Advice for students seeking a research supervisor

I have the following advice for students at the University of Sydney who are considering asking me to supervise a research project undertaken as part of their degree.

Most research students in the School of Economics choose research topics that involve the statistical analysis of economic data. This is, by definition, econometrics. I am a Professor of Econometrics. This does not mean that I am a suitable advisor for any project that involves the statistical analysis of economic data. My research mostly concerns the study of existing statistical techniques, and the development of new statistical techniques, with a view to their application in economics and related fields. If your intended research is focused on the application of statistical methods, rather than the study or development of statistical methods, then it is unlikely that I am a suitable advisor for you. You should instead consult an academic in the School of Economics who engages in empirical research in the area you wish to investigate.

There is one stream of research I am involved with which is primarily empirical. It concerns anomalies in market index option prices. If this is a topic which you wish to explore empirically, then I may be able to advise you. You should be aware that this is a technically demanding research area. I may also be able to advise on topics that concern the empirical study of time series properties of financial return series.

Here is some more specific advice for students in particular degree programmes.

If you are pursuing Honours in Econometrics, then you should talk to me about your research plans. Even if I am not the right advisor for you, I should be able to help you find the right advisor. Maybe I can help you choose a topic.

If you are pursuing Honours in Economics or a Master of Economic Analysis, then you may wish to consider me as an advisor if your intended research is in an area which I am well equipped to advise upon, as discussed above.

If you are intending to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics, then you should only consider me as an advisor if your intended field of research is econometric theory. Such research involves proving mathematical statements about statistical procedures. You will need a strong background in mathematics. If you haven’t taken a course in measure theory, then you will need to do so. To get an idea of what I consider to be strong mathematical preparation for Ph.D. research in my field, see my advice on undergraduate course selection here.

If you are an Honours or Masters student who plans to apply for admission to doctoral programmes in Australia or elsewhere in the world, then feel free to contact me for advice on this matter, regardless of whether our research interests align.