Nick Klagge's Reviews > Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You're Doing It

Tricks of the Trade by Howard S. Becker
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My boss (a PhD economist) lent this to me some time ago, and as I've recently been feeling inclined to go back to school for an econ PhD, I picked it up a couple of months ago (I didn't finish it until now because I accidentally left it in my sister's car in DC). The author is a sociologist, so many of the topics and approaches that he discussed were new to me. And while I didn't read anything that seems like it would be directly useful in economics research, I have a feeling that several of Becker's ideas, or at least perspectives, will stay with me. He focuses a lot on the idea of exploring and pushing your sample space, and in particular looking proactively for cases that would challenge your hypothesis. I also enjoyed the discussion of "analytic induction," specifically the question of to what extent it's appropriate for a researcher to redefine the concepts being studied as he or she learns more about them. In many ways this book reminded me of Deborah Stone's (excellent) "Policy Paradox"--taking a subject that people often inaccurately portray as a supremely rational process and talking seriously about the roles that imagery and narrative play in its conduct.
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Reading Progress

May 19, 2011 – Started Reading
May 19, 2011 – Shelved
July 23, 2011 – Finished Reading
November 19, 2011 – Shelved as: economics

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