Published on Development Impact

Weekly links January 27: data legality, stata tips, learning from many many rejections, and more…

This page in:

·       The AEA has a new data legality policy – which now appears with background on the rationale for the policy, the types of data that might be a concern, and how it deals with things like the study of tax evasion and illegal activity; scraping of web data; and laws on data legality varying across countries.

·       Gaurav Datt has a two part tribute (part 1, part 2) remembering Martin Ravallion on the Development Policy blog.

·       Asjad Naqvi has updated his collection of self-proclaimed awesome Stata tips.

·       Learning from 1,000 rejections – Alex Edmans reflects on 7 years as Managing Editor/Editor of the Review of Finance, in which he had to reject 994  papers – and lessons from common reasons for rejection. “These suggestions are divided into three themes: the contribution, execution, and exposition”. Under contribution he has: i) Results are insufficiently novel; ii) results are insufficiently important (why do we care about the result?); iii) not a good fit for a general interest finance journal (should/does the average reader of the journal care about the topic); iv) results are insufficiently generalizable; v) paper only considers one side of the trade-off (this is an interesting one – the point being if you only document benefits of a financial decision without documenting costs, this might be insufficient); vi) paper lacks clear hypotheses (often linked to theory).  Under execution, one discussion useful for our readers is about the use of instrumental variables “some readers get a bit suspicious when a paper claims an IV approach in the introduction but does not describe the instruments, as it suggests the authors may not be sufficiently convinced about the validity of the instruments themselves, and so do not wish to describe them in the introduction but bury them deep into the paper…. a common theme across many rejected papers – they often appeal to other papers to justify a certain approach. Often these papers are unpublished or in minor journals. Even in major journals, it may well be that research has evolved since then, and a methodology that was considered acceptable in the past is now considered to be flawed”. – and useful discussion about rejecting instruments based on peer group averages, lagged variables, and justification based on over-id tests. Also useful discussion on abstracts and the introduction “One of my most common phrases in decision letters is how expensive “real estate” is in the introduction. It is even pricier in the first page and dearest of all in the abstract. Thus, that a sentence is relevant and adds value is not sufficient to include it; it must add enough value to justify the cost of the real estate.”

·       “what if we fail a robustness check? Often times this leads the author to despair, readers to quickly dismiss the paper, and referees to recommend rejection. That, too, is lazy. Failing a robustness check is not, in and of itself, a reason to condemn a study. It should be the start of the discussion, not the end. This failure tells us this particular modeling choice matters for the results. Now, the intellectual work begins. Which model is 'right'?” – Dan Millimet on how not all robustness checks are created equal, and why you should have a reason for your baseline model being the model you think is most likely to be correct.

·       Call for papers: the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) will be held at the World Bank in Washington DC June 5-6, with a focus on growth and resilience. Submissions due March 3.

·       Job opening: Two year post-doc to work on impact evaluations in Egypt and other MENA countries with JPAL. The J-PAL MENA Post-Doctoral Fellowship, which is open to recent graduates of PhD programs and junior academics, will provide opportunities to conduct randomized evaluations on topics related to development, climate change, inclusive growth, human capital and labor, and other topics.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000