Justin Wolfers writes in the Freakonomics blog that economists should limit their objections during academic seminars to a list of comments to make discussions of research papers more efficient. Here are some of my favorite:
- Adam Smith said that.
- Unfortunately, there is an identification problem which is not dealt with adequately in the paper.
- The residuals are clearly non-normal, and the specification of the model is incorrect.
- Have you tried two-stage least squares?
- The conclusions change if you introduce uncertainty.
- I proved the main results in a paper published years ago.
- The market cannot, of course, deal satisfactorily with that externality.
- But what if transaction costs are not zero?
- What empirical finding would contradict your theory?
- What happens when you extend the analysis to the later (or earlier) period?
- That is alright in theory, but it doesn’t work out in practice.
- The problem cannot be dealt with by partial equilibrium methods; it requires a general equilibrium formulation.
- Is there a weak instruments problem?
- The conclusion rests on the assumption of fixed tastes, but (of course) tastes have surely changed.
- The trouble with the present situation is that the property rights have not been fully assigned.
- How did you handle endogeneity problem?
This list is likely only entertaining for academic economics. Wolfers wonders if the economics fields ability to characterize objections to research paper with such a list may suggest “…a methodological narrowness to neoclassical economics. But equally, it is the clarity of the framework that gives economic analysis its power.”