in Economics

Krugman’s Rules for Research

Paul Krugman, Princeton economist and New York Times columnist, has some interesting small pieces on his site, like How I Work which includes his Rules for Research…

  1. Listen to the Gentiles, Pay attention to what intelligent people are saying, even if they do not have your customs or speak your analytical language.
  2. Question the question, In general, if people in a field have bogged down on questions that seem very hard, it is a good idea to ask whether they are really working on the right questions. Often some other question is not only easier to answer but actually more interesting!
  3. Dare to be silly, What I believe is that the age of creative silliness is not past. Virtue, as an economic theorist, does not consist in squeezing the last drop of blood out of assumptions that have come to seem natural because they have been used in a few hundred earlier papers. If a new set of assumptions seems to yield a valuable set of insights, then never mind if they seem strange.
  4. Simplify, simplify, The strategy is: always try to express your ideas in the simplest possible model. The act of stripping down to this minimalist model will force you to get to the essence of what you are trying to say (and will also make obvious to you those situations in which you actually have nothing to say).