4) covers short and sweet guidelines to increase the probability of success when it comes to presentations. It may be incomplete on various presentation aspects but nonetheless one of the best place to start thinking and structuring your presentations. Below I copy/paste the section 4 of the paper (page 11–12). Read it carefully… it is not long!
4 Seminar presentations
You will not believe how fast the time will go by.
Since time is limited, it’s especially important to get to the point. We can’t skim to the
important stuﬀ in a seminar!
You don’t need any literature review or motivation in a seminar. Just get to the point.
Gene Fama usually starts his seminars with “Look at table 1.” That’s a good model to
Don’t “preview” results. It wastes time; why say it twice rather than say it once, right?
Don’t make slides with a bullet point for every word you intend to say. This forces you
into a preplanned order, and then you can’t change on the ﬂy when you ﬁgure out how fast
time is going by. Slides are ﬁne that only contain equations, tables and graphs — things
we really need to see. At most use words for the one or two really important things you
want people to know, e.g. “Identiﬁcation: interest rates do not respond to ﬁscal shocks in the Ricardian model.” Also, you want people to remember the structure of the model, deﬁnitions of variables, etc. If you have too much junk on the slides, people can’t see the utility function while you’re talking about the production function, so they get lost. People don’t remember equations from one slide to the next.
You have to leave slides up for a decent amount of time in order for people to digest
them. That means you will not be able to put up 1 slide per minute!
As in writing the paper, your main objective is to get to the #1 important contribution
as fast as possible.
Most seminars are a disaster. They start with pointless motivation and policy implications, which the audience can’t follow since we don’t know the result. Then we get a long
literature review, which is even more boring since we don’t know the point of this paper
much less what everyone else did. Then we get a results preview. Usually, the presenter says “I’ll preview the results now because I may not have time to get to them all,” a strangely self-fulﬁlling prophecy. Since showing the main results is the only reason you came, why not just start right now! Worse, the reason we run out of time is because we wasted half an hour on the stupid preview! The seminar then bogs down as people start asking questions about the previewed results; most of the questions are dumb (“I measure the demand elasticity at 0.3.” “But how did you identify supply shifts?”) since they will be explained in a proper presentation of the results. But the questions are totally reasonable since the claim with no documentation is meaningless. Next, we get (in empirical papers) some “theory” that is really beside the point and only serves to provoke more needless argument (no, there really is no way to distinguish the “behavioral” and “rational” explanation. Clever audience members will come up with stories that reverse all the signs.) Then we get some distracting preliminary results and tables and graphs of unrelated observations. More pointless discussion erupts; people don’t know what point the speaker is trying to make and the discussion goes oﬀ in to tangents. Finally the speaker sees there is only 10 minutes to go, tells people to be quiet, and the main results go by in a big rush. Everyone is tired and confused and doesn’t follow anything. I timed the ﬁnance workshop last winter quarter and not one paper got to the main results in under an hour!
Listen to the questions, all the way to the end, then count to three before answering.
Yes, you’re in a rush, and yes, you think you can guess what the question will be and you
know the answer. This isn’t a game show, and much of the time you actually don’t know
what the question will be.
Keep a sheet of paper handy. You may not have a quick answer to every question, and
some questions may point to good things to change in the paper.
You cannot make it too simple. Most presenters, especially Ph. D. students overestimate
dramatically how much theory people can digest in one sitting, and how quickly they can
memorize and digest models and results.
Speak loudly, slowly and clearly.
There’s nothing wrong with ending early!*
* I bolded the last line… and not John Cochrane. Finishing earlier does not kill anyone.
Many say that Japan’s struggling economy of the last 20 years is result of the poor entrepreneurial risk-taking. We know that avoiding risk is something that is culturally embedded. It is known that when you fail once as an entrepreneur you will be known as a failure for the rest of your life. Quite hard to get the motivation to take risk right?
I am currently on my third to Japan (a place that I now call my second home) and every time I question how this economy can get back on its feet again. We can always push the people to take more entrepreneurial risk but we must recognize something… that country lives in an environment where dangers and risks surrounds them day in and day out: tsunamis, everyday earthquakes, the crazy North Koreans, typhoons, volcanos that can erupt at any moment, and now nuclear risks. Maybe, culturally, the individuals are fed up on taking more risks — they have plenty to cope with already!