Please tell