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Re: st: Upcoming NetCourses

From   Mark Nichols <>
Subject   Re: st: Upcoming NetCourses
Date   Wed, 8 Sep 2010 20:09:03 -0500

Stas doesn't say if he actually took the class himself but he raises
an interesting point. The ugly truth is that most classes do a poor
job of preparing a graduate student. But he seems to think that a
less-than-popular web-based class taught by non-researchers will help.
That's a tall order. There has been some talk of standarization; who
cares. The editors don't care, your bosses don't care, I don't care,
and you won't care either after several months. I don't even remember
where mine went. Go ask the most productive faculty members about
theirs; they didn't get there by fiddling with their ugly old do
files. But if a student is dead set on majoring in stata so they can
write do files that will run in 10 minutes intead of 30, then this
might a way to go. I don't need to point out that taking excessive
number of classes will delay your graduation, and failing to graduate
on time is a reliable indicator of a middling career.



On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:40 AM, Stas Kolenikov <> wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 7:24 PM, Mark Nichols <> wrote:
>> You don't need them if you are capable of taking econometircs at San
>> Diego. I have examined the material and in my opinion not really worth
>> your time or money. That was about 3 years ago. If you can't or don't
>> like to figure out things on your own, then the netcourses might be
>> just the thing for you.
> When I taught in an economics summer school, I told my students that
> the most useful class they would have in that summer is the research
> seminar. You can read books on micro and macro, and there are long
> sequences of either subject in grad schools, but there is no telling
> if you will become a micro or a macro economist. But one thing is
> certain: you will be reading other people's articles, and maintaining
> a database of references; and you will be writing your own articles.
> So you need to learn how to find research on a given topic, and how to
> use LaTeX (may be coupled with something like And,
> since the summer project involved data analysis and empirical work,
> there was one other certain thing: you need to learn Stata. And that's
> what the research seminar was about.
> I kinda doubt that Granger or White are going to teach anybody how to
> run -forvalues- loops. Rather, they would find the finer aspects of
> asymptotic theory to be more fascinating material that every economist
> must know. The NetCourses are complementary to this sort of training.
> They address what's implicitly assumed already perfected by the
> standard econometrics class (especially in the top school): that your
> data are perfectly well organized, and you just need to run one
> regression to get your results. Preparing stable data and running a
> stable analysis requires an extensive set of tricks that are next to
> impossible to figure out on one's own. You need to look over
> somebody's shoulder to get certain "aha" moments. Of course studying
> the manuals, reading all the tips and Mata matters and Speaking Stata
> articles in Stata Journal will get you there, and probably further
> along, than NetCourses... but whether it will be cheaper and less time
> consuming is a tough call :))
> There's another aspect that's somewhat harder to explain. Stata coding
> has certain conventions that most "mainstream" programmers (those who
> have taken NetCourses and/or watch statalist and/or appear at user
> group meetings) follow. Stata code of people outside this mainstream
> is almost inevitably odd-looking, which means, more likely to be
> error-prone, and more difficult to document and maintain. A simple
> reason for this is efficiency of the code: Stata Corp. writes very
> efficient code (subject to the version control of course: some v6 ado
> files may still be found among the official ado files, and they do
> look odd, too, given what's available in the current version), and
> NetCourses will teach you how to approach their efficiency bounds :)).
> --
> Stas Kolenikov, also found at
> Small print: I use this email account for mailing lists only.
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