This is really my pleasure, participating in this interview and I come from kind of middle sized city in China, and then I went to Beijing for my college and graduation. So at that time I was in the engineering department as many IS faculty's background and that time my dream was trying to do a kind of consulting particularly IT consulting so I got a chance to visit MIT Sloan School of Management in my actually Ph.D. program in China. At that time, I was in engineering, a PhD student in engineering. So in my fifth year, I went to MIT Sloan as an exchange student and I got a chance to work with Professor Stuart Madnick at MIT Sloan school. So it was all ready and that I tried to get some experience about business, particularly about consulting so that while I graduate from my PhD program in China I can be good IT consultant, but since I did research with Professor Madnick, I realized the business research is really interesting to me, particularly IT related business research and also professor Madnick demonstrates high passion and the motivation into himself doing research in IT related business issues, so that kind of gave me high motivation and dream. So during the one year with it, I decided okay, maybe I should change my career path so I decided to apply and go to the PhD program with the MIT Sloan school. So during that year, I applied and luckily at last, I got admission from Sloan school so after the one year with it, I was officially admitted and entered the PhD program at MIT. So that's kind of the how I get into the PhD program in IT, IS in particular.
My major, my earlier research interest was focus on software engineering that's came from my earlier background. Then when I took courses at Sloan and gradually over the time, I became more interested in economic information system, particularly I'm trying to look at the social and economic impact of IT related innovations, I can say. So my research projects, for example, you know during, in the later stage of my PhD program and in the early stage of my faculty career, I've worked on quite a few projects related to online promotion, in the context of the Groupon promotions. I got interested because when I was thinking about my research project in 2010, Groupon was a very popular phenomenon. Daily deals for public, It was a very successful company at that time, so I was very keen to look for some research questions in this context and I found, for example, I found that there is, my key insight is Groupon as a promotion has very strong interaction with social media phenomenon. By social media, I mean online review or Facebook interaction, particularly I've found, for example, restaurants when they do Groupon promotion, by doing Groupon promotions, restaurants can somehow change their online reputation in terms of, for example, Yelp review and I tried to establish the causal impact between Groupon promotion and the restaurant's online review. This is one piece, second, I found the opposite causal direction, which I found the restaurants' Groupon review can actually cause restaurant's Groupon voucher, I mean not only for sales, but also for popularity on Facebook, for example, particularly I found that when the restaurant has a higher online review on Yelp website, actually Groupon users are more likely to endorse the restaurant's coupon voucher through Facebook. So I found this is very, so basically online reputation and the social media are the buzzwords by which I mean bi directional causal relations as I've found. So that's my I would say, research project I have finished two years ago and well recently, i'm looking at that, let's say medical crowdfunding. It is the newest context to say, for example, how to frame a medical crowdfunding project can motivate people to donate more money to the patients, and this is one of the projects and also another project, I look at the sharing economy, particularly, for example, peer to peer lending platform, or let's see, back sharing platform are the phenomena which are related to my research interests.
Yes, I think roughly just mentioned that a bit so because my subject is of IS, I found that people tend to look at, look for interesting questions related to a new phenomena. So as I mentioned for the Groupon study around 2010, the daily deal or Groupon promotion and was very interested in the emerging phenomenon. So at that time, I tried to look at the new phenomena. Nowadays sharing economy, let's say peer to peer lending, crowdfunding or let's say AirBnB, the home sharing platform are all interesting and emerging phenomenon. So, one of the experiences I found would be probably very helpful, is it we tried to look for recent question in a new phenomena. That's one of the experience effort and in terms of how to assess the potential of the project. And one of the key criteria or hurdle that we have to conquer in terms of the application is to identify the causal impact. So for me, while I try to think about a project nowadays, the first question I have to ask me is, can I clearly identify and establish the causal impact. So what I think come back across the solution in terms of the identification strategy out there, I can say ok, this product probably is worth well to pursue. If I have no idea or I feel that the identification is not that clear, then I would be headed to initiate the project by identification strategy and either we can use quasi-experimental methods that say we use the difference, the potential for matching or regressions design. Or nowadays, we can conduct a field experiment. So those criteria, I think, are used to assess the potential of the project.
