Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Self-depreciating...

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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Robust to foreign aid

Work on Stata to do a couple of suggested regressions. Find that foreign aid to health sectors does not change after democratization in Africa, which supports my claim. After going home and cooking dinner, feel sick. Still tired from the trip to Belgium.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Back in London

Back in London by the first Eurostar train in the morning. After washing my clothes, go to Sticerd. But my brain doesn't work much...

On the Job Market

Now I'm officially on the job market* this academic year (see this).

*If you want to know what the academic job market for economics PhD students is like, have a look at Cawley (2004) and House, Weir, and Fafchamps (2002).
This means I'm going to be (and I have already been) ridiculously busy in the next several months, perhaps until next March.

Therefore, I won't be able to update this blog until I get a job or until I decide to challenge again next year.

Having said that, I have kept, and I will keep, writing down what happens to me everyday, because, to the best of my knowledge, none of economics PhD job market candidates in the past have made public their personal experience of academic job hunting in detail, which I believe creates inefficiency every year in terms of the time allocation decision faced by job market candidates. But I don't make it public at this moment as it takes time to edit my writing and as I don't know what can be public and what cannot until the whole process is over.

Anyway, if you visit this blog from time to time, please stop doing it at least until next March. I won't update this blog. Until then, wish me luck.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

4th Development Economics PhD Seminar at Namur

Attend the 4th Development Economics PhD Seminar at University of Namur. Am a bit nervous because this is the first time to present my job market paper in front of people and because I didn't practice it at all. During a coffee break after the keynote speech, I go out of the seminar building and practice my presentation by talking to myself. After the break and another student's presentation, it is my turn.

What I worry a lot is whether I can finish my talk within the time limit. The allocated time length is 25 minutes (plus 10 minutes for my discussant and 10 minutes for questions from the floor). But I'm surprised that I manage to finish it without rushing. I'm also surprised that I manage to handle all the questions. Most questions and comments are those someone else already raised before. But it's useful to learn what questions are likely to be asked over and over again.

After the whole seminar is over, we attend the seminar dinner at a cool restaurant nearby. There I enjoy an academic talk with Gani, a former visitor to Sticerd and now assistant professor at Namur. Two Asians talking about economics in Belgium.

Then I have an opportunity to talk to Jean Marie. He keeps saying he likes my paper. That's the most encouraging thing to hear as I admire some of the works he has done. He says, "We - faculty members at Namur - were critical of your work because we wanted you to work more on this." I will. I certainly will.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Off to Belgium

Prepare presentation slides for the PhD seminar at University of Namur tomorrow. Finish it just before leaving for Belgium. Directly from the LSE, hop on to the Eurostar to Brussels. Change there to a train to Namur. Stay at the place of three Namur students.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

IMF Interview

IMF preliminary interview at the Westbury hotel in London's West End at 9:30 am.

Interviewers are the chief recruitment officer from human resources department and a senior economist (who turns out to be a former member of STICERD).

The recruitment officer first explains briefly what the Economist Programme is like. Then she asks me if I can finish my PhD next year. She says it will be very hard to do the IMF work and the PhD thesis at the same time. She suggests to apply next year if I don't think I can.

The senior economist asks me about my AEA Papers & Proceedings paper written with Tim. He asks if that paper is related to my job market paper, and which paper I'm going to present at Namur.

The recruitment officer also asks me if I apply for the World Bank's Young Professionals programme.

Then she asks me to describe my research.

I first explain the research question and its importance (academically rather than practically). While I'm explaining my methodology, the senior economist asks, "What's the definition of democracy?" So I explain it. Then he asks, "Is Cameroon democratic?" I say no. I'm lucky as Cameroon is one of the sample countries. But I may be asked about other African countries outside my sample. I'd better prepare for such questions.

After explaining my main results, the interview moves on to the next section in which they test my knowledge of macroeconomics. The questions they ask are

1. Regarding the monetary union, what characteristics do member countries of the union need to share? How does the union affect the labour force? Does the monetary union play a role of risk diversification in terms of macroeconomic fluctuations?

2. Regarding Japanese deflation, why is deflation problematic? How did Japan get out of it? (I was asked this question presumably because I'm from Japan.)

3. Regarding China's increasing foreign reserves, who bears the cost of it?



I DON'T KNOW.



