More words of wisdom from Pete Boettke at my former grad-school
“There are a few rules of thumb that I think might be useful as you transition from being a student to attempting to becoming a researcher:
- Remember that all ideas are brilliant until put down on paper.
- Tell us what you know, not what you think — you haven’t earned that right to tell us what you think yet.
- If a reader thinks your paper is unclear, by definition it is unclear.
- Writing is research, don’t sit and read forever without trying to construct an argument.
- Read everything, but don’t do literature reviews.
- Concentrate your criticisms on “sins of omission” not on “sins of commission” —- nobody likes writers who only criticize the works of others, you have to pursue opportunities that are being missed and be constructive not merely critical.
- Focus your research energies on your passions, pursue truth as you see it with abandon, but also learn to tame your passions and convictions with reason and evidence.
- Originality in scholarship is similar to originality in music — you don’t come up with new notes, you simply arrange them in a novel fashion. Don’t expect to discover new concepts in economics, but take concepts and mix them or apply them in novel ways.
- As hard as you are currently working, someone is out there working harder and at a higher ranked school — recognize the competition you have entered and learn to compete effectively by pursuing your comparative advantage and out working your competitors.
- Try to make sure that you write your ideas down, present them to your professors and peers, and learn to revise your argument. Your ability to improve between drafts of your papers will determine how far you go in this business. The best people have the greatest improvements between drafts. Those who are impervious to comments and don’t revise effectively will have a tough time. Of course Mozart might have gotten it right on the first take, but few of us ever do. Write, edit, rewrite, write again. If you are going to be a professional academic economists you are going to be a professional writer and speaker, learn your craft and take pride in it.“