Notes on Rules of Thumb

Notes on Rules of Thumb

May 10, 2020

This is a reading note. I came across this article when I was looking up economics articles and books. I liked it so much that I immediately read it twice at that moment, and now I want to share it with my friends again.

The principles from My Rules of Thumb By N. Gregory Mankiw

  1. Learn from the Right Mentors

  2. Work With Good Co-Workers

    Doing research takes various skills: identifying questions, developing models, providing theorems, finding data, expositing results. Because few economists excel at all these tasks, collaborating authors can together do things that each author could not do as easily on his own.

  3. Have Broad Interests

  4. Allocate Time and Crew

  5. Write Well

    Whenever a person sits down to write something about economics, he is engaged in a form of joint production. Each article has two key attributes: style and substance. For producers of articles, style and substance are substitutes. The more time is spent avoiding the passive voice and replacing a “which” with a"that,” the less time is left to spend thinking new thoughts about the economy. But if you want to succeed as a producer, you have to think about your consumers. For consumers of articles, style and substance are complements. When I see an article by So low or Lucas, I want to read it, not just because I will have fun doing so. An article that offers both style and substance is far more appealing than an article that offers one without the other. So if you want to sell your substance, you have to worry about your style. In other words, if you want to be read widely, you have to write well.

    Writing is a craft, like carpentry. Some people are naturally better at it than others. But anyone can get better at it by devoting enough time and effort.

  6. Have Fun

    A book I read long ago revealed to me the secret to a happy life: find out what you like to do, and then find someone who will pay you to do it.

    I now keep the secret to a happy life in mind when selecting topics for research. Editors and conference organizers often invite me to write papers on specific topics of their choosing. I turn down most of these offers. (This essay is one of the few exceptions.)

If you are interested in learning Economics, here is a short post on for you: Advice for Aspiring Economists.

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