‘Over the summer, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to undertake a research project under Dr Yunxiao Chen from the LSE’s Department of Statistics. In the 5 weeks I spent on my project, I was able to grow tremendously, and the skills I have gained through this experience will undoubtedly stay with me even beyond my undergraduate studies at LSE.
My research project focused on investigating grade inflation at LSE, or in other words, whether or not LSE has been issuing more first class or upper-second class degrees than it ought to, after controlling for students’ characteristics. Although previous studies had examined grade inflation across UK universities as a whole, none had been conducted specifically for LSE. It was therefore interesting to examine an issue that has a tangible impact on LSE students, since grade inflation could affect how future employers perceive the value of LSE degrees and thus also impact students’ employability.
Taking part in this project has greatly developed both my research skills and subject knowledge. I learnt how to apply the statistical modelling skills I had gained from university to analyse a real-world problem, present data effectively, and communicate my results clearly and concisely. Furthermore, as I was required to implement certain statistical modelling techniques outside of the undergraduate syllabus, I had to do additional reading independently, and enrolled myself in online courses on statistics. This helped to enrich my understanding of and interest in the subject.
The journey was not without challenges, however. There were occasions where I spent days figuring out how to run certain statistical models in R or trying to specify my code differently. I was also tasked with identifying errors in some equations used in a similar study. I had to spend many hours on the internet and in the LSE Library trying to diagnose my programming issues and improve my knowledge of statistical theory.
Fortunately, I was not left entirely to my own devices. Dr Chen, my project advisor, was always there to nudge me in the right direction when I was stuck, and Ms Sarah Hagart from the LSE Planning Division was also happy to answer all of my questions about the data she had provided. The project would not have been possible without their support and encouragement.
Spending part of my summer on a research project in the Department of Statistics has left an indelible mark on my undergraduate experience at LSE. I am glad to have been given the opportunity to pursue a research topic that has important implications for the school’s future academic direction and policy. I have also come to realise that doing research in Statistics is something that I deeply enjoy and would like to incorporate into my future career plans. To claim that this experience has been one of the highlights of my time in LSE is indeed no exaggeration.
Moving ahead, I hope that more of these opportunities will be made available to undergraduate students, and I strongly encourage all my fellow students to consider undertaking similar research internships! At a university renowned for its excellence in research, doing a research project under some of the brightest minds in the field is truly a valuable experience.’