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‘The win made it clear that 4 years on the BSc programme had paid off’

‘The win made it clear that 4 years on the BSc programme had paid off’

ICEF graduate Anna Dumitskayaa was awarded the Gaidar Fund’s first prize in the competition for the best graduation qualification work in economics in 2020 with her paper Experimental Study of Positive and Negative Incentives on Embezzlement. The second and third prizes were awarded to students of RANEPA, MSU and HSE. In the interview Anna told us why she chose such an unusual topic, what the benefits of winning the competition are and how to conduct research online.

Whу did you decide to participate in the competition?

To be honest, winning the competition gave me self-confidence and the motivation to go on. I think the final goal of participating was to get a boost for development. I applied at the last minute and did not quite believe that my research would be valued so much. And when I got the letter about my first place, I did not believe it, called the The Gaidar Institute to check whether it was a mistake. But most importantly, the win made it clear that 4 years on the BSc programme had paid off.

What do you do now and where? Is your occupation connected with the education and knowledge that you received at ICEF?

To be honest, I am resting after the examination stress and trying to decide on my goals and professional interests. I work in a bank, but I also attend different courses, learn languages, travel the country, enjoy little things in life and I am looking for an interesting position outside the financial sector. Probably, my supervisor and I will complete our research in the near future and try to publish it in the field journal. I think that in a year or two I will continue my studies on an MSc programme abroad.

How could you evaluate the benefits of research skills that ICEF helps acquire?

It is more about the benefits of the academic environment at ICEF. First, there is a great choice of research supervisors and teachers that are willing to help and give advice. It is also the access to the unique academic experience and special communication, based on openness and mutual support. These factors combined are the core value in transition of interested students to a new scientific level.

The topic of my thesis was not directly connected with economics or econometrics, and my success was the result of ICEF discipline: resilience, time management, the ability to analyze and correctly apply the acquired skills. It was also useful to have access to different databases and subscriptions, for example, the access to Bloomberg database that the University grants and the common resources of the University of London and HSE.

How did you choose the research topic? With whom and how did you work, and how could it be applied?

From the very start I promised myself that I would write about something that interested me, as I did not want to waste a month or two of my time and not to be able to remember even the topic of my own thesis in a couple of years. This is why I chose behavioral economics. Corruption and embezzlement are more than prevalent in the modern world, and if you experiment a bit in this area, the topic gets more exciting: you write a code for the game, work with real people, collect data on the individual level, analyze and seek explanations of the players’ behaviour.

Anna Dumitskayaa
Anna Dumitskayaa

I worked on my thesis with Philipp Chapkovski, a Research Fellow of the International Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics, and I would like to thank him for his advice, support and words of motivation that he manages to find for students at the right time.

We were going to run several experimental models with different methodologies at the university, but due to the pandemic and self-isolation we had to do our work online. There were many problems that appeared because of that and we were not able to fulfill all our plans. The research is not exactly applied, I think that the Fund’s commission were interested in the chosen area and methodology – few people were engaged with online experiments due to many restrictions.

How do you plan to use the winner status in the future?

My thesis is very different from those that ICEF students usually write. I did not build theoretical models, did not seek data, did not run regressions, and not because I did not want to or did not know how to. I simply wanted to do something unique and my own, but I am very happy that the experts appreciated my work. In general, research skills will be very useful in analytical jobs, and this award will be a proof of ICEF’s academic level and will help me in my career and further education.