Thursday, June 23, 2005

For those who frequent Princeton Review Discussion Board to gather information on PhD programs in economics, requires no introduction.

Probably lesser known is the fact that its ranking of economics departments is now linked from a couple of official websites of economics departments (UBC and UTI, as far as I know). Presumably, those departments which are ranked higher than usually perceived love this ranking.

What I like about this ranking is that those non-academic institutions are also ranked. By comparing the score, we see that the World Bank's research productivity is ranked as 14th in the world, falling in between those nearly top 10 (UCLA, LSE, Columbia) and those whose research productivity is almost half of top 10. I didn't know that the World Bank did that well.

What's also interesting is its new "network" ranking. This ranking counts publications not only by faculty members belonging to the university of concern but also by their co-authors outside the university. Compared to the original ranking, noticeable is the LSE's breaking in to top 10 (12th in the original; 7th in the network ranking). I suppose that this is reflected in the gorgeous list of visiting professors and seminar speakers invited to the LSE. If you keep reading my blog for the past three years, you may notice quite a few big names coming to LSE from time to time. I belive that there is a correlation between the number of professors in a university who co-author papers with a lot of people (which implies they also know quite a few researchers outside the university) and the variety of visitors to the university.

I think this is one factor - an obscure one, though - that you need to take into account when you decide which university to go. I'm not sure if this applies to pure theorists. But if you aim to be an applied economist, your research productivity depends on how widely you know the literature in economics. Take Montalvo and Reynal-Querol's paper forthcoming in American Economic Review, one of the best academic journals in economics (see 16th May). Their breakthrough comes from their familiarity with the literature on civil war and ethnicity and with a highly technical paper Esteban and Ray (1994). If Drs Montalvo and Reynal-Querol - the latter got her PhD at LSE! (I didn't know this) - just read papers directly related to civil war and ethnicity, they would never be able to write this paper.

Obviously, just talking to your supervisor and attending lectures by professors at your own university, the scope of your knowledge is limited. If, in addition, a variety of scholars visit your university and give talks on their pieces of research, your horizon expands.

No comments: