David Romer’s Rules for Making It Through Graduate School
and Finishing Your Dissertation
“Out in Five”
- Don’t clutter up your life with other activities; just write.
- Don’t carry out a thorough and comprehensive search of the literature; just write.
- Don’t attempt to make sure that every page you write shows the full extent of your professional skills; just write.
- Don’t write a well-organized, well-integrated, unified dissertation; just write.
- Don’t think profound thoughts that shake the intellectual foundations of the discipline; just write.
- If you don’t have a paper started by the spring of your third year, be alarmed.
- If you don’t have a paper largely drafted by the fall of your fourth year, panic.
- Have three new ideas a week while you are getting started.
- Don’t try to game the profession, work on what interests you.
- Good papers in economics have three characteristics:
- A viewpoint.
- A lever.
- A result.
This is a fax to myself. I first saw this list on my 1st year at grad school. I was not out in five. I know on which points from the above list I did well and on which ones I was more lackluster. (Of course, I won’t reveal it in here because everything you say on the web can be used against you.)