I can't talk almost anything. I have absolutely no interest in macroeconomics of rich countries. An overnight review of chapters on open economies in Mankiw's macroeconomics textbook does not help at all.

They seem to be disappointed by my interview performance. The recruitment officer says, "When I saw your CV, I thought you were more suitable for the World Bank."

The interviewers end up advising how to get a job from the World Bank. The facts that (1) I'm a Japanese citizen---international organizations all look for Japanese citizens as we are underpresented in the international organizations compared to the money the japanese government contributes to them---(2) I'm getting a PhD from LSE, and (3) my research is interesting, all go in favour of me. If I have a working experience in a developing country, it will be perfect because the Bank is looking for those with working experience in poor countries. The senior economist suggests working with, say, the ministry of education in an African country next year and then applying to the Bank.

I don't know how to respond to this. Maybe I should ask why then they wanted to interview me? But I don't know such a question is acceptable in this kind of situation...

Leave the hotel and take a stroll of Saville Row, nearby the hotel, for the first time in four years of my life in London. Ozwald Boateng, whose catwalk show I watched at V&A, looks the coolest in the show window.

------

Arrive at Sticerd and start making presentation slides for this Friday. I end up 22 slides for 45 minute presentation. It seems I should forget about a couple of main results and focus on one main result to convince the audience that this main result shows the effect of democracy, not something else. That will be closer to the real job talk. Covering all the main results in a superficial way does not provide a good practice for the coming job talks.

Submit my CV and job market paper to the Royal Economic Society Second PhD Presentation Meeting. To do this, revise my job market paper slightly (just by correcting typos, editing figures, etc.). As one of requirements is an email from the supervisor confirming that I will be completing my PhD by October 2007 and does not hold at the moment a regular position in a department or equivalent institution in the UK or elsewhere, email Sue (my supervisor's secretary) about this.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Many things go on all at once as always

Revise my CV given that I now present my work at a UK university. This is the fifth time revision of my CV.

Receive email from Mark. He set up job market candidates' personal information webpages. Reply to him what part I want to make corrections.

Send address label Excel sheets to Leila and Sue. Also give Leila my CVs and a document that explains my CV for helping my referees to write references.

Have lunch with Cheyok. Ask her how to be calm when you are busy working on many things all at once. Her answer: Prioritize what to do.

Book a hotel room in Brussels on the coming Saturday night.

Receive email from Shoji-kun, a PhD student of economics in Tokyo. He gave me lots of detailed comments on my job market paper. Thanks a lot.

Work on Stata. Run some additional regressions. All of them turn out to be rather not supportive to my job market paper...

Monday, October 23, 2006

A confusing day

When I arrive at my desk in Sticerd, I can't start Windows on my PC.
Ask Joe, an IT staff, for help. He says my PC has got a hardware problem, which means I can't do anything (I don't bring my own laptop to Sticerd today).

So I change my schedule. While the PC is being fixed, I talk to Dave, a fellow PhD student at Sticerd, as he read my job market paper and wanted to give me some comments. He suggests to change the introduction. He has a point. I probably need to write two versions of the introduction and show them to my referrees to see which one is better. Dave also doesn't like the measurement of democracy part.

Attend Monday lunchtime PhD seminar. I keep thinking about what to do today without my PC working. Maybe taking a rest? I don't feel well today...

After the seminar, the PC gets fixed. So I change my schedule again.

While having lunch at Sticerd communal area, Leila comes to me, saying that she's happy with my plan on sending reference letters.

Start working on Stata to do a bunch of additional regressions suggested by Torsten, Oriana, Robin, etc...

I was scheduled to talk to a seminar speaker at today's LSE/UCL Development and Growth seminar, at 1530. Then I received email from Oriana, saying the speaker is arriving late. My slot is cancelled.

Then Dave and Erlend, whose meetings with the speaker are not cancelled as they are among the first to request for meetings, kindly suggested to me and Paolo, another job market candidate, giving their meeting slots. So I end up talking to the speaker as originally scheduled.

The speaker likes my paper. He especially seems to like the measurement of democracy part. Different people like different parts of my paper.

Talking about my job market paper will be crucial in the job market process as I will need to talk to a bunch of people about it at job interviews in Chicago and during campus visits. But it's a difficult task. Even if you organize what to talk and in what order, your listener will certainly interrupt you. Responding to that requires change in the order of what to talk. As a result, my explanation of the paper gets confusing. I need to make a contingency plan.

