Economisting Blog

Resources I’m reading on doing, presenting, and publishing research

How to publish applied economics papers

Take away points

  • Expect rejection, and rejection is okay!
  • Also expect to wait….
  • Know your journal, its aim and scope, who publishes and what is published
  • Craft not just good analysis, but also a good story
  • Place your research within the literature, filling a gap or expanding on an outstanding question
  • Sell your question, and answer
  • Write with style and flow
  • Dial in the elevator pitch, and turn this into your abstract and introduction
  • Don’t bury the question
  • Make tables and graphs readable, and meaningful
  • Focus on the question and the contribution
  • and look at the following……

The introduction formula

  • A good boiler plate model
  • Hook, question, antecedent, value-added, road-map

The conclusion formula 

  • Summary, limitations, relevance to policy, future research

How to give an applied micro talk 

  • Clear question
  • Preview the findings
  • THEN, go into detail, but spare the boring details about processing data
  • Present a clear and explicit model
  • …”no pauses unless you really want to stress something”
  • Use tables strategically
  • Practice!

Updated Abstract: Carceral Schools and College Expectations

Revising my research and my abstract:

This study examines the impact of attending a carceral school- that is a school with metal detectors, locker checks, police or security staff, required identification badges, locked doors, and surveillance cameras- has on students’ expectations that they will attend college in the future. Using pooled data from the National Crime Victimization Survey: School Crime Supplement 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, I show that visible and intrusive security measures negatively impact students’ expectations of their future educational attainment. Using a probit model, I estimate with significance that metal detectors are associated with a -0.024 marginal effect on a student’s expectation of attend any college after high school and a -0.021 marginal effect for expecting to graduate from a four-year college, while controlling for achievement, race and ethnicity, gender, age, private or public school, area of residence, parental education level, and household income level. Further, I show that for non-white students, the effects tend to be larger, and that for Black males, the presence of security guards or police has a negative effect on expectations of attending any college in the future. I survey the literature on the school-to- prison pipeline, school security, and racial identity and schooling to theorize that four channels contribute to this negative effect: the crowding out of college preparatory resources, internalized negative feedback and stereotype threat, discipline and the achievement gap, and developing perceptions of injustice with regards to school security. This finding illustrates an important negative spillover effect of increasing school security in regards to student’s expectations of their future educational attainment.”

Things I’ve learned so far in the dissertation process

So far:

  • progress isn’t always linear, but that still requires putting hours in every day; somedays feel like zero progress, other days are filled with momentum
  • ask Stata for help (help reshape)
  • actually, ask everyone for help, advisors, professors you know, phd friends, etc.
  • interdisciplinary research can make you feel deficient across subjects (“am I citing enough economics??”), but bringing together multiple disciplines will definitely give way to unique insights
  • #EconTwitter is, in fact, very helpful and can keep you up to date on new research on your topic and the field in general, and also help make some professional connections (I’ve made several great ones!)
  • find your conference (someone else very smart actually told me this one)
  • read for fun, not just on your topic.
  • write down all 8000 of those next research questions
  • version control!!!! +date all of your files
  • it’s okay to not have the “perfect” model or findings; just prove you know what to do with what you’ve got
  • work through all of those feels about research and writing; keep a log where you “warm up” by reflecting on possible challenges for today’s task and then  “cool down” by reflecting at the end of the day on how you are tackling your challenges and next steps
  • drink 500 beverages a day at your desk and stay hydrated
  • go outside every few hours
  • “always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper”

Recent Book Reads: Econ of Ed and Race, Spring 2019

Here are some things I’ve read or am reading recently (somewhat) related to my research topic, that I have really enjoyed. I’m calling it Econ of Ed even though these are all written by sociologists (and one journalist), but this just speaks to the point that if economists really want to understand inequality behind the numbers, read sociology!

The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Abraham Jack

What an informative, critical, and cathartic read for me (as a #firstgen). Jack follows a group of students at an elite college coming from distinctly different backgrounds and educational experiences: the upper-income students, lower-income students who attended a private or elite high school, and lower-income students from less resourced schooling backgrounds (the “doubly disadvantaged”). For anyone wanting to understand the transmission of inequality, even in the empirical “best” of circumstances”, this is a must-read and illuminates so many flaws in our higher ed system. Read Jack’s take on the admissions scandal as well.

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy  by Tressie McMillan Cottom

I can’t rave about this book, this author, and her writing enough. Tressie McMillan Cottom is a force. I actually read this when it first came out a year or so ago. McMillan Cottom shows us how for-profit institutions exacerbate inequality by preying on the marginalized. A lot of the findings of this book also speak to issues of credentialization outlined in this Roosevelt Institute report on student debt. On a personal note, I felt very validated as a budding economist reading this book, since a few years ago I recall noting in the NCES data the startling racial and gender segmentation in the for-profit sector (think trade schools vs. cosmetology and nursing assistants).

