International cooperation helps young scientists; the outstanding evaluation for the project was just the icing on the cake

11 May 2022 Jana Sosnová

Receiving an outstanding evaluation from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (GA CR) is a great success for scientists. Each year, only around 15% of approved projects across all disciplines achieve such an accolade. But a team led by researchers from the Faculty of Economics and Administration has succeeded in attaining this difficult goal. How did they do it? And how does participation in the project benefit young researchers in particular?

In addition to Masaryk University, researchers from Charles University, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (WU), and the Hungarian Central Bank were involved in a project entitled Dynamic Averaging of Macroeconomic Model Forecasts. This international collaboration, a feature that is key to the success of most projects, was forged back in 2015 at the conference Young Economists’ Meeting. “The keynote speaker was Professor Jesús Crespo Cuaresma from WU Vienna, whose work I’ve built on in my own research. I consulted him on my forthcoming paper, which he was so taken by that he gave me a lot of valuable advice on improving it,” says Jan Čapek, an economist and member of the research team.

Researchers focused in their project on the effects of fiscal policy and exchange rates, including cryptocurrency exchange rates. Jan Čapek believes that being published in prestigious journals helped secure the project’s outstanding evaluation. Another factor may have been that researchers even managed to publish one more article than was envisaged in their project application.

One of the challenges was collaborating across an international team, and to aid him in this endeavour Jan Čapek headed to Vienna for an internship. “Researchers have a natural tendency to collaborate more with colleagues they know personally,” he explains. The project was also accompanied by personnel changes that team members had to cope with. “Two junior researchers left for the private sector during the project, and some of the students involved were completing their studies, so we had to respond and find replacements,” Čapek adds. Despite this, the project was still completed and received its outstanding rating – an appraisal not especially common in the social sciences.

An outstanding rating from the GA CR means not only that the results of a project have significantly advanced knowledge in a particular field. In addition, involvement in high-quality research is particularly beneficial for junior researchers, who gain valuable experience. “International cooperation is especially important for the young researchers who were part of the project. The evaluation is the icing on the cake, a recognition of the quality of the work of the whole team,” Čapek believes.

And what would he recommend to future GA CR grant applicants? First and foremost, choose a first-class principal investigator. “If you write a project proposal and as principal investigator you promise top-level results, your publication history must back up your claim,” explains Čapek. He also recommends avoiding straying too far from the line of research. “Branching out makes it harder to fulfil the research plan and to manage the team itself. And quite possibly, it makes matters more difficult for the project evaluators themselves,” he adds.

Jan Čapek is a member of a research team working on quantitative methods and macroeconomic modelling at the Department of Economics at ESF MU. His current research focuses on the predictive ability of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models, and on estimating the impact of fiscal policy in European countries.

Foto: Jan Brychta

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