Back to my PC, working on Stata. Find rather unfavorable results to my main findings...

Time for the D&G seminar. The presented paper is about a randomized evaluation of interventions to improve health systems in Uganda. When the speaker presents the effect of interventions on vaccinations, I speak up. "How did you measure children's immunization status? Measles immunization shouldn't be given to babies aged less than 9 months."

After the seminar, Robin teases me as a child immunization specialist. :)

Go home as I don't feel well. Eat Japanese food. And go to bed early.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Now working on my job market paper again

Start preparing slides for the 4th Development Economics PhD Seminar at Namur this coming Friday.

Also organize job talk tips from various job market guides available on the web. Job market guides tend to be dis-organized in their structure, contrary to what they suggest doing for writing a job market paper and giving a job talk. :-) Unless I spend a bit of time organizing them, I won't be able to absorb the tips offered in a coherent way.

Receive email from Iwan, saying he wants to invite me to his school's labor seminar on 2 November. Oriana mentioned him about my work, after reading my paper last weekend. This is what Tim suggested to do - present my work with a different audience! I'll definitely take this opportunity.

Email Leila about my plan on sending reference letters.

Receive email from Tim, saying he needs my CV when he writes references.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Day Off

Take a day off. Wake up at 1pm. Have a Japanese brunch (rice, miso-soup, baked salted salmon). Wash my clothes. Clean the kitchen a bit.

Go out to buy an international telephone card in Chinatown (I will use this quite often when I miss calls from schools abroad). A cornershop at 86-88 Shaftesbury Avenue (postcode: W1D 6NG) sells a Telco Global OK card which expires 365 days after the first use (usually 60-90 days for this kind of cards) with 45 percent discount. As a result, I can make any international call for less than 1p per minute.

Buy Time Out City Guides for Brussels (see 11 October) and Chicago (where job interviews will take place). I think I should enjoy academic trips.

Have an Ethiopian dinner with Kirsten, Yuri-san, etc.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Done with the sorting-out of "formal" application for the time being.

Bump into Tim at STICERD communal area. Ask him how serious I should be about the formal application. He says that it doesn't count for the US job market. What matters is when the recruiter solicits the submission of your application by contacting placement officers in each school. That's going to be late November. Your job market paper must be in good shape by that time. Some require formal application as a necessary condition. But, in general, US market is based on such informal network. For other countries, formal application may matter.

He doesn't think that applying for 100 schools, as often argued to be the best strategy, is sensible. Applying for 0 school is certainly not the best, either.

Give to Sue documents needed for my supervisor to write references (job market paper, transcripts, CV, and one-page letter which clarifies my CV, describes types of jobs to apply, and requests for including a statement on my English ability in letters).

Discuss Sue about how to arrange letters. She wants to send them all at once. But I won't be able to make all applications before the earliest deadline (according to some job market guide, recommendation letters must arrive slightly later than my own application). So ask her to send letters for the first group of schools, and to pass the rest to Leila. She's very supportive, saying, "I will do whatever you want. I'm a slave for you." This job market madness drives secretariats crazy as well.

Create three Excel spread sheets each of which includes addresses of schools to apply for sending letters of recommendation. Why three? Because my job market paper won't be fully ready before sending out aplication packets to meet the earliest deadlines. I decide to send the packets in three bunches so I can include the revised job market paper for schools with late deadlines.

Find out which school accepts letters via email. This makes a lot of difference. Given that it takes at most 5 days for airmail to arrive overseas from UK, the effective deadline changes a lot depending on whether schools accept letters via email or not.

Email my referees to tell them that the earliest "effective" deadline for sending reference letters as part of "formal" application is 6 November.

I think I've done with the arrangement of recommendation letters. I will make my own application early November, just before the first batch of reference letters will be dispatched on 6 November. Until then, I will focus on my job market paper.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Still busy...

Receive email from IMF. I will have a preliminary interview with them at a hotel on Bond Street in London on 25 October. Attached to email is the description of this preliminary interview. It seems that I need to brush up my macroeconomics knowledge, which may be impossible...

Also receive email from a staff member in the Department of Economics at LSE, saying I have £300 funds available for postage related to job applications.