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side by Eve L. Ewing

Again, a force of a writer! In the depths of my imposter syndrome, I often forget why studying public schools is important. Not just important, but should be at the forefront of any progressive research agenda. Ewing reminds me in discussing why it matters to study Chicago’s school closings: “The people of Bronzeville understand that a school is more than a school. A school is the site of a history and a pillar of black pride in a racist city. A school is a safe place to be. A school is a place where you find family. A school is a home.” (155-6) Alongside preserving history, family, community, and home, schools are a massive and formative interaction that we all have with the state, and one we still feel ownership over. Schools hold the possibility of a space of progressive transformation.

The Warm of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

I’m still only a small bit through this one, but it goes beyond “epic”. Here are some reviews from NYTimes and the New Yorker. I really look forward to finishing this one.

Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Okay, this isn’t really economics or dissertation related at all, but everyone should read this if you want to understand racism, inequality, capitalism, patriarchy, and so on and so on. Here’s an emotional and painful excerpt on her experience with medical racism.

That’s all for now. What else should I read?

New Studies on Schools and Policing: At what cost?

My dissertation explores some of the negative spillover effects of the “school-to-prison pipeline” dynamic- a trend encompassing increasing use and severity of school discipline, increased interaction with the criminal justice system in schools, zero-tolerance policies, and public schools that look more like prisons than educational facilities. I’m interested in understanding how these measures impact students, both those students directly impacted by discipline but also those exposed to these “carceral” school environments. One specific area to look at is how police in and around schools impact student outcomes. Do cops in schools make students safer, or are there negative spillover effects of creating a more carceral school environment?

A few new publications begin to explore the relationship between policing, schools, and student outcome. Owens (2015) uses administrative data on school resource officers and federal hiring grants to show that the placement of law enforcement officers in schools gives officers more information on crime in schools and increases the likelihood of arrests for those crimes. The study also shows that these additional hires aid in drug chargers both on and of school campuses and increase crime reporting in neighborhoods. Owens’ study however does not interrogate what the impacts on student outcomes are associated with increased SRO hiring, and if anything, illuminates the effectiveness of school policing in creating “school-to-prison pipeline” dynamics. Weisburst (2019) uses data on federal grants for Community Oriented Policing Services in Texas, to show that the increasing placement of police officers in schools associated with these grants increases middle school discipline rates by 6 percent, with Black students experiencing the largest increases. These grants are also associated with a 2.5 percent decrease in high school graduation rates and a 4 percent decrease in college enrollment. Legewie and Fagan (2019) use innovative data on policing surges associated with Operation Impact in New York City to show how these surges impact educational outcomes for students. Using administrative data, they show that exposure to these surges reduces test scores for Black boys, and the effect increases with age.

These studies begin to shed light on some of the distinctly negative impacts that school policing may have for educational outcomes. Specifically, these dynamics negatively impact Black students (often boys) more so than other groups, contributing to racial inequality and stratification. 

Short Abstract for “Carceral Schools & College Expectations: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Survey School Crime Supplement”

This study examines the impact of attending a “carceral school”- that is a school with metal detectors, locker checks, police or security staff, required identification badges, locked doors, and surveillance cameras- has on individual students’ expectations that they will attend college in the future. Using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey: School Crime Supplement 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, I show that visible and intrusive security measures negatively impact students’ expectations of their future educational attainment. Using  a probit model, I estimate that metal detectors and locker checks are associated respectively with a significant -0.026 and -0.017 marginal effect on a student’s expectation of graduating from a four-year college in the future, while controlling for achievement, race and ethnicity, gender, age, private or public school, household income level, and time. I then survey the literature on the school-to-prison pipeline, school security, and racial identity and schooling to theorize that three channels contribute to this negative effect: the crowding out of college preparatory resources, internalized negative feedback and stereotype threat, and developing perceptions of injustice with regards to school security. This finding illustrates an important negative spillover effect of increasing school security in regards to student’s expectations of educational attainment.

Morning Read: New Orleans Public Schools now to be all charters

“Thursday night, New Orleans public schools as we knew them ended. With a 5-2 vote by the Orleans Parish School Board, the last remaining public high school in New Orleans became its latest charter school.” This article on Charter Schools and Race in New Orleans interviews community members at the meeting where New Orleans became the first city to have its school system entirely run by charter (called InspireNOLA).

This quote in particular struck me as describing the logic of the school privatization push, not just in New Orleans, but across public schools in the United States:

“You are teaching our children to serve. While the other schools are teaching theirs to lead. I have a definite problem with that-you gonna look like me. How can you do that? …”

This is a shocking decisions for a number of reasons, including the lack of communication with parents and children, the lack of choice by not having high quality traditional public schools as a fallback for students, and the increasing evidence that charter schools exacerbate inequality and do not meet the needs of all children (here is a very new paper explaining exactly that point).

I have a few questions: who is funding and lobbying for InspireNOLA? What are the interests at hand?