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A first glimpse into research

16 August 2021

Game theory models to explain acquisitions, measures of automation, and a greenness index. These are three areas that this year’s summer assistants at IFN have worked with and that have given them new insights on economic research to take with them to further studies during the fall.

Elvira Wiktorsson, Marcus Hagman and Simon Sällström, photographed by Therese Jonsson.

Elvira Wiktorsson is studying the master’s program in economics at Lund University and will begin her second year in the program this fall. Simon Sällström is studying at Oxford University, and Marcus Hagman will begin his doctorate in economics at Stockholm School of Economics this fall. All three of them applied for the job as a summer assistant to gain insight into what it is like to work as a researcher in economics. Simon Sällström describes it as having the ambition to obtain a doctorate and to have a research career:

– Therefore, IFN, as Sweden’s leading research institute in economic research, became a natural place to apply to learn more and develop my skills.

The tasks of the assistants have varied. Marcus Hagman says that the most fun he has had to do is to work with a project where the researchers build game-theoretic models to explain acquisitions. Elvira Wiktorsson has, among other things, worked to develop various measures of automation. Simon Sällström has worked with downloading, cleaning, and calculating a greenness index for sustainability signaling. All in all, by working with different projects and different researchers, they have gained an insight into what it is like to work as a researcher. In addition, they have gained other insights from their summer job:

– I have learned a lot about game theory, auction theory, and industrial economics, which will be directly useful in my future research. I have also learned how to proceed when writing theoretical essays, says Marcus Hagman.

For Elvira Wiktorsson, the job has also given a little more clarity in which areas of economics she finds most exciting. But some things have surprised them:

– I was surprised that the researchers were so keen that we summer assistants would learn new things and think that the projects we were involved in were exciting and fun, says Elvira Wiktorsson.

– I was pleasantly surprised that I, by showing interest and ability for the work, came to be treated more as a researcher than as an assistant, says Marcus Hagman.

– Research is extremely time-consuming, and there are many setbacks. I do not really think I understood how long it actually takes an article to go from the idea stage to final publication in a magazine, says Simon Sällström.

All three assistants would recommend other students who are curious about what research may entail, or who themselves want to research in the future, to apply for a summer assistant job at IFN:

– Absolutely! It is a very varied job which makes it stimulating. You also get to practice your practical skills, such as coding or producing nice graphs. Regardless of the future, it is something useful, says Simon Sällström.