Email LSE post room to ask how sending job application packets works. The Department will pay the postage if I use regular air mail.

Receive email from Sawada-sensei about his own experience of the PhD economics job market. He says scheduling fly-outs is very important because too many flights exhaust you and undermine your seminar presentation performance. As I'm applying to all over the world (from Hong Kong and Singapore to Spain, Ireland, Italy and Sweden, from Australia to Canada) this can be a major concern for me.

Irrelevant to me, but an email on a job opening from French university is forwarded to all job market candidates at LSE. It's all written in French. The French market is completely closed from non-French speakers. Then Emmanuel, a french guy among us, emails us, saying, "Just for your information, you can be on the French "job market" only if you defended your thesis before December 15th and that the University National Council has approved your application for being hired!"

Try to organize everything about reference letters. Email Sue and Leila - my referrees' assistants - on the arrangement of sending reference letters. The earliest deadline is 4 November. But this school's website also says "closing date for applications: 2006-11-24". I contacted the university staff, but they don't know for sure. But they say as long as I've made online application, reference letters can arrive later than the deadline. So I've decided to ignore 4 November when it comes to reference letters. Torsten and the Harvard job market guide say, "Relax about application".

So the earliest deadline is 13 November. Airmail takes within 5 days from UK to US (3 days on average). So I make 7th November as OUR deadline for sending references.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Busy...

Revise the introduction, the conclusion, and the abstract, by following commnets from my supervisor and Oriana.

As asked by Tim, I put the printed copy of the paper into his mail box in Sticerd.

Prepare the submission of the job market paper to the Moriguchi prize. This has nothing to do with the job market, though.

Email my supervisor with the revised version of the job market paper.

Bump into Robin at the Sticerd communal area. Ask him if he wants to see the list of schools to apply. His answer is yes. Email him with the Excel sheet of the list. He also says he hasn't read my revised job market paper. I ask him to download the latest version of the paper from my website. So I email him with the paper address as well.

Check application deadlines for all places to apply. Most schools (17 in total) set November 15 as their deadline, one school November 4 (which later turns out to be a typo), one school November 13, three November 17, one November 20, one November 22, three November 24, one November 25, one November 27, one November 28, one November 29, four November 30, fourteen December 1, five during December, three during January, eight does not specify, one says immediately, six says until positions are filled.

Email Mark about transcripts. Five schools require transcripts including one school that demands the submission of a transcript in the PDF format.

The "online application" madness certainly reduces the efficiency of organizing applications for job market candidates. When it comes to reference letters, two schools only accept letters that are uploaded on the webpage. At one school, the reference writer needs to know a candidate's "access code". The other school requires a referree to enter his/her "referee code" which is emailed when an applicant enters their email address online. Another school accepts letters only via email. I need to discuss my referees' assistants on how to deal with these.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rewriting the Introduction

Email Sawada-sensei in Tokyo to ask about job openings in Japan. Very few Japanese universities advertise job openings on AEA's JOE. He emails me back within a few hours, giving me several useful pieces of information.

Joe, an IT support staff in Sticerd, replaces my school PC with a new one. Hopefuly, this speeds up Stata handling near 700,000 observations for my job market paper.

Rewrite the Introduction of my job market paper following advice from my supervisor and Oriana.

Start feeling slightly sick. So go home before 7pm.

Monday, October 16, 2006

73 places to apply.

Talk to Oriana, who read my job market paper. In addition to so many useful comments on the paper, she tells me why job market candidates need to apply for so many schools:

1. Use an offer from a school you're not interested in to solicit an offer (or a better offer) from another school which you're interested in.
2. Get to know more people who are interested in your research.

Add one more field to my secondary fields of research/teaching: applied microeconomics.

Send my CV to IMF.

Choose 73 places in total (including IMF and one post-doc position). I can't increase the number of schools any more.

Torsten stops by at my desk, saying, "Don't spend too much time on applications. It's wise to allocate time to research. A marginal cost of sending one more application is very low while checking whether a particular school is worth applying is costly."

My advice to job market candidates next year and onwards: Apply to every school in the world's top 100 as long as they have openings (except for top 25, for which you need approval from your supervisor). Plus, pick up other schools specializing in your field of research.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Which school to apply (still continues...)

Still decide which school to apply. But my nose starts running in an uncontrolled way, and I go home early.

I have managed to find 50 job openings so far. I need another 50...

