Applied Financial Research F395

Professor John M. Griffin (

Course Overview

The main objective of this course is to provide a venue that facilitates the beginning of a successful dissertation. Other byproducts will be to foster a research culture among students and to increase presentation, refereeing, and seminar skills which will all be part of a faculty research position.


Course is only open to students who have passed their finance comprehensive exam and are not currently on the job market.


Students are required to present for a total of two hours during the semester (with Q&A these times will run longer). This could consist of two full one-hour sessions or 1 one-hour session and 2 half-hour mini-presentations. These presentations will be followed by discussion (and students should expect discussion during their presentation).

  • Full Presentations: For a full presentation, students must have a completed paper. An empirical paper should most likely include an abstract, introduction, data description, results, tables with proper journal format, conclusion, and references. This paper should read well and not contain typos or other grammatical errors. Sloppy papers will be grounds for poor paper grades, irrespective of content. Students are required to present at least one full presentation during the semester (second-year summer paper does not count). For fortunate students whose first paper is making progress towards a dissertation, the second paper presentation should show substantial progress from the first paper and will likely consist of a revision so extensive that the paper is new (like they received a revise and resubmit on the first-round at a journal). The revised paper should address all comments from the first presentation. A written outline of the changes to address the comments should be provided along with the paper, similar to an author’s response to a revision request at a journal. The one-hour presentation slot will be followed with a 20-minute period reserved for Q&A. Two students will be assigned to write a referee report on each paper.
  • Idea Presentations: Short 20-30 minute idea presentations should be well thought out and should include a brief write-up. The write-up must include an abstract, introduction, and possible findings. This period will be followed by about 10-15 minutes of class feedback.

All presentations should be in powerpoint or equivalent (latex slides), well thought out, clear, and organized. Presentations are a crucial aspect of future job placements and hence students will be graded on the clarity of their presentations.

Students can invite one or two professors to attend class if they wish.

What constitutes a presentable paper?

All papers should be solo work. Co-authored work is important but should be presented at other venues like brownbags. The purpose of the course is to help make progress on dissertation research, not joint faculty research.

Summer papers: Third-year students may present their second-year summer paper as part of a 30-minute presentation. Third-year students may only present their second-year papers once unless faculty thinks that  a revised version is suitable for a job market paper or a paper geared towards an ‘A’ journal. Note that unless this last criteria is met, a second-year summer paper does NOT count as a completed paper presentation.

Fourth-year students may not re-present a version of their second-year paper unless they plan on making that paper their main dissertation essay.

Note: A successful in class full paper presentation and approval of professor (that paper is advanced enough to warrant a faculty presentation) is required before presenting in front of the full faculty. Students should have a completed paper for the faculty presentation and view the presentation standards as even greater than those currently required for the full paper presentation.

Grade determination

Written and verbal comments on others’ work (50%), well organized presentations including at least one completed paper  (50%).

Class Participation

Each student will be required to provide written feedback, prior to class on the presenting member’s paper or idea. Feedback should be at least one-half page in length. Feedback should consist of at least two strengths and at least two weaknesses of the paper.

Two referees will be assigned to each paper. Your referee report should be of high quality and similar to one you would do for a top journal. If you write a referee report you do not have to turn in the feedback paper. Each student will be a referee for at least two papers during the semester.

For feedback on an idea there is only need for a well specified yea or nae assessment.

Comments should be honest but helpful. Sometimes that may mean telling a classmate why you do not believe the idea is interesting or why the approach is flawed. Often times the comments should include constructive feedback on how to improve the motivation, research methods, or implementation. I expect you to come to class on time, fully prepared, and ready to open the discussion. Note that not all comments or questions in class contribute positively to your class contribution grade.

Course Policies

Late Assignments: Late assignments will not be accepted for credit, except for the most serious reasons as validated by the appropriately qualified person.

Readings: Students must provide hard copies of their paper five days before the assigned class. For a Wednesday presentation, this means by noon on the preceding Friday. Emails with the paper can also be sent out but you are responsible for giving a hard copy of the paper to all class members and professors coming to class.

Readings of others papers and written comments must be done in advance of the class.