Research in Sciences: Pieces of advice from an outstanding researcher

m guillenMontserrat Guillén was born in Barcelona in 1964. She received a Master of Science in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics in 1987 and a PhD in Economics from University of Barcelona in 1992. She got an MSc in Data Analysis from the University of Essex (United Kingdom). She was Visiting Research faculty at the University of Texas at Austin (USA) in 1994. Montserrat also holds a Visiting Professor position at the University of Paris II, where she teaches Insurance Econometrics. Since April, 2001 she is chair professor of the Department of Econometrics at the University of Barcelona. Montserrat was awarded the ICREA Academia distinction.

Her research focuses on actuarial statistics and quantitative risk management. She has published many scientific articles, contributions to book chapters and books on insurance and actuarial science. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Risk and Insurance – the official journal of the American Risk and Insurance Association, a senior editor of Astin Bulletin – the official journal of the International Actuarial Association, and chief editor of SORT – Statistics and Operations Research Transactions.  Montserrat was awarded by the Casualty Actuarial Society and received the International Insurance Prize. She is a highly cited academic in the field of risk management and insurance. She was elected President of the European Group of Risk and Insurance Economists, the Geneva Association, in 2011. She serves in many scientific boards, international programs and steering committees and conducts R&D joint programs with many companies.

Gaudeamus. How do you select your research projects, or do they select you? 

Monserrat Guillen. I usually apply for research project funding to academic institutions. The topics are usually basic research with a very long term and ambitious perspective, which means that the application is not going to be immediate. When private funding comes into place, it is usually because a very specific research with direct transfer to the industry is expected

G. You usually collaborate with international scholars, it should not be easy to coordinate and organize research, is there any aspect worth mentioning that could help us researchers regarding international projects? 

MG. There must be a leader. The leader must be open-minded, active, motivating and has to set up short term and long-term goals for the team. Everyone involved must know his/her role in the project and why his/her contribution is important to the whole group.

G. If you had to prioritize, what do you put in the first place: teaching or researching? 

MG. Both. Even if a lecturer is very good, good teaching is even better with good research. I find that usually we forget that research advances have to be introduced in the syllabuses and this is essential for high quality education. Research also benefits from teaching, because communicating research results needs many of the skill that is developed when teaching.

G. What is the research activity you like most?

MG. I really enjoy the instants when a new result is obtained. There are some seconds of doubt, and then an explosion of joy when the result is confirmed. Sometime this happens when working on my own and sometimes this is shared with colleagues. If I obtain a results and no colleague is next to me, I would immediately tell it with my colleagues.

G. Once you have a draft research document, what key issues should be taken into account until it is published?

MG. Audience, structured, correctness in all sense

G. Internet and open access is changing the scholarly publishing industry, is it also changing research activity?

MG. It does because searching information is much easier than it used to be. Reading the essential papers is important when there are so many out there.

G. How do you choose the journals where to publish?  Or if you prefer, what are you looking for in a journal?

MG. The topic and the impact factor. I look for a sign of quality

G. Finally, what advice would you give to novel researchers (for example, about collaboration, time dedicated to research, make an impact, etc.).

MG. I would recommend spending a lot of time on how to explain the research result. Some very good contributions remain get no notoriety due to a poor presentation. Correctness, clarity and motivation are crucial for the success of a paper.


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