Malaysian Citation Centre (MCC)

I just came to know of the existence of Malaysian Citation Centre (MCC). Its website reports that:

“Malaysian Citation Centre (MCC) serves as the database of academic papers published in Malaysian scholarly journals. MCC collects all the published articles, make them accessible through the Malaysian Journal Management System MyJurnal, together with their citations online and in real-time through MyCite, a citation system”

“MCC would be the one-stop centre that would help internationalize Malaysian journal publications, making their contents accessible globally and indexed locally, as well as proposing their indexation by international indexing agencies such as Scopus and the ISI (Institute of Scientific Information) databases”

Continue reading

‘Noise’ Researchers

In 1986, Fischer Black delivered his presidential address to the American Finance Association, with an elegant title “Noise” (click here to see the published version in Journal of Finance). This seminal paper by Black (1986) formally identifies noise traders as traders who “trade on noise as if it were information”. His address is path breaking because classical financial theories always assume that investors only react to new fundamental information. My 2010 paper in Macroeconomic Dynamics conjectures that the weak private property rights protection in low-income economies deters the participation of informed arbitrageurs, leaving these emerging markets dominated by sentiment-prone noise traders.

In this post, I want to share a unique environment in the local academia. Noise researchers here are not referring to researchers who specialize in the area of noise. Instead, the term refers to those researchers (just like investors) who write (trade) based on noise, rather than genuine interest/curiosity/passion (fundamental information).

What are the noises that I refer to? Examples from my personal and colleagues’ observations are:

  1. When a researcher always write solo papers, he will hear noises saying that this is a selfish act and he is not contributing to mentoring;
  2. When a researcher always write joint papers, the noises accuse him of leveraging on others;
  3. When a researcher is the third and last author, he is accused of playing a minor role and even to the extent of being labeled as free-rider;
  4. When a researcher is first author, the noises will still be around because he is not the corresponding author;
  5. When a researcher works exclusively on a niche area, he is accused of not practicing the golden rule of diversification (too specialize!);
  6. When a researcher publishes on different areas, the noise-makers then raise the issue of him not having an area of expertise;

The list will go on, depending on the weak spots that the noise-makers are able to identify in one’s CV. I sympathize with those early career researchers (ECR) who sometimes were affected by these noises. They were perplexed. In certain cases, they gave up writing.

In the case of noise trading, the recommended policies are generally directed at noise traders. However, in the present context, noise researchers are innocent. Those noise-makers are adding unnecessary pollutants to the already not so conducive local research environment, as compared to universities in advanced nations.

I would urge those noise-makers: If you cannot contribute significantly to academia, let the informed researchers do it! Without your noises, noise researchers will naturally die off. Without your noises, research will be driven by genuine interest/curiosity/passion. Without your noises, Malaysia will be able to retain and attract more talented researchers.

Annual Review of Financial Economics

This is a journal that I highly recommend to those interested in financial economics (click here). The editors are Andrew Lo and Robert Merton, both from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Extracted from the journal website: “The Annual Review of Financial Economics provides comprehensive, forward-looking and critical reviews of the most significant theoretical, empirical, and experimental developments in financial economics, including the fields of capital markets, corporate finance, financial institutions, market microstructure, and behavioral and experimental finance”.

The journal requires subscription, but I came across one paper with free access (click here for download).

Continue reading

UMS for RU

When I took my Competence Level Assessment V (PTK5) at the end of 2010, one of the assignments was on “Fulfilling Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Aspiration of Attaining Research University (RU) Status”. Since this is a small-scale project paper and not those research articles that I normally wrote, the content was purely descriptive. For instance, the assignment first evaluated the criteria outlined in the Malaysian Research Assessment Instrument (MyRA), and then discussed the overall performance of UMS in this self-assessment exercise. As usual, SWOT analysis was performed which generated a long list of recommended strategies.

What went missing in the above project paper was a benchmarking exercise in which the research performance of UMS is compared against the leaders. It is indisputable that UM, USM, UKM and UPM are the top 4 universities in Malaysia. To conduct a comparative analysis, I follow the recent trend to define research quality in terms of publications in journals indexed by Thomson ISI/WoS.

