Members of the Research Committee carry out background work on the various projects during the year, with the results typically presented during the EEA annual Congress. They also organize ad-hoc special sessions and workshops connected to their current activities. A list of recent sessions and workshop with link to relevant material is provided on the “past projects” page.
For the years 2017-2020, the Research Committee has chosen two priorities for its work:
- to increase applications by economists to ERC grants and support applicants in that process. Full info on this below under 'Participation of Economists to the ERC Grant Applications' section.
- follow-up on the work done under COEURE to make “Europe as a data powerhouse for research” a reality. Full info on this below under 'Europe as a Data Powerhouse' section.
Participation of Economists to the ERC Grant Applications
The European Research Council (ERC) was created in 2007 to provide funding for bottom-up, breakthrough research in Europe. Since then, more than 265 economists have already benefitted from the generous and flexible research funding of the ERC.
One challenge, however, is the competitiveness of the process and the fact that funds awarded to a discipline depend on the applications received in that discipline. Because economics tends to have a shared understanding of what constitutes excellent research, researchers in economics have tended, more than other disciplines, to hold back on applying until they felt sufficiently sure that they had a chance. This has created a vicious circle where low numbers of applications have led to lower numbers of grants being awarded. In 2009, 4% of ERC applications came from SH1 (to which economics belong) versus only 2.7% in 2016.
To encourage applications to the ERC, alongside the EEA Seed Grants, the Research Committee has run information and mentoring sessions on applying for ERC since 2017. The 2020 session can be viewed here.
Europe as a Data Powerhouse
The past 20–30 years have witnessed a steady rise in empirical research in economics. In fact, a majority of articles published by leading journals these days are empirical, in stark contrast with the situation 40 or 50 years ago (Hamermesh, 2013). This change in the distribution of methodologies used in economic research was made possible by improved computing power but, more importantly, thanks to an increase in the quantity, quality and variety of data used in economics. With its collection of high quality national statistical systems and its multi-country setting, Europe has the potential to become a data research powerhouse (some European countries have already taken the lead in providing high quality data for researchers). To achieve this potential, we need to:
- Facilitate data access for researchers, including build the necessary human capital to support researchers accessing these data,
- Improve data design and data harmonization
- Support economic data infrastructure in Europe
At the 2017 Annual Congress in Lisbon, the Research Committee invited leading researchers to share their experiences and challenges working with administrative data from Europe.
Moreover, since 2018, the Research Committee has organised highly successful data workshops at the EEA annual congresses. Topics have included running do files from the command line, reading and writing various data formats, handling data quality (missing values, text data), transforming data using collapse, reshape and merge, and easy-to-read, modular coding with expressive variable names, commands and for loops.
In light of these workshops, the EEA has become a supporting member of The Carpentries, a non-profit organisation providing researchers high-quality, domain-specific training covering the full lifecycle of data-driven research.