The following is the list of economics department I rely on:
http://www.econphd.net/rank/nrtrade.htm. Why network ranking? The network ranking incorporates publications by coauthors of faculty members in each school. Economists often visit schools in which their co-authors are faculty members. A high rank thus implies that the quality of visitors (and seminars) is high. It's useful to identify schools strong in your field which are otherwise obscure in overall rankings.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Which school to apply?

Try to decide 100 schools to apply. Manage to select 45 schools (including six of top 10 schools) so far. At the same time, create an Excel spreadsheet of postal addresses which I will send Mark who will then creates address labels. In this process, I find that the application procedure differs slightly from school to school. A factor contributing to the complication is online application. Some schools require online application only (which can be either filling in an online form or emailing all the documents in the PDF format), some prefer online to postal application, some allow both, some require online "pre-application" in addition to postal application which includes a print-out of the filled-in online pre-application form, and others accept postal application only. This is MAD.

Find the job market information webpage for Harvard job market candidates. Also find that the December 2003 issue of Journal of the European Economic Association features articles on the rankings of economics departments in the world.

Goldin and Fryer (2006b) --- one of the job market guides on the Harvard website --- say "Don't apply to places that you would never consider. But do apply to places that are reasonably good but perhaps not in the right location or not with the best faculty. You don't know at this point ... whether this place will be useful in other ways (e.g., strategically or over the long haul --- you are always in the market)."

Fill in the online application form for NYU Department of Politics, because "applications received by October 15, 2006 have the best chance of being fully considered." The deadline for political science departments is earlier than economics departments. Following Tim's advice (see 10 Oct.), I decide not to apply for political science departments except for NYU. Why? NYU seems to me the most approachable to someone with economics background as several faculty members write papers with economists.

Can't attend Yuri's Japanese dinner party. Instead I eat sandwitches for dinner in front of the computer...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Address spreadsheet

Bump into Robin. Ask how many schools I should apply. His answer: 70 for US, 30 for Europe...

Receive email from Mark to urge me to submit the Excel spreadsheet of addresses of schools I'm going to apply for. Then he will make address labels to be attached on the application packets. I promise him I will do by next Monday, which means I need to decide which schools to apply by next Monday.

Struggle with one pontentially damaging aspect of my job market paper all day.

Submit my CV and job market paper to Mark. This is for the Department's job market candidate webpage.

Submit my job market paper to RES Annual Conference held next April.

Which school to apply???

Morning:
Register the ASSA Meeting, costing 35 US dollars.

Cancel a hotel room in Chicago (see 5 October for why).

Receive email from Tim on the abstracts on our joint research in progress, modify my CV acccordingly, and send it to Mark again.

Replace the CV in the HTML format with the CV in the PDF format on my website, following advice from my supervisor.

Look for teaching evaluation, which I need to give Oriana for helping her write a teaching reference. But I can't find it, and so ask Mark for a copy.

Receive an Excel template address spreadsheet from Leila. She's an assistant for three of my four referees. When she sends recommendation letters to the schools I'm applying for, she needs the addresses of these schools. But she has her own preferred way of managing addresses. That's why she gives me the template Excel sheet.

Afternoon:
Talk to Torsten, visiting LSE this term. He gives me several useful suggestions for the revision of my job market paper.

Try to decide which school to apply. But I'm overwhelmed... The October issue of JOE (this is where you can find job openings for economists) lists hundreds of schools. I begin with 30 schools or so from which I'm sure I would accept a job offer. Then I try to increase the number of applications to check department websites etc. because my referees advise me to aim for 100 schools. Indeed, 25% of economics job market candidates should apply for more than 100 schools (see page 14 of Cawley 2006).

Evening:
Revise the data appendix and abstract for my job market paper.

Email Rocco, a previous year LSE job market candidate, to ask how he chose which school to apply. His answer: "Apply anywhere you would accept an offer, if it was the only one you had." An exception to this is top schools for which he said, "Talk to your referrees frankly."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

29th Birthday

A busy, busy day...

Morning:
1. Receive an acceptance message from the organizer of the 4th PhD Student In Development Economics Network Seminar at Namur University! The decision has been delayed due to a large number of applicants. My job market paper is still accepted as one of the six papers presented at the seminar. This is a good signal. Also this will be a very good opportunity to present my research to the audience outside LSE: what Tim strongly encouraged me to do.

