How and why i’m writing Last Month in Game Theory

Now that i’m getting more involved with being a scholar, i’ve decided i should try keeping up to date with my field and the people working in it. Hence the idea of writing a daily column reviewing recent papers in the field.

This achieves multiple goals:

  • it develops a daily habit (yay for daily habits!);
  • it’s great writing practice;
  • it’s great practice in quickly figuring out the interest of an article and locating its key points;
  • it lets me see what people on my field are working on right now;
  • and it expands my academic horizons by putting me in contact with topics i might not notice otherwise. You know, establish what they call a dialogue with my discipline and other disciplines.

Let’s talk about the sources i’m choosing for this experiment. First, the actual journals in game theory and related topics:

Next, some journals less directly related to game theory but still of interest to the area, whether due to close thematic relationships or because they’ve seen the publication of some crucial article:

The journals above amount to about 40% of all the abstracts i’m checking out. The remaining 60% comes in the form of arXiv preprints (i run a search in the categories of “General Economics” (econ.GN), “Theoretical Economics” (econ.TH), and “Computer Science and Game Theory” (cs.GT)) and working papers from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

So what do i do with this volume of work?

(The plan is as follows:) At the start of the month, i gather my sources: every issue of the journals above published the month before, and every arXiv preprint and NBER paper dated the month before. Thus, yesterday i gathered these numbers and counted nearly 500 papers for May 2019. Since i had 28 days to go in the month, i decided 20 papers per day was a good pace of work, leaving me a bit of room by the end of the month to do a review.

As for how i choose the 20 papers i examine every day: i roll the dice. That’s it. I generate 20 integers on RANDOM.ORG and figure out which journals they belong to. For example, numbers 1 through 26 this month are volume 115 of Games and Economic Behavior, 27 through 33 are volume 99 of Mathematical Social Sciences, and 72 through 279 are arXiv preprints (‘cause of course you have two hundred arXiv preprints in the month of May).

Then i pick the papers, i start a new blog post, i link the pages, and i write helpful notes on what i noticed about the papers and what i’m curious about. I don’t expect to read every single paper, or even any paper at all. The goal is to not miss anything in my direct areas of interest and to keep sight of everything in the periphery. Then, if something is truly exciting, i can go ahead and read it.


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