The analysis proceeds as follows:

  • Access Web of Knowledge via institutional login (click here);
  • Search “Univ Malaysia Sabah” in Address;
  • Set Timespan = All Years;
  • Set Databases = SCI-Expanded, SSCI (since most universities are interested in those journals with impact factors).

The process is repeated for “Univ Malaya”, “Univ Sains Malaysia”, “Univ Kebangsaan Malaysia”, “Univ Putra Malaysia”. The results are summarized in the attached table and figure (for raw data, click here). It is worth highlighting that those numbers represent the lower bound as there could be missing data. For instance, some researchers might report their affiliations as “Malaysian University of Sabah” (instead of “Universiti Malaysia Sabah) or “National University of Malaysia” (in place of “Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia”).

The statistics clearly show that the research output for the top four universities has improved significantly in the last 3 years of the sample period. Notably, UM and USM were able to break the ‘resistance level’ of 1000 in 2009-2011. Even though no formal analysis is conducted, I have no doubt that the financial incentive introduced by these RUs is a key determinant (click here, here, here). Drawing from the literature, Heywood et al. (2011) exploit a unique setting at The Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) where the piece rate for peer-reviewed articles increases five-fold. They report a significant 50% increase in research productivity associated with the piece rate increase. However, the scheme appears to raise the productivity of those who were already research active but does not motivate the research inactive to publish.

Coming back to UMS, the university’s total publications over the past 14 years are less than the annual productivity of these RUs. If UMS were to introduce the same reward structure, it would require a huge financial allocation. For instance, a simple calculation for UM shows that the university spent about RM3 million for publication incentive (assuming average piece rate of RM3000 and annual productivity of 1000 articles). Given the financial constraint, what UMS needs to do is to identify the threshold point above which the scheme will provide the desired incentive effect (for example of threshold analysis, see Hansen, 2000). I am sure that this threshold level won’t be RM100 per article (coming soon)!

Continue reading

Taking “Research News” Private

This site was the official blog of Kian-Ping Lim when he served as the Deputy Dean (Research & Innovation) at the Labuan School of International Business and Finance (LSIBF), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). During his term, the blog reported research activities and publications by staffs and graduate students at his school. Apart from that,  research news and useful resources around the world such as conferences, workshops, dataset, writing tips, were disseminated to the LSIBF community via this blog. Occasionally, KP also covered issues related to the Malaysian higher eduction, which he categorized under ‘KP Opinion’ (i.e., the views expressed were his personal opinion).

When his 2-year term finished at the end of 2011, KP continues to maintain the blog as research is always his passion. However, the readers are no longer limited to the LSIBF community. To better reflect the scope of his postings, the blog is renamed from “Research News: From and For LSIBF” to “Research News: From KP”.

Academic Finance as a Career: by Don Chance

In my earlier post on “What’s the Fuss about KPI?” (click here), I speculated that those who made a big fuss about KPI is because they have been misinformed about academic life.

For those who are considering a career in academia, I strongly recommend this essay “Academic Finance as a Career: The Good, the Bad, and the Not-so-Pretty” written by Don Chance. Even though the discussion is on finance, the information provided is relevant to other disciplines as well.

If the original link does not work, then click here.

In Loving Memory of Prof. Melvin J. Hinich: II

Prof. Melvin Hinich passed away seven months ago on Sept 7, 2010 (click here for my first post). I lost a great mentor whom I can always refer to whenever I have any questions on mathematics/statistics/econometrics. I have kept most of our email correspondences, all with his classic Hinich sign-off: “Be well, Mel”.

In memoriam of Melvin Hinich, Ordershook et al. (2011) and Munger et al. (2011) summarized Mel’s path-breaking contributions to academia over the past four decades (to download the papers, click here and here). Though Mel achieved international reputation in four academic disciplines (economics, engineering, political science and statistics), he will be most remembered for his seminal contributions to the use of spatial anaysis in analyzing politics and public policy. Because of that, as highlighted by the above two papers, spatial voting choice theory occupies a central role in political science just as how fundamental consumer choice is to economics.

It is indeed a great honour for me to work with such a reputable scholar, who has made a huge impact in academia. In my eight years of collaboration with Mel, I can bear testimony to the descriptions in Ordershook et al. (2011: 1) and Munger et al. (2011:160):

“… with an endless energy for work and a childlike curiosity about the science of almost everything. Hinich’s scholarship blended technical virtuosity, theoretical depth, interdisciplinary sweep, and a keen eye for the main chance in terms of substantive importance. But Mel was not simply a bright but easily distracted scholar with many interests. Rather, he was a scientist, a scholar who found most problems interesting, and he was capable of making connections across fields because so many problems share a deep logical and mathematical structure.”

