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Thread: J-PAL RA letters

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    econ scholar dogbones's Avatar
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    J-PAL RA letters

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    Iíve been wondering, if someone happens to get an RA position at J-PAL, who is the best person possible that will be able to write a good letter? Iím thinking that because the research is conducted away from Cambridge that despite working with J-PAL I wouldnít be able to get a letter from any top faculty. Is this about right?

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    It depends. You are right to be concerned. But it depends on the extent of the interaction between the RA and the faculty member.

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    That could be a real bummer if I go with the hope of a great letter and then get a mediocre one... maybe it's in general safer to go with smaller teams rather than a huge organization like J-PAL where the letter writers are known before getting started and the quality can be anticipated?

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    Im confused. Is this a hypothetical scenario or did you get accepted to work with j-pal (long distance)?
    if it is a hypothetical scenario, there is no answer to your question. This all depends on factors like who your long distance supervisor is and what is their character like (e.g a warm person who is available for weekly skype sessions); and if they require you to visit cambridge once in a while for in-person meetings.

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    econ scholar dogbones's Avatar
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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    This is definitely hypothetical, at least for now... I've never thought of this possibility until recently and thought I might ask. Thank you for your input!

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    I would personally not apply to any RA postings unless they make it clear which faculty you would be working with. For some positions, groups of faculty hire multiple RA's, which is fine in my opinion (at least you know what the lower/upper bounds look like). The only exception to this would be non-university RA programs that consistently place into PhD programs (e.g. federal reserve positions)

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    Hi mathenomics, your advice is something I'm thinking to apply when the time comes to apply... could we also contact the people mentioned or implied before/after applying and see if they can give us more insight as to how the program will be structured, who we will be reporting to on a regular basis (maybe need to be careful with this one), and what we can hope to expect from the program? If this is not a taboo, then I think this will open more possibilities (including J-PAL) and provide more confidence during the hiring process...

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    Initial screens for J-PAL and sister organizations are done by current RAs. DO NOT CONTACT PIs until you are well along in the process, if then.

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    Quote Originally Posted by startz View Post
    Initial screens for J-PAL and sister organizations are done by current RAs. DO NOT CONTACT PIs until you are well along in the process, if then.
    Hi startz, is this similar to applications for graduate programs where the PIs don't want to deal with the high volume and all of the politics involved with the huge number of interested prospects? I think maybe a good time to reach out to PIs would be once I've been accepted and I have to compare all of the offers? But then the asynchronous timing among the various programs may pose a challenge... Wouldn't you think that the top faculty can still write letters based on objective data even if there was no regular contact, which would make top organizations still as valuable as they would otherwise seem?

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    Re: J-PAL RA letters

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    Wouldn't you think that the top faculty can still write letters based on objective data even if there was no regular contact, which would make top organizations still as valuable as they would otherwise seem?
    I have no idea what this sentence means.

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