2. Send a CV to Mark. Struggle on what to do with my contact detail during my stay in Tokyo late December (see below). Receiving a call in Japan with my UK vodafone handset costs 1.25 pound per minute. I put my Japanese pay-as-you-go mobile number in the end.

Afternoon:
1. Book a return flight to Japan. Strictly speaking, I don't need to go back. But why not relax a bit just before the climax of the job market process starts early January? All seats for Virgin Atlantic have already gone for my preferrable dates of departure. All Nippon Airways have got some seats on the aircraft flying to Tokyo on 18th December. I will be back in London on 26th December.

2. Collect job openings advertisements from the JOE website. 22 schools so far...

3. Talk to my supervisor. He read my job market paper thoroughly for the first time before this meeting, and he says, "With this paper, you can apply to anywhere you want." I don't believe my ears. He gives me a couple of suggestions to improve the introduction, which most people will only read. As he's away from London later next week, I need to revise it by next Wednesday. On the issue of the choice of fields of research and teaching, he tells me to write down a field that you want to teach as a secondary field. So applied econometrics is fine. Regarding the fourth reference letter, he says that a teaching reference from Oriana is a good idea given that East Asians have a bad reputation on teaching (which is sadly true...).

Evening:
1. At STICERD Welcome Reception (it's the beginning of a new academic year!), talk to Valentino, who got a PhD in economics and is now a lecturer at Department of Government. Ask him about what is like to get a job in a political science department. Get useful information on it.

2. Book Eurostar return ticket to Brussells for the Namur University conference (see above). Will leave on Thursday 26th, one day before the conference, because the earliest Eurostar train doesn't make it to the beginning of the conference. The conference organizer is very helpful, offering accommodation at some PhD student's place for two nights. Although it's in the middle of a job market process, why not do sightseeing a bit? As Eurostar on Saturday is all pricey, I book the earliest morning train on Sunday. Need to find an accommodation in Brussells on Saturday night.

3. Catch Oriana when she's leaving her office and ask for a teaching reference. She says yes. I will give her a copy of teaching evaluation from students that I got two years ago.

Mass-mailing of CVs of job market candidates

Send my CV to Mark. One reason for this is to mass-mail CVs of all job market candidates at LSE this year to many academic departments (which is "a standard practice amongst many of the top US schools" as Mark puts it). But Cawley (2006, p.19) writes:

Likewise, your department's mailing of CVs is not a substitute for a job packet mailing. Stock et al. (2000) found that only about half of hiring departments even review the packets of CVs, and only about 20% reported scheduling an interview on the basis of the CV packet.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fourth Recommendation Letter

I have already secured three letters of recommendation (from my supervisor, Tim, and Robin). One concern, however, is that none of them know my teaching performance as I never worked for them as a teaching assistant. Noll (2005, p.19) say that one element of recommendation letters is "an assessment of your abilities as a teacher".

So I asked Oriana for writing my fourth recommendation letter because she's the only person who knows my teaching performance. She replied, saying "I don't think it's necessary." I thought this implicitly meant she did not want to write because she couldn't write a good letter for me.

But it was a wrong guess. When I bump into her at the STICERD communal space today, I ask her why she thinks her letter is not necessary. She says, "Robin (my third referree) should know my teaching." If I point out that is not the case, then she explains the reason a bit more, which reveals something I never knew before.

Recommendation letters for job market candidates consist of (1) description of the job market paper and (2) contribution of the job market paper. Your supervisor's letter is the most detailed and long while other letters are shorter. Oriana says that four letters that are all describing my paper and contribution will be too much.

But she says if my supervisor and Tim say it is a good idea for me to have Oriana's letter on teaching, she will write one. So I ask my supervisor on this tomorrow.

CV

Prepare my CV as Mark, our job placement administrator, asks job market candidates at LSE to submit one by midday tomorrow. He gave us a template CV, so it is rather easy as I only need to fill blanks. However, difficulty lies in "Works In Progress" section as I need to explain such works briefly. This takes a lot of time. Especially, two of them are joint works with Tim. So I email him if he thinks I should include them as "works-in-progress" on my CV.