First off, as a junior faculty I'm not sure I have enough experience in terms of commenting on reviewing papers. My true simple reaction is for what it's a theoretical contribution. All contribution in general is either a theoretical contribution or practical contribution. So probably in the sub field of economics, I ask people may focus even more practical contribution, with the contribution to the society or to the economy in general. So this is one and the second is the identification as I mentioned, so it's very important. So I see many paper, struggling by because of the identification strategy was not that strong on it, more robustness checks. So definitely I mean a good or great or clear contribution to theory or practice, plus a clear identification definitely would improve the chance of getting the paper accepted. Again I have not too many experience, but that's my two simple experiences, I can comment
I'm still in the learning process about these. One of the way is, in fact, approach many companies in terms of getting the data as you can imagine for any imperial researchers. So the effective way is, I'd like to say first off for, we need to demonstrate the value to the company. If we want to get data and get the company collaborate with us, that's very important in terms of value for company. They're more interested in practical application or insights for strategies that we can bring to the company. Fortunately, as I mentioned for kind of economics research, we focus a lot on the implication and the practical insights for the company. So most of our research or my research particularly, I think practically implication straightforward. Oh, so that's, that won't be a big issue. Another thing is sometimes building a good relationship with practitioners in the industry is also were very important. By relationships, I mean, can be either personal relationship or kind of organizational formal relationship that's also very important. For example, if your school has certain relation with certain company with a better leverage such as formalized relationship. That's also a good way for us to get cooperation from that company.
So my department is Information System and Operations Management. Our input information system side is a little bit small and rather new. We just our first, we just have only a few PhD students in the department yet, and our first and earliest PhD student is on the market this year, which means we just produce our PhD students on the market, and we have quite a few in their earlier stage of the PhD program so we are very interested in admitting PhD students, to join our department. In terms of criteria or qualification, we would like to see first off, is the high motivation, it is very important, which means that the students have to have high motivation in terms of doing research and in terms of working in academia as a career, that's very important. Second is the personal skills or technical skills. Personal skill, means of personality, and the students need to be an open and have good personality and also have a solid training in the background. Let's see, we look at the GRE score, GMAT, and we also look at the GPAs from the student's earlier academic background. In terms of the funding, formerly our school funded PhD students for four years, but most likely we can somehow extend the funding to the fifth year. And of course we cover, the scholarship covered the tuition and stipend.
For dissertation topic. I think this question kind of similar to what I just talk about how I look for, I'm looking for research topic. So again, I'd look for some interesting and the emerging phenomenon. I also try to make sure that the topic can produce an important implications in terms of theory and practice, and also make sure the identification is very clear and and rigorous. So that's, I think, for students looking for a dissertation topic. And actually our current, at our department's first PhD students is on the market, and actually he's very successful. He just got fly out from a very prestigious US school, so our suggestion is that the students need to be, first need to have a very solid CV. So our students, for this particular student, he has already strong IS experience. So that's very good and our department tried to, we're trying to organize a seminar, you know, to help the students prepare for the job talk. So make sure the students came and can be well prepared in terms of giving a talk in the top US School and also have to demonstrate very good personality and ability in terms of the social networking, that's also very important.
So as I said nowadays, IS department is very motivated in terms of expanding the program not only for faculty, but also for PhD students, so we strongly encourage students to apply to our PhD program. Our faculty are very productive in the department. So we publish a lot in the top IS journals, including let's see, management science, MS and we have a lot of, the school gives us a lot of the resources in terms of the, let's say funding for the students and the seminar budget for the department and also recent budget for the faculty and the students, so that's also very important. In terms of the curriculum, so our school by itself provides very good methodological courses, and also we encourage students to take courses in a top economic or business school around or in Paris area. As you know in Paris, there are many very research active universities, institutions and the business schools. So we actually, we provide lots of opportunities for students to take courses or fund collaboration from that school. And also at HEC, one of the very top business schools in France, so the school has lots of the resources including alumni resources. Our alumni foundation has lots of financial resources, for example, and also for company connections. The school and the school has regular meeting with quite a a few big companies headquartered in France. So if, for example, faculty or students have interest in a certain company, the school is very happy and willing to help us to make the connection. That's also another unique opportunity, I think, at HEC.