Where to Find Cool Academic Finance Research

////Where to Find Cool Academic Finance Research

Where to Find Cool Academic Finance Research

By | 2018-03-12T08:43:29+00:00 April 1st, 2015|Introduction Course|9 Comments

Over the past 10+ years I’ve cultivated a laundry list of websites associated with financial economics. My primary focus has been identifying sources for new ideas that are creative, unique, and have application in the real-world. Interestingly enough, none of the sources I’ve identified involve practitioner research portals–they are all academic by nature.

Of course, academic research isn’t a panacea of perfection, and we never take academic research at face value (we replicate and conduct robustness on all work we find inspiring), but we do respect the work. We know first hand how difficult it is to publish an academic paper and the intense peer-review process through which articles are “screened.” The standard of care for academic research is simply higher than for materials spewed from banks and/or wannabe academic researchers. In short, there is a reason you need to spend 4-6+ years in a PhD program learning the research craft–it ain’t easy to do it right.

Anyway, that’s my pitch for digging into the primary source literature. But where do we find the research that can potentially help us become better investors and advisors?

Below I break out my Top 5 sources for each category:

  • Academic Finance Research Depository
  • Academic Finance Journals
  • Academic Finance Professor Websites

Academic Finance Research Depository

  • SSRN (by far the best)
    • Tough to beat and the amount of research produced and published here is breathtaking.
  • NBER
    • Tends to be academic-only and top-tier quality. SSRN can get more riff-raff publishing, since it is more open architecture.
  • Google Scholar (Abnormal Returns Search)
    • You can choose other search terms, but the search engine is great for digging up materials on specific research interests
  • CXO Advisory
    • A paid site that summarizes interesting research articles (similar to what we do 1-2x a week)
  • IDEAS website: JEL G14 (Information and Market Efficiency)
    • Similar to SSRN, but you can sometimes get more focused research articles of interest.

Academic Finance Journals

Academic Finance Professor Websites

  • Guofu Zhou–Washington University (St. Louis)
    • This guy is an animal. Not sure if he sleeps.
  • Lauren Cohen and Chris Malloy
    • The dynamic duo at HBS. They churn out interesting articles on a consistent basis.
  • Alex Edmans
    • Another freak of nature that doesn’t sleep. Researches all day; every day.
  • Andrea Frazzini and Lasse Pedersen
    • The “AQR academics” who conduct great research with high practical value. Love it.
  • Sam Hartzmark
    • A recent newcomer on the academic scene with incredibly clever research that I find compelling. He was recently hired by Booth, so obviously I’m not the only one that took notice of his research capability.
  • Lu Zhang
    • Fighting the factor wars against the powers that be…


The top 5 lists above are by no means the end-all be-all of academic finance research…but they are pretty dang good. There are literally 100’s of other sites we review continuously, but the sheer number of research articles being produced by the academic finance community is mind boggling. The top 5 lists above will give you a good start to identifying some new/upcoming research. Of course, another option is to simply follow our blog, but we’ll be the first to admit we miss a lot of great articles.

Good luck finding some academic alpha!

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About the Author:

After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned a PhD, and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management that delivers affordable active exposures for tax-sensitive investors. Dr. Gray has published four books and a number of academic articles. Wes is a regular contributor to multiple industry outlets, to include the following: Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ETF.com, and the CFA Institute. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


  1. Mark April 1, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I think this is awesome! It is a great complimentary post to all those backtest! One thing I like academic research is that, compared with either buy-side or sell-side which are somehow biased to their positions in one way or another (does not imply to AA though:)), they are relatively independent even though different scholars have different school thoughts.

    • Wesley Gray, PhD
      Wesley Gray, PhD April 1, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Hey Mark,

      In general, this is true. That said, academic research has its own bias and issues, but at least academic research has to deal with a lot more peer scrutiny so it can never be too crazy.

      Seeking the truth is a continuous quest and isn’t easy!

      • Mark April 1, 2015 at 8:56 pm

        Completely agree! It is always a continuous process, which, I think, is why it is so fascinating for scholars. With that, I am interested in your thoughts as to how to filter all kind of noisy information ?

        For me, it all comes to your beliefs as I believe that if one thing is debatable, and there is really nothing wrong or right. And what it really matter is that how consistently you apply your beliefs /philosophy! For example, lets put the debate about CAPE into this context, with so many criticisms out there, should we rely it or not is really depending on what you believe and how you can consistently employ it

        Anyway, that is my two cents, and I am interested in your thoughts/comments!

        • Wesley Gray, PhD
          Wesley Gray, PhD April 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

          Honestly, a reasonable evidence-based process followed religiously is probably a lot better than an amazing ad-hoc process followed on occasion. The biggest challenge in investing doesn’t seem to be the challenge of finding strategies that “work,” the biggest challenge is sticking to a strategy!!! And if you can stick with an evidence-based process and minimize taxes/fees along the way you are even closer to the goal line.
          Of course, all of this is 1000x easier said than done…

  2. RT1C April 1, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Journal of Portfolio Management?

    • Jack Vogel, PhD April 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm

      They post some good content as well 🙂

  3. Doug April 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks for posting this. Any other recommended search terms in additional “abnormal returns”. “Alpha” seems to be too overloaded across subjects.

    Might want to check out Arxiv’s quant finance section. Anyone can upload so its low signal-to-noise, but you if you sift through you can find a lot of good papers.

    • Wesley Gray, PhD
      Wesley Gray, PhD April 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      One of the problems with google scholar is you need to know the jargon to be an effective “searcher.” For example, googling “stocks that beat the market” won’t get you far when searching source articles, so you need to instead search for “cross-sectional anomaly.”

      A few terms for anomaly type papers:
      Abnormal returns
      four factor alpha
      anomalous returns
      cross section of returns
      market efficiency
      empirical asset pricing anomalies

      There are 100’s more depending on the context, etc. But that can get you started.

      Yep, Arxiv is also good. There are MANY good sites…this post was just meant to highlight some of the lowest hanging fruit.

  4. asddad wasdas April 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm


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