An important item on CV is "Desired Teaching and Research Fields" (Hall 2001). According to Noll (2005, pp.12-15), "[y]our primary ... fields are the areas in which you do research and would advise graduate students; your secondary fields are those that you have the qualifications and interest to teach." A consensus recommendation on this seems to be to "define fields broadly". Noll (2005) also recommends consulting your advisers about your field choices. So I will when I talk to Maitreesh about which level and type of schools to apply tomorrow.

Cawley (2006, p.7)'s recommendations on CV are:
1. "The date your CV was revised should appear somewhere on the document."
2. "Keep detailed lists of every presentation, every award and grant you receive, and the journals for which you have refereed." (So I include a presentation at University of Essex last March.)
3. "[L]ist a phone number at which you can be reached if prospective employers wish to interview you. Make sure that you list a number connected to voice mail or an answering machine. If you list a phone number associated with an office used by a large number of graduate students you may fail to receive some messages." (So I put my mobile number instead of a shared phone number at STICERD.)

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Receive email from Tim, answering my question on whether I should apply for political science departments: "I doubt that you want to try to break into the pol sci scene. It is very difficult and I doubt that you would share many common interests."

Receive email from my supervisor and we arrange our meeting tomorrow to discuss which school to apply.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Booking a Flight to Chicago, Talking to Seminar Speaker, and Criticized by Public Health Researcher

Book a return flight ticket from London to Chicago to attend the ASSA meeting in early January. I may not get any job interview offers at the ASSA meeting, but booking a flight just before the meeting is risky.

Talk to today's seminar speaker visiting LSE (see 5 October). Although my job market paper is not relevant to his research, he says it's interesting and he understands why I'm on the job market with this paper. That's a good sign, isn't it? He also asks me about other projects in my dissertation, and I talk about the ethnic conflict project. He says the empirical result (ethnic groups losing power suffer in terms of infant mortality) is interesting, but he asks a question of why this is so. That's a fair point and I need to think about it harder.

Attend LSHTM's public health lecture on sanitation and hygiene. After the lecture is over, I talk to the lecturer for asking some questions related to my job market paper. A logical progression is that I talk about my job market paper to this lecturer. She's very skeptical on my findings, making me think harder about my paper.

Revision finished

Finally manage to revise my paper. Send it to my three referrees and Oriana.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Talking to Seminar Speakers Invited to LSE

Oriana emails me and Paolo (one of my fellow job market candidates), suggesting talking to a seminar speaker for LSE/UCL Growth & Development Seminar next Monday. I thought he wouldn't be interested in my job market paper. But Oriana says it is very useful for job market candidates "to get comments and to practice exposing your ideas in a short span of time." She's right. During the course of the job market process, you will have many opportunities to talk to other economists briefly on your research, either at job interviews or at informal conversations to faculty members during campus visits. This will happen even if your conversation partner has no interest in your research. So we should prepare for that.

Various job market guides recommend getting to know what kind of research the economists you will meet have done in the past before doing job interviews etc. So I will do it for next Monday's seminar speaker.

Hotel booking

Get a room at Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers for which I was waitlisted. This hotel stands just between the headquarter hotel and the all-suite interview hotel, probably the best hotel location other than the above two. My waiting-list stragegy worked! (See 26 September. See also 1 October for why staying near the headquarter hotel is important.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Personal Website

Attend an orientation meeting for LSE economics PhD students who plan to go on the job market this academic year. I ask one question to the Placement Director (who happens to be my supervisor).

What should my personal website look like?

Answer: Purely academic in a minimalist way. Discard links to non-academic stuff including your (ie. my) blog. :-)

Mark, the superb administrative assistant at our department, recommends having your personal website because this allows students to update their job market paper and CV regularly. Emailing them to your department assistant to let him/her upload it on the department website takes time.

Introduction and Conclusion

Writing the Introduction has been a headache for me because I can come up with several ways of introducing my main finding that democratization in Africa reduces infant mortality via increased public health service delivery. I can begin by describing poverty in Africa, a hot issue during the last couple of years. I can begin by stating a grand question of whether democracy does any good to people. Or I can begin by talking about the recent economic literature on the effect of political institutions on socio-economic outcomes...

Chapter 15 of Booth, Colomb, and Williams (1995) discusses how to write the introduction for an academic paper. They mention three ways of begining the paper: (1) Open with a striking fact or quotation; (2) Open with a relevant anecdote; and (3) Open with a general statement.

