Books on writing

Academic writing is often a real challenge for both undergraduate and graduate students. It is an absolutely necessary skill.

Here are some useful books,

Strunk & White, The Elements of Style is probably the best known.

Joseph M. Williams’ Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace is also very good.

A personal favorite is Thomas & Turner, Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose.

Academic Productivity in Denmark

Peter Turchin mentions that at Aarhus University in Denmark, productivity is not  is not particularly high since “many begin leaving work starting at 3 pm”.

Fortunately, in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities there  is a category, Per Capita Performance (PCP) that measures per capita academic performance of an institution. What do we find here?

Aarhus University scores 28.5, while Peter Turchin’s home institution, University of Connecticut at Storrs, scores 13.3.

Now this is not completely fair. While the the Shanghai ranking is pretty good since it is based on outputs, not inputs, it is not at all concerned with learning outcomes for students. It may be the case the University of Connecticut at Storrs adds more value to their students than Aarhus University does. Also, medical schools produce lots of papers, so any university with a large medical school will tend to do well in the rankings.

University of Copenhagen has a PCP score of 35, while University of Wisconsin scores 25.1. Why this comparison? Wisconsin is roughly the same size as Denmark and it is full of people of Scandinavian descent. However, in the overall Shanghai ranking, University of Wisconsin ranks 19th in the world , University of Copenhagen ranks 42nd and  Aarhus ranks 81st. That is probably about right. The University of Connecticut – Storrs is ranked in the 201-300 group.

Let me add that Peter Turchin clearly outclasses his home university. They are lucky to have him.  Of course, there are compensations for working in Storrs. I gave a talk there once, and the area is beautiful.

Best deal for a Master’s degree in Economics?

This has got to be one of the best deals around. I got this mail from the highly ranked Toulouse School of Economics,

Tuition fees for [the English language] Master’s degree amount around 300 Euros for one academic year. Social security (compulsory health insurance) for students amounts 200 Euros per academic year. For living expenses in Toulouse, you should count at least 500 Euros per month (survival) and more probably 700 to 800 Euros all included.

Best regards
Aude Schloesing

Toulouse School of Economics
Université Toulouse 1
Manufacture des Tabacs
31042 Toulouse Cedex (France)
tel: + 33 (0)5 61 12 87 65
fax: + 33 (0)5 61 12 86 37