In time series analysis, Mel advocated the importance of identifying nonlinear serial dependencies. According to Hinich and Patterson (1985), many early investigators implicitly assume the observed time series is generated from a Gaussian process and test for white noise using the correlation structure, hence ignoring possible nonlinear relationships between consecutive price changes. From a statistical perspective, the distinction between white noise and pure white noise is nontrivial when nonlinear dependence is present. With that conviction, he developed nonlinearity tests using the bispectrum (Hinich, 1982), and later extended to the next polyspectral measure, the trispectrum (Dalle Molle and Hinich, 1995). To complement the frequency-domain, Mel has contributed the time-domain counterparts in bicorrelation test (Hinich, 1996), cross-bicorrelation test (Brooks and Hinich, 1999), and tricorrelation test (Wild et al., 2010). With the development of powerful statistical tools, the literature witnessed a surge of empirical evidence supporting the presence of nonlinearity in stock market data, with Hinich and Patterson (1985) the first one (see the extensive literature survey by Lim and Brooks, 2011).

The existence of nonlinearity calls into question the adequacy of linear models, and hence invites the development of non-linear time series models which are expected to provide superior forecasts than their linear counterparts or the naïve random walk. However, the evidence to date on the out-of-sample forecasting performance of non-linear time series models is still unconvincing. The title of Ramsey (1996) rightly pointed out the implication: “If nonlinear models cannot forecast, what use are they?” As typical of Mel’s character, he did not see the development of statistical tests as an endpoint, but how useful they are in explaining real world phenomena. Mel argued that the inability of researchers to make meaningful point forecasts of stock returns despite strong evidence of nonlinearity is caused by the episodic transient nature of such dependencies. His conjecture received wide empirical support across different financial markets. In fact, there is now a growing literature on time-varying predictability, with its theoretical foundation in the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis (see again the extensive literature survey by Lim and Brooks, 2011).

At the age of 71 years old, Mel still had an endless energy for research. As documented by Munger et al. (2011: 164): “On the day before he died, Mel talked with Bob Molyneux about their next visit and called up Munger to talk about a new chapter for the revised edition of Analytical Politics”. In fact, a few weeks before he died, he worked with his collaborators in Italy, Australia and Chile. His passion for research will always be my learning model.

Young Researcher Award: How Young is Young?

It is indeed encouraging to learn that numerous research awards have been created by Malaysian universities to reward their staffs for research excellence (click here for a sample). One of those categories is the Young Researcher Award, which serves to encourage and reward excellence in research by young researchers or early career researchers. As an academic with immense curiosity, I was wondering how academia defines ‘youth’.

To satisfy my curiosity, I just do a quick Google search. The relevant results are summarized as follows:

  1. Monash University, the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research by Early Career Researchers: An ECR is someone who has had a PhD awarded (or equivalent research qualification/experience) within ten years of the date of application (click here).
  2. National University of Singapore, Young Researcher Award: A young researcher is someone who is below 40 years of age at the time of application (click here).
  3. Scopus Young Researcher Award: The award is open to those 40 years of age or less at the time of application (click here).
  4. Prosper.Net-Scopus Young Scientist Award: Candidates should be less than 40 years old at the time of application (click here).

There are also a number of distinguished awards in academia that are open to those 40 years of age or less, though they are not explicitly labeled as Young Researcher Award:

  1. Moran Medal: The Moran Medal in Statistical Sciences is awarded every two years by the Australian Academy of Science to recognize outstanding research by Australian scientists under 40 years of age in the fields of applied probability, biometrics, mathematical genetics, psychometrics, and statistics (click here).
  2. Fields Medal: Its purpose is to give recognition to young mathematicians under the age of 40 (click here).
  3. John Bates Clark Medal: It is awarded to American economist under the age of 40 who has made significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge (click here).
  4. Fischer Black Prize: Eligible scholars must either be below age 40, or under age 45 but not have been awarded a PhD (or equivalent) by age 35 (click here).