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Dissertating 9 August 24, 2008

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking.

These are the latest developments in my ongoing research, following the consultation with my advisor earlier in the week:

Things are looking up in terms of the direction I’ve been leaning towards. As I’ve said in the past, I’m keen to write about remittances, and in the course of gathering material on the subject there are three specific things that struck me as worth looking into. Without going into specifics these are: whether remittances to the Philippines flow with, against, or irrespective of the domestic business cycle; developing a macroeconomic model with which to evaluate the impact of these flows; and finally ascertaining how exchange rate fluctuations affect remittance flows (and thereby isolating income and substitution effects). The three are related, of course, and I felt that framing the matter in this way adds some coherence to the research gaps I found in the existing literature. So far, I’ve done some preliminary work on the first part, have been given good advice with which to approach the second part and have yet to further develop that last part, though it’s the one I’m particularly interested in. I’ve been cautioned that each on their own can be tricky — as if I didn’t already know — and thus the plan is to take things one step at a time, continue with what I’ve already begun and see if that doesn’t develop into something full-blown in its own right.

Realistically, it’s too early in the research game to have a sense of how things will turn out (i.e., what sort of output will be sufficient for the dissertation), but my professor and I have hammered out a timetable that will have me prepare the working proposal draft before the end of Spring, present the proposal in the Fall, and defend the dissertation in the Spring thereafter. This amounts to a good two years of research work (including time already spent) on the dissertation stage. Admittedly, there is a part of me that’s a little disappointed that it can’t be sooner, but a two year research project is just about right for someone in my situation. Besides, in these here parts, the “proposal” is already mostly the finished deal, so we’re really talking about a good year to hammer out the dissertation draft and another to get the comments in, shine and polish.

That’s where things stand now. When I get back to the Manila later in the week, my immediate concern will be to figure out the appropriate econometric technique to isolate the cyclical component of my data (there are several — I’ll probably write about this in the next installment) while looking into some nuances surrounding the reporting of official remittance statistics. If this gets tiresome (oi!), I’ve been advised that it might be worth looking into the literature on international risk sharing; but above all else it’s probably best not to let my eye off the proverbial ball. I’ve also been putting off updating the reference list for quite some time now, so I’d better get around to doing that, too.


From this point forward, “Dissertating” moves to a fortnightly schedule. This’ll give me time to catch up on the work I’ve had to put off while winding down my NY commitments (which is a nice way of saying “moving out”), and is probably more realistic in terms of making the sort of progress worth writing about. So it’s “every-two-weeks-or-whenever-I-accomplish-anything-significant”, whichever comes first. At the very least, it will help ensure that this space isn’t overrun by aimless missives about my research — my readership is thin enough as it is!



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