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【Working at University】Siyuan Chai(SPSE)「Supporting the professor in quantitative research」

Introduction of Student Participation and Job

Research Assistant(RA)in Financial Data Collection and Analysis Projects
Siyuan Chai(Peter Chai)
Fourth-year student at School of Political Sciences and Economics

There are some students studying and working on campus, who play an important role in the university. In the actual “Student Participation / Student Job“, we will introduce what kind of students are involved in what kind of schedule and their profile. This time, Siyuan Chai(Peter Chai), who is enrolled in the School of Political Science and Economics and is the RA (Research Assistant) of  an Assistant Professor, Giang Duc Nguyen . Introducing Peter’s daily life, which supports his research while collecting and processing corporate data.

Q. When did you first get involved in the Research Assistant job?

Since the start of the summer break of 2020, I have been working as a Research Assistant (RA) for Prof. Giang Duc Nguyen, an Assistant Professor  at the School of Political Science and Economics who specializes in corporate finance and venture capital research.

Q. What got you started?

I came to know Prof. Giang from taking his course Entrepreneurial Finance in the 2020 Spring Semester and I achieved the top score in his final take-home assignment. His rigorous teaching style was impressive to me. After the submission of my resume and writing samples, along with online interviews with him, I became recruited as his part-time Research Assistant employed in the School of Political Science and Economics.

Q. What kind of activities are you involved in?

I have been supporting Prof. Giang in his quantitative analysis projects regarding corporate governance and venture capital investment and I spent the time during my summer break of 2020 inside Waseda University’s libraries and computer labs. I have developed practical skills in collecting and processing Japanese corporate data through utilizing two digital financial databases from NEEDS (The Nikkei Economic Electronic Databank System): NEEDS-Cges (Corporate Governance Evaluation System) and Nikkei NEEDS-FinancialQUEST 2.0. The former is used to assess Japanese companies’ financial performances and the latter one is applied to track Japanese stock market information.

With the professor’s guidelines and a Ph.D. sempai’s instructions in regular video conferences, I have learned to download and arrange large datasets using these two commercial platforms by selecting years and variables of relevance. I have also become more familiar with how to effectively manage panel data by appending and codifying them in the programming software of Stata and outline their summary statistics. The descriptive statistics specific to Japan’s financial market which I transformed from the two systems could complement the professor’s research in some ways.

Left :Downloading data from NEEDS-Cges in School of Commerce library
Right:Arranging data with NEEDS-FinancialQUEST 2.0 in Building No. 22’s computer lab

Q.Tell us how you felt since you’ve joined the Research Assistant projects.

I have come to realize the power and potential of data analytics and the extensive efforts required to put into data collection and data cleaning as starting points for economic research. From the professor’s responsible attitude and passion toward his research, I have also understood the significance of paying attention to details and being focused and cautious enough in constructing data and formatting statistical outputs such as tables and appendices when preparing manuscripts.

The professor’s teaching is inspiring to those who aim to continue studying finance in academia as well as who plan to work in the finance industry. This experience of working with him has allowed me to apply knowledge in finance textbooks to actual research settings and has helped me to get in touch with the basics and necessities of academic writing in the field of finance in order for them to be published on top financial journals. This experience has taught me that there is no end to acquiring up-to-date skills and information through using the latest technologies in investigating various social science topics.

Q.How do you manage to balance multiple tasks, like your studies, the Research Assistant projects, and club activities?

My studies and research tasks are connected so there is not necessarily a tradeoff. A general rule for my work-life balance is to schedule my studies and research in advance, so that there would not be schedule conflicts. As Research Assistants, apart from conducting the data collections and analyses, we need to plan meetings with the professors to report our progress and receive constant feedback. It might also be necessary for us to prioritize the professors’ research if they are in the process of preparing paper publications. In addition, one essential piece of advice to new Research Assistants is to secure enough sleep and time to relax and counter the work stress. For me, I believe that working as a Research Assistant is a good preliminary exercise before I enter my graduate- and even Ph.D.-level studies and pursue my future academic career.

Q.Tell us about your future aspirations, and what challenges you’d like to take on.

I wish to further improve my time management and multitasking capability and to have a greater sense of direction and a clearer mind in research planning and implementation. I also would like to challenge myself with more courses in econometrics and polimetrics to solidify my statistical foundation and sharpen my quantitative approaches to take on more advanced data analytics and programming tasks in the future. I am aware that I will need more time to become a more professional and specialized researcher, but I am ready to invest more efforts in my intellectual growth.

Moreover, although I have not made a final decision on which country and university to pursue my graduate studies, if I choose to stay at Waseda University, I am willing to make efforts to contribute, as much as I can, to the research achievements of the School of Political Science and Economics, through cooperation with my professors and peers.

Q.Do you get scholarships from universities or external organizations?

I have obtained a Waseda Partial Tuition Waiver Scholarship upon my acceptance to Waseda University and a JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) Honors Scholarship during my first semester in 2017. I have applied for the Azusa Ono Memorial Scholarship last week in this 2020 Fall Semester, but I am still waiting for the results’ announcement in early December.

Weekly schedule during class

Peter is also working as a TA(Teaching Assistant)for the same professor for his “Basic Seminar 07”.


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