Over at Let’s Talk Development, I write about an experiment that showed an inspirational movie to Ugandan high school students and led many of them to pass their math exams:
Some years ago, I was a graduate student in economics, and one of my advisors taught me that well-done tables, all at the end, will allow a reader to capture the entire narrative of your paper quickly.
On the other hand, if I’m actually reading the paper from start to finish, tables at the end mean constant flipping back and forth.
On the other other hand, when I’m going back to papers later, it’s much easier to find the results I’m looking for if the tables and figures are together in the back.
When I review economics papers (with tables at the back), I end up keeping two PDF files of the paper open at once, one open at the text and the other open at the tables and figures.
As you can see, the vast majority of respondents prefer tables interspersed throughout the paper. Now, it’s clear from responses to the tweet that not all respondents were economists. I suspect that most respondents were people who read economics papers, so if your goal is communicating with readers, this may be a useful metric. If your goal is to impress academic economists on hiring committees, who may or may not be well represented on Twitter (I don’t have a strong prior), then it may not be so helpful.
Discussants to the tweet highlighted the points I make above, that reading on a device is easier with tables interspersed, and that tables at the back make for easier skimming.
But I’d note that if you’re going to do tables at the back, do them right: Provide clear titles and notes such that the tables really can stand alone. As one economist noted, “Tables at the end are okay with decent notes, horrible without.”
If you have a website, a few people suggested having two versions, which is an interesting idea (and more work than I will credibly do).
So, writers, pick your poison. You’re likely to annoy at least a few readers either way!
I wrote a couple of items this week around the blogosphere:
Looking for a shortcut to identifying great teachers? You may be out of luck. On new evidence about the relationship between teacher performance on tests and student learning.
“The right data at the right time”: How to effectively communicate research to policy makers. A policymaker from Jamaica’s Ministry of Education shares insights on how to communicate your research.
I’ve wondered about this, so this week I posed the question to the twitterverse. Lots of people, including several journal editors, weighed in. (When I say editors, I include co-editors and associate editors.)
Here’s my take away: It doesn’t matter very much — and maybe not at all, depending on the editor. It’s certainly second (or third or fourth) order relative to the actual quality and relevance of your paper. But there may sometimes be a return to having the most well-known or senior author submit, so if it’s low-cost, then go for it.
Here are the details: I posed the question, “Do you believe it matters WHICH AUTHOR submits your co-authored paper to the journal?”
170 Twitter users weighed in, as follows:
Of course, we don’t know who those 170 voters are or how much weight we should put on their opinions. (No offense to all you fine voters; I appreciate and value you!)
A few editors weighed in directly. One wrote: “Offering my *personal* perspective on this as editor. When better known submits it signals (to editor) their commitment to the paper.” She then clarified, “To be clear, not saying there’s a lot of info. I’m being honest that I do take epsilon more notice when a recognizable name submits.”
Another editor wrote (and a couple of others “liked”), “I’d say, don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s in line with the first editor, who added, “Those mental cycles better spent on fine tuning the abstract, title and intro.”
Another editor wrote, “I don’t pay attention to which author submits. But now that I have the floor: I do remember super late or non-responsive referees.”
An academic weighed in, “For me, ‘lead’ author submits. When I lead, I submit. If my student leads the work, they should submit (this is how they learn).” This jives with what one of the editors wrote: “Ultimately, I think authors should take turns and let resources influence who submits. And I practice that.”
So there you go! I’ve left attributions off this post, but you can read the original discussion here.
Rwanda is an exciting country with a tragic history. Before a recent work trip there, I asked the Twitterverse for book recommendations about the land of a thousand hills. Here is what I heard back, along with a few of my own. (Asterisks are on the ones I’ve actually read.)
On Rwanda today
- A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It*, by Stephen Kinzer (my review) – A short history of Rwanda, with a major focus on post-genocide. Kinzer is very sympathetic to the current government. It’s easy to read and a good introduction to modern Rwanda. The author – Kinzer – wrote a defense of Paul Kagame in the Boston Globe a few weeks ago.
- Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship, by Anjan Sundaram – Documents limitations to free speech in Rwanda today.
- Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation, by Tim Kelsall — Uses Rwanda as one (of three) case studies on modern African economic growth.
- Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World, by Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond – Super-sympathetic analysis of government support for business in Rwanda. I started it but didn’t finish it. (On Twitter, I received one recommendation for this but also one critique.)
- The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda, by Catherine A. Honeyman – “investigates the impact and reception of the Rwandan government’s multiyear entrepreneurship curriculum, first implemented in 2007 as required learning in all secondary schools” (from Amazon blurb)
- Rwandan Women Rising, by Swanee Hunt – “While news of the Rwandan genocide reached all corners of the globe, the nation’s recovery and the key role of women are less well known. In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt shares the stories of some seventy women—heralded activists and unsung heroes alike—who overcame unfathomable brutality, unrecoverable loss, and unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society. … Rwandan women did not seek the limelight or set out to build a movement; rather, they organized around common problems such as health care, housing, and poverty to serve the greater good.” (from the Duke University Press blurb)
- Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence, edited by Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf – “Remaking Rwanda is the first book to examine Rwanda’s remarkable post-genocide recovery in a comprehensive and critical fashion. By paying close attention to memory politics, human rights, justice, foreign relations, land use, education, and other key social institutions and practices, this volume raises serious concerns about the depth and durability of the country’s reconstruction.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, by Gérard Prunier – “follows the 1996–2002 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo through many bewildering twists and turns.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Women and Power in Postconflict Africa, by Aili Mari Tripp — “gender disruptions that occur during war” (some on Rwanda in here). Review by Alice Evans.
On the genocide
- We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda*, by Philip Gourevitch – I found this well-written and powerful. It was the first book I read about Rwanda, and it was perfect for a novice, giving an intro to the history and then the genocide itself.
- Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak*, by Jean Hatzfeld (my review) – Hatzfeld interviewed a series of genocidaires while they were in prison. Insightful work.
- The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda, by Scott Straus – Social science approach.
- Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda, by Jennie E. Burnet — “This clear and engaging ethnography of survival tackles three interrelated phenomena—memory, silence, and justice—and probes the contradictory roles women played in postgenocide reconciliation.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, by Roméo Dallaire — “For the first time in the United States comes the tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who ‘watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect.'” (from Amazon blurb)
- And a couple of novels:
- A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by Gil Courtemanche — “A moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Running the Rift, by Naomi Benaron — “Running the Rift follows the progress of Jean Patrick Nkuba from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life.” (from Amazon blurb)
Many thanks to Adolfo Avalos-Lozano, Sarah Baird, Danielle Beswick, Erika Edwards Decaster, Alice Evans, Andrew Gerard, Seva Gunitsky, Mike Holmes, Robert Marten, Jonathan Mazumdar, Gaby Saade, for Elisabeth Turner for suggestions.
[Updated 8/23/2017 at 2:30pm]
Over at Let’s Talk Development, I give my take on an interesting new study using school report cards.
Better information to improve service delivery: New evidence
Countries around the world have experimented with “school report cards”: providing parents with information about the quality of their school so that they can demand higher quality service for their children. The results have been mixed. Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja bring a significant contribution to that literature in last month’s American Economic Review with their article, “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.”
Here’s the abstract: “We study the impact of providing school report cards with test scores on subsequent test scores, prices, and enrollment in markets with multiple public and private providers. A randomly selected half of our sample villages (markets) received report cards. This increased test scores by 0.11 standard deviations, decreased private school fees by 17 percent, and increased primary enrollment by 4.5 percent. Heterogeneity in the treatment impact by initial school test scores is consistent with canonical models of asymmetric information. Information provision facilitates better comparisons across providers, and improves market efficiency and child welfare through higher test scores, higher enrollment, and lower fees.”
Read my take at the original post!