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"Dissertating" January 29, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking.

Now that I’ve been able to size up my academic load for the semester, I’ve stepped up the effort to find a dissertation topic.

The way things look right now, the dissertation will be all that stands between finishing my doctorate as soon as possible and, well, not finishing. When I first applied for graduate school, I did so under the assumption that there was nothing wrong with coming into it “blind”, that it would be healthier and more interesting to see what might intrigue me rather than enter into it placing boundaries upon what further studies had to offer. In some ways I still believe that, yet at the same time my aimless academic posturing thus far has made me painfully aware of the poverty of my professional experience.

Apart from my other thoughts on the matter, I’ve conveniently divided my preliminary topic criteria into “what I will absolutely not do research on” and “things I’m interested in”. Where the former is concerned, I’ve decided to steer clear of topics with the “economic development” angle. Given my academic history, I’ve come to find the field a little tiresome and am leaning towards the view that the best development policies are nothing more than sound economic policies in and of themselves. Also, if I had a choice I’d prefer to groom myself into a microeconomist rather than one of the macro variety, though this may be out of my hands.

Then there are the things that (I think) I’m interested in, at least in broad strokes. If worse comes to worse, I have a feeling I’ll settle for doing research on remittances. It’s more or less a hot topic in the Philippines (isn’t the Philippine economy just being kept afloat by remittances?) and does fall within the rubric of financial economics. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to do some work on something that I might profit from in the future. Maybe.

However, I am more inclined to do research on something along the lines of behavioral economics and thus behavioral finance. To some extent, this is perhaps driven by reading a little too much of Malcom Gladwell, Nassim Taleb and James Surowiecki (among others who perhaps write only tangentially on the subject), but more because it comes across as a topic that will hold my interest given my knack for the curiosities of human behavior. I’ve already found at least one internet resource on the subject at the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management, which will hopefully help me get the ball rolling.

It won’t be another year until I have to formally put together a dissertation proposal, and I am still convinced that the right topic will find me rather than the other way around. But I do have every intention of helping the process along from here on out.



1. Dissertating 2 « BRAIN DRAIN - June 23, 2008

[…] To that end, these are the relevant goings on since the last time I wrote about my dissertation: […]

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