Advice for Undergraduate Students Doing Research
Advice from our summer research group
This week, I am sharing with you the stories from Haile College of Business and the students I work with. You hear from me often, but it is these students that have helped create the impactful work we do. I am proud of the work they do, the community they developed, and the growth they have experienced. So here is’s write-up.
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I am thrilled to share with you the progress and experiences of the Haile Econ Fellows as we embark on our summer research journey. Each member of our cohort has chosen a unique research question and has been dedicated to exploring that question since mid-May. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things about the research process that we would like to share with the community. Take a glimpse into our projects and valuable insights and advice for future fellows.
Fawwaaz (Rising Junior) - Effect of Obesity on Labor Market Outcomes
One Thing I Have Learned: How to read papers, economic model (instrumental variable, cause and correlation) and revision of Stata codes.
Advice for Next Year's Fellows: Be curious and always know your "why."
Dylan (Rising Sophomore) - Changing Value of a College Education
One Thing I Have Learned: The American Community Survey provides extremely in-depth and widespread information on the American populace, which I had previously had no idea existed before working with it.
Advice for Next Year's Fellows: Make sure you have a research question that you are in love with, because it can make all the difference in how you feel and go about your research.
James (Senior) - Mining-Related Jobs and Poverty in Appalachia
One Thing I Have Learned: The more specific you are when choosing a research topic, the easier the process will be.
Advice for Next Year's Fellows: Break down the month into 6-8 mini due dates to keep yourself accountable and on track.
Grace (Rising Senior) - Do the Rich Work or Play More?
One Thing I Have Learned: The research process is not "one size fits all for everyone.” For some, the most difficult part will be nailing down exactly what question they want to answer and determining if there is data available to answer this question. For others, it will be finding exhausting literature to build a comprehensive literature review that sets the stage for research. Some will find it difficult to select, clean, and build a model using a certain data set. Everyone will have setbacks, so that’s when it’s important to rely on your team and encourage an open dialogue.
Advice for Next Year's Fellows: Research what interests you. Just because you are doing economics research doesn’t mean you are limited to traditional economics topics: labor market, healthcare, etc. Expand your horizon and seek topics that you are passionate about to make the process as enjoyable as possible- you’d be surprised at how much economic theory is present in everyday life!
Becca (Senior) - US Household Types and Residential Choices
One Thing I Have Learned: Research questions and opportunities are wide and deep. Many things have already been researched. There is still an opportunity for you to move the needle.
Advice for Next Year's Fellows: At some point in your research journey, the process will be less than fruitful, you will be tired of your research question, and you’ll weigh the pros and cons of continuing the process. If producing a complete research paper and presenting at the KEAs is your unwavering goal starting out, I recommend creating a sense of accountability that goes beyond your research before you get started. I told Dr. A before the research began that no matter what happens or how I feel in the middle of the process, I want to produce a complete research paper and I want to present that paper at the KEAs. Before I started, I reflected on this goal and why it means so much to me regardless of the content of my paper. This experience is more than the research. I’m here for all the lessons to be learned in between the start and finish. When I’m tired of the research and I feel like quitting, I think about the goal I shared with Dr. A and the promise I made to myself. That goal and promise keep me from throwing in the towel more than anything else. So, before you start, find a way to hold yourself accountable that goes beyond the research. Determine your ‘why’ and give yourself an external and internal reason to not give up.
As we progress with our research, we are excited about the insights and knowledge we are gaining, and we look forward to presenting our findings at the KEAs in October.
Thank you for your support and stay tuned for further updates!
Becca Wilson and The Haile Econ Fellows of 2023-24