I come to think that one of the most important facts underlying my paper is that many sub-Sahara African countries have been democratized. But few people know this fact: My supervisor was surprised by looking at the list of 24 African countries that introduced multiparty elections for executive office. Robin stresses the fact that few people know many African countries are now democracy. So I should probably "open with a striking fact". Actually, my first draft began with African experience of democratization. And Ikegami-kun, one of my friends interested in development economics, told me that the introduction in the first draft was well-written. Then I changed it in the third draft that I finished this Monday.

So I'm back to the original idea.

For the conclusion, Booth, Colomb, and Williams (1995) offer three ideas.

First, close with a new significance or application. If your research is motivated by a practical problem in the world, stress one additional importance of the problem you solved. Compared to other reasons for why readers should care about the problem in the introduction, this one must be "at a level more general" and "provocative enough." If your research is not motivated by a practical problem in the world, propose an application of your research result that is "some new and perhaps even unexpected benefit of clearer understanding that your solution might have."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Revision again, Introduction of the paper, LSHTM lecture

Email my supervisor and Tim if they want to read the current version of the paper or a version after another round of revision to incorporate Robin's comments. Both say they wait for another round of revision. So I start doing it.

As I have difficulty writing the introduction section, I ask my supervisor (when I bump into him) for any suggestion. He recommends this book (and here's some background of the book).

Attend the first of LSHTM's public health lecture series titled "Public Health and Millenium Development Goals". The lecturer mentions one interesting study: a randomized trial in Tanzania that shows the significant effect of matching the burden of diseases and the allocation of financial resources on child death. This implies that even without an increase in funding there is room for child health improvement. That might have been what happened after democratization in Africa.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mock Job Talk Scheduled

A new academic year begins at LSE today. Every Monday lunchtime (1-2pm) is a PhD student seminar in the field of development economics. Today, we decide in which week each PhD student presents their research. As a job market candidate, I'm allowed to choose a slot first along with Marieke, another job market candidate this year. We received email from Tim already in which he mentions dates when he can come to attend the PhD seminar. My supervisor also emailed me saying that he cannot come to the seminar at one of the dates Tim mentioned. (See 25 September.) So I take 13 November and Marieke takes 6 November. This will be a mock job talk. We will be given one hour and a half, dress formally, and give a presentation on our research as if we gave a job talk.

Remember that there are three stages of selection for PhD students in economics to get a job of assistant professorship: an application in November, an interview at the ASSA Meeting in early January, and a job talk during the campus visit in mid-January to mid-February. A good performance during your job talk gets you a job.

Receive email from Tsuda-san at Institute of Developing Economies, a research centre in Tokyo. I have a couple of friends working there and I've asked them if I could present my research in front of Africanists at the Institute. They have accepted my request and the date of the seminar is decided to be 22 December. I will schedule my stay in Tokyo late December around that time to buy a winter suit and eat delicious Japanese foods immediately before the job market activity enters the crucial stage.

Finish the revision of the paper with lots of compromises and send a PDF file copy of it to the organizer of the fourth Development Economics Network PhD student seminar at Namur University, Belgium, on 27 October. If my paper is accepted, this will be a good opportunity for me to present my research outside LSE before going on the job market (see the end of this previous post). Fingers are crossed.

Receive email from Nagano, one of my best friends during the college days. It is an invitation to his wedding party early November. I need to decline this as it is impossible for going back to Tokyo in the middle of the whole preparation for going on the job market. But I reply to him saying that I want to celebrate when I'm back in Tokyo late December.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why booking a hotel room in or near the ASSA meeting headquarters hotel is essential

Revise the paper from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm...

A finding on the Tuesday before the last was incorrect. With alternative measures of democracy, I still obtain similar results. Which is fine, anyway.

By browsing the AEA website, I figure out why booking a hotel room in or near the headquarter hotel is important (see 26 September). This document says,

"Job candidates have difficulty locating interviewers at the ASSA meetings. Interviewers do not know their room numbers prior to check-in and thus cannot tell candidates in advance."

Therefore, the AEA will set up the "Job Interview Suite & Room Information Table", where interviewers come and leave their room numbers, and candidates come and learn the locations of their interviews. And the Table will be set up at the headquarter hotel. Staying in or near the headquarter hotel thus makes it easy for you to locate where your interviews take place.