Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Watch Christian Lacroix's catwalk show at V&A with Sonia during lunchtime. A good break from all the hell.

Back in Sticerd, talk to Robin. He read my paper and his main comment concerns the style of my presentation. He says my research result is convincing. But the way I write the current version of the paper is "self-depreciating". We are talking about the job market in the United States, a country that loves aggressiveness and assertiveness, a country that embraces the culture of self-promotion. So he guides me through how to write the conclusion and the introduction. For example, I include a few limitations in the concluding section. But Robin tells me to delete them. He also suggests restructuring the organization of the paper, making it flow naturally. He also tells me to use 12pt font size (I was using 10pt) to get the paper legible and to discipline yourself in terms of the length of the paper. As I need to submit applications by the beginning of next week, he tells me to revise the paper by the end of this week, and then he will read it through quickly.

Then Oriana asks me to come to her office. She says my invited seminar talk at a university in UK the day after tomorrow (see 22 October) can be an informal job talk. UK universities are late to place job opening ads. By the time they do it, the American job market is cleared with few good job candidates left. Consequently, they sometimes invite job market candidates at this time of the year and see the quality of their job market paper etc. "So don't be too relaxed about this seminar. Be prepared." That's what Oriana tells me. (She tells me this because she read a short note I attached to explain my CV for her to write reference letters. It seems to be always a good idea to tell your referees everything that's happening to you.) Oriana also gives me one piece of advice. If someone raises a question to which you don't know an immediate answer, always say, "It's a good question," and tell what you can do in terms of estimation if you come up with it immediately, or otherwise say, "We can discuss it later as I don't know an answer to it right now."

Start rewriting the introduction and the conclusion of the paper in response to Robin's comments. I learn that the conclusion consists of (1) the summary of findings in which each sentence deals with one finding; (2) implications of such findings (bridging the gap between the findings and the reader's interest) written in an assertive way; (3) re-stress the innovation of the paper in a different way than the introduction does; (4) stress the importance of the methodology taken in the paper for future research.

For the introduction, Robin says that the first paragraph should include the specific research question the paper deals with. Also the very first sentence should raise a broad question that interests every economist - in my case underdevelopment in Africa.

While revising the paper, I also refer to comments written on the earlier draft of my paper by Oriana and Dave. I learn some subtle usage of English phrases:

1. "seem to be" and "appear to be" are different, with the latter more assertive.

2. "life" is an uncountable noun and "someone's life" is a countable noun.

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