Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tim's advice

Meeting with Tim at his BOE office.

He starts telling me about the procedural stuff on the job market process: where to apply, how to post references, booking a hotel room in Chicago (where preliminary interviews are going to be held) NOW, etc.

I ask him why he thinks my paper is good enough to be on the job market. I don't think so because findings in my paper are not convincing enough. I cannot rule out the possibility that infant mortality drops before democratization.

But Tim says, "What the market looks for is a person who investigates an issue intelligently. You don't need a news-headline result." Then he cites two examples. One is his own work on property rights in Ghana. This paper is celebrated not because of his result (he couldn't find a positive effect of property rights on investment in the end), but due to the fact that he thinks hard about how property rights affect investment and provides a framework to analyze it (so that other researchers can use it). Another example is Angus Deaton's work on estimating demand functions. It ends up finding that the linear demand function does not work with data. But his work is well-respected because of his invention of how to estimate demand functions.

This is something all the PhD students should know.

He advises me to get the job market paper ready by 15th-20th November. The formal package of application isn't very important. For example, some top school does not open it. They contact job placement officers at each school and ask for sending the job application packet of the candidates they are interested in. This will happen after Thanksgiving (Last Thursday of November).

In terms of where to apply, he says, "A good place to be an assistant professor is those with lots of other junior faculty members with similar interest. So you can collaborate with them. Senior professors are important in terms of giving good advice. But nothing more than that."

The final piece of advice: try to book a seminar presentation with different audience (ie. outside LSE).

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