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"My research experience was the main thing I talked about in my job interview”

James Cockett, who graduates with a BSc in Economics, spent the summer before his final year as one of the University’s Junior Research Associates (JRA), testing a key economic theory about financial markets by reviewing football match predictions. 

The JRA scheme pairs students with academics to work on an original research project over two to three months. 

For his project, James found that the amateur football pundits in the League of Ireland are fundamentally irrational in their match predictions, ignoring some crucial bits of information and over-relying on other information. 

It tests the efficient market hypothesis, which states it is impossible to ‘beat the market’ because stock market efficiency ensures share prices always incorporate and reflect all relevant information. 

His project won third prize at an exhibition at the University of more than 40 JRA projects carried out last summer. 

James, from Eastbourne, said: “The JRA scheme was perfect for me because I really wanted to use skills learnt during my degree before I finished university. 

“Even if you don’t end up moving into a research field, you will end up with a piece of work that is really unique.” 

James was paired with Professor of Econometrics Barry Reilly, some of whose recent research is focused on the economics of sport.  Professor Reilly commented that James was a pleasure to work with and noted: “He impressed me with the thoroughness and care he devoted to the collection and analysis of his data. In addition, he always delivered on time, and with minimum fuss, accurately completed work.” 

James added: “I knew I was interested in economics and I enjoy sport, it was great for me to be able to work on something that combined the two.” 

The resulting project linked into James’ final-year dissertation, for which he delved further into the resemblance between gambling and financial markets. 

Alongside this, he wasted no time putting his analytical skills to the test, working part-time for the University’s sports service (Sussexsport) in his final year providing statistics and insights on student participation in Active US. 

His exposure to research as an undergraduate has helped him land a job as a Research Economist at the Institute for Employment Studies, where he starts next week. 

He added: “My JRA project and my research experience was the main thing I talked about in my job interview.”

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By: James Hakner
Last updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2017

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