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2009-04-17 16:26:52|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Body of the paper



Your task now is to get to the central result as fastas possible. Most papers do precisely the opposite: They have a longmotivation, a long literature review, a big complex model that then getsignored, descriptive statistics, preliminary results, a side discussion or two andthen finally Table 12 of “main estimates.” By then we’re all asleep.



Here’s the rule: There should be nothing before themain result that a reader does not need to know in order to understand the mainresult.






In most papers, the “main result” is empirical. Theremay be some theory or a model, but if you (or the editor!) ask “does this paperexpand our knowledge of economic theory?,” the answer is “no.” The theory isthere to help understand the empirical work. Following the rule, then, thetheory must be the minimum required for the reader to understand the empiricalresults.



Do not write a “general” model and then “for theempirical work, we now specialize the general shock process to an AR(1), we useonly 2 firms rather than a continuum, we assume agents have quadratic utility,”etc. Work out only the specialized model that you actually take to data.



Empirical work


Start with the main result. Do not do warmupexercises, extensive data description (especially of well-known datasets),preliminary estimates, replication of others’ work. Do not motivate thespecification that worked with all your failures. If any of this is really important,it can come afterwards or in an appendix.



You will mightily resist this advice. If you can’tfollow it, at least do not put anything before the main result that a readerdoes not need to know in order to understand the main result.



Follow the main result with graphs and tables thatgive intuition, showing how the main result is a robust feature of compellingstylized facts in the data. Follow that with limited responses to potentialcriticisms and robustness checks. Most of those should end up in your webappendix.







Really, a conclusions section should not be necessary.If you did a good job of explaining your contribution in understandable prosein the introduction, and then documenting those claims in the body of thepaper, (writing in good triangular style), then saying it all over again ispointless. I tried omitting the conclusions section a few times, though, andthis was too radical for editors and referees. It is true that some people skipto the conclusion to look for the main result, but that’s because they are usedto authors who don’t explain it well enough in the introduction.



Thus, conclusions should be short and sweet. Do notrestate all of your findings. One statement in the abstract, one in theintroduction and once more in the body of the text should be enough! You caninclude a short paragraph or two acknowledging limitations, suggestingimplications beyond those in the paper. Keep it short though — don’t write yourgrant application here outlining all of your plans for future research. Anddon’t speculate; the reader wants to know your facts not your opinions.







Appendices are a great tool. Take that delicioussection that has so many insightful comments on the literature, the generalversion of the model, the 57 robustness exercises that you did, and dump themin to an appendix. This is a good way to get them out of the paper. Eventuallyyou’ll dump them out of the appendix too.



Seriously, careful authors, referees and critics oftenwant to document that the main result is robust to various other ways of doingthings. You have to do that, but once you’ve verified that it does not makethat much difference and you’ve found the one best way of doing things in yourmain result, it isn’t worth space in the paper to present all the checks and variations.Appendices are a great way to solve this problem, and you can just summarize allthe things you did in the paper. You can put the appendix on your and thejournal’s website. (“Bond risk premia” with Monika Piazzesi is an example of aweb-appendix gone wild.)

老实说,仔细的作者、评委和评论人,经常都希望这篇文章的主要结论,对于各式各样的其他方法,都是稳健的。你也必须做到这一点。但是,一旦你弄清了,它并不是那么有效的,而且,你在主要结论中,找到了一种最好的做法,那么,你就不要浪费纸张,把所有的检验和变化,都写进去了。附录是解决这个问题的最好办法。你可以总结论文中所做的全部事情。你可以将它放在你的网页上和杂志的网页上。(Monika Piazzesi的那个“债券风险价格”,就是一个让人抓狂的网页附录的例证。)



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