Matthew Olckers


My favorite tips for economics PhD students

  • tips

I often meet with seminar speakers. At both PSE and Monash, I had the privilege of meeting amazing researchers, including faculty from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, etc.

The researchers were very kind to share tips with me and here are some “gold nuggets” I think all economics PhD students should know.

“Look towards local knowledge for inspiration. You know things about the world around you that nobody else knows.”

“You need to be working on what will be in journals two years from now. Not what is currently in the literature.”

“The academic job market is one unique chance where you can advertise your work. No other times do you have the same opportunity.”

“Keep your ass in the chair. If you write one page per day, that will be two new papers per year. If you don’t do at least two new papers a year, you won’t get tenure.”

“Read outside of economics for inspiration. People don’t do that enough.”

“There are a lot of bullshitters out there, and simple rule to separate them is: Can you publish?

“When you give an empirical seminar, your audience will remember one number. You need to decide what that number will be in advance. You give your motivation so that they will want that number, then you provide it, and your robustness is always relative to this number. Finally, your conclusion brings home the number.”

“Does your research answer an interesting question, or are you seeing what happens if. Your research must be driven by something that is interesting for the world, not manipulating existing models.”