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BONUS BALTICAPP - Race Against Eutrophication Blog

I started my work as a PhD student 1.5.2015. I am an environment and resource economist and I received my M.Sc. from the University of Helsinki December of year 2014. Within this project I’m modelling agri-environmental management related to various scenarios associated with the future development of the Baltic Sea. In this blog I will share my experiences and thoughts as a PhD student and beginner researcher.
14.04.2017 11:50

The lost art of writing (and speaking)

Matti Sihvonen

Hi all!


Things have been moving quite nicely in recent times. First of all, we got the first article ready and it’s now submitted to a journal. I must say that it was rather challenge for me. The actual writing process proved to be very difficult in the end. I had some real difficulties to put a discussion, conclusions and abstract sections together. This may be due to the fact that we, students in economics, can graduate with surprisingly little amount of reading and writing, since most of our focus is on the mathematical side of things. Most of my studies were about formulating optimization problems and solving them mathematically. Typically the exams required no excessive amount of reading, whereas the problem sets and mathematical examples are important to learn. As a result, one can graduate with flying colors without being very impressive writer (or reader).


Anyway, I participated a scientific writing course, which turned out to be very helpful at this point. Only now have I really started to understand how important it is to actually learn to clearly express your ideas. I think that in mathematically oriented fields it’s rather common to ignore the importance of writing skills. One learns the true value of such skills just when one really needs to publish something. In addition to scientific writing course, I also attended a statistic modelling with R course. This course has also been a very informative one and I’ve learned a lot of important things. I think that statistical modelling is a next step from the basics of statistics. It has also been a very nice course for me because it takes a more practical approach as it focuses on examining the models through examples that are solved with R. In addition, the course is an online course and all the lectures are just in Internet. In addition to theses courses, we have the PhD level course “Economic growth and environmental resources”, which is basically a macroeconomics course. We have to hand in the exercise sets by the end of this month. There require a lot of attention and it’s hard work because I’m not familiar with macroeconomic models. Nevertheless, I’m familiar with the dynamic optimization, which appears to be a primary tool in solving the macroeconomic problems. Therefore the course is very useful for me, because I have to keep practicing all kinds of dynamic analyses. It’s also good to get basic understanding of the most important macro models although I wouldn’t ever do macroeconomic analysis within my work. 


We also had a project meeting Stockholm. I gave a presentation of our paper there. I thought it went better than my previous presentations since my English speaking has improved quite a bit since I started and also because the work is now ready. Despite of those improvements, I was still very nervous and I talked very quickly so that no one could interrupt me. As a result, my presentation was too difficult to follow at that point of a day; I realized that I used only abbreviation of the soil phosphorus and I didn’t explain it at any point during the presentation. Thus, I may have lost the audience right in the beginning. Thus, the take-home-message from Stockholm is that I must learn to give clearer and simpler presentations in the future. This will be particularly important, because the paper of ours got accepted to EAERE (European annual environmental and resource economics) 2017 conference. This was very good news and it made me very happy. The conference will be held in Greece (I have never been so far a way from home before). Thus, it will be exciting both professionally and also as an adventure. I look forward to it. At the mean time, I must learn the art of giving presentations. In addition, I must make really rabid progress with the second paper, if I want to graduate in time. Thus, the spring and the summer will be busy, but also exciting time.


See you next time!


Best regards: Matti Sihvonen 

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