Thursday , June 17 2021

Weisbach advice

Summary:
I got a chance to see the page proofs of Michael Weisbach's upcoming book, "The Economists' Craft."  This leapt out at me from the preface: A second observation I have made over the years is that, perhaps because of a lack of good advice, many scholars, both doctoral students and faculty members, constantly make the same ...

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I got a chance to see the page proofs of Michael Weisbach's upcoming book, "The Economists' Craft."  This leapt out at me from the preface: 

A second observation I have made over the years is that, perhaps because of a lack of good advice, many scholars, both doctoral students and faculty members, constantly make the same mistakes. Far too many publicly circulated papers contain incredibly long, mind-numbingly dull literature surveys; introductions that go on and on before they tell the reader what the point of the paper is and why the reader should bother to waste her time on it; data descriptions containing insufficient detail for a third party to replicate the results; tables that are unnecessary, badly labeled, or hard to understand; or overly dry prose written in the passive voice and apparently designed to put the reader to sleep. In addition, many scholars manage their time so badly when giving presentations that they do not get to the main results of their paper until the last five minutes of the talk. Their presentations are often poorly designed, with slides that are incomprehensible or even unreadable owing to their use of fonts so small that participants sitting more than a few rows back cannot read them. Young faculty routinely mismanage their career by not having a coherent research agenda, not getting their papers to journals, or not making connections with people in their field who teach at other universities. Sometimes they do not even bother to show up for seminars in their field at their own university.

 So true. This book's contrary advice will be very useful. 

John H. Cochrane
In real life I'm a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. I was formerly a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I'm also an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. I'm not really grumpy by the way!

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