Using this space to collate academic resources I’ve personally found the most constructive. I make this qualification because plenty of advice I’ve seen widely circulated over the years absolutely would not work for me: my advice for reading advice is to feel emboldened to reject it.
Preparing for grad school
- A guide to full-time research assistant positions (jobs now called “pre-docs”) as a stepping stone to quantitative social-science PhDs (Coly Elhai, Quan Le, Kai Matheson, and Carolyn Tsao)
- Taking off the academic blinders
- Thoughts on the first year of an economics PhD
- I have made some of my notes from the PhD coursework sequences from both my graduate schools available on here in the past but Luke Stein’s impeccable notes on the Stanford core sequence put them to shame.
Academic skill development
- How to critique academic work, helpful for referee reports and seminar discussion (Macartan Humphreys)
- How to build an economic model in your spare time (Hal Varian )
- Most academics taught themselves how to code. Some tips here (specific to R) on remedying bad habits (Jennifer Bryan and Jim Hester , particularly Sections 2 and 3 on project-oriented workflows)
- The anatomy of an applied micro talk (Jesse Shapiro)
- A style guide for mathematical writing (Donald E. Knuth, Tracy Larrabee, and Paul M. Roberts) , particularly Section 1)
The transition from coursework to research (Paul Niehaus)
“An alternative way to create structure is to focus on your system. By system I mean the habits and routines you develop and practice on a regular basis. For example, attending the seminar each week, writing down three suggestions for ways to improve the paper, and meeting afterwards with a classmate to discuss your ideas is a practice you might incorporate into your system. In designing your system, your aim is to give yourself a high probability of eventually accomplishing your ultimate goal (come up with a great job market paper) even though you cannot predict with any certainty the sequence of events through which this will come about.”
How to find research ideas, among other valuable insights on topics such as co-authoring and choosing journals to submit to (Susan Athey, int. Simon Bowmaker , pp. 6-8)
“My econometric theory was very similar. I’d be working on an empirical paper, and I’d say, “How can I think about the conditions under which this empirical approach would work?” And I would read papers with informal descriptions of the reasoning, and I would be dissatisfied. And so I would say, “Let me write this down, and if I do it formally, maybe then I’ll understand.” As I started writing things down, I would realize that there was a deeper, more general idea. And I felt that other people would benefit from having that clarity of conceptual insights in their own empirical work, and so I wrote it into econometric theory papers. Almost all of my very theoretical papers have been motivated by trying to solve an applied theory problem, and realizing that I would have more clarity about the specific problem if I understood the generality.”