Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Graduate researchers speed up book completion

When Galen Smith took a work-study job at Penrose Library’s research center, he thought it would pay some bills and help him learn to research better. It did that and considerably more.

For starters, it helped him earn a research assistant position with George DeMartino, associate professor and chair of the Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration department at DU’s Korbel School of International Studies.

Smith and fellow research assistant Emma Ekdahl, both sophomore international studies majors at Korbel, got the change to work for DeMartino on his book The Economist’s Oath, which is expected to be published in November by Oxford University Press.

DeMartino credits them both with helping finish the book an entire year ahead of schedule.

“It was remarkable how quickly and comprehensively they found sources for me,” DeMartino says.

The book builds the case that economists — like other professionals — should adhere to a code of professional standards. DeMartino says he came to rely on Smith and Ekdahl to research numerous fields, such as medicine and law, because the students were finding quality sources faster than he could.

“I came to have more confidence in their searches than in my own,” DeMartino says.

Smith says his training came from the research center. He’s worked there for two years. He started out working at the research desk, answering the phones or simple questions. He’s since been promoted to the research center, where he conducts one-on-one consultations with students and faculty.

“Not only do the students attend a series of training sessions and ongoing staff meetings, they complete lengthy assignments designed to teach them about the many resources of the library and the search strategies they will need to do reference work,” says Erin Meyer, research center coordinator and outreach librarian. “All together, this provides something of a crash course in being a reference librarian and prepares students not only to help others with research, but to excel in their own graduate studies.”

Galen says the training is invaluable because it allows him to focus on research instead of finding documents.

“It’s cool because the ability to find things leads to finding more and more things,” he says. “I owe a lot of that to the research center process.”

Ekdahl played a key role too, especially because her native language is Swedish.

“I was able to do research on Swedish economist unions and the ethical codes that they have developed, information which only was available in Swedish and which George later used for the last chapter of the book,” she says.

In the end, the research process was valuable to both DeMartino and his graduate assistants.

“The great thing working for George is indeed the diversity of fields he asks of us to explore,” Ekdahl says. “I have gained an equal amount of knowledge through my work as a research assistant for George as I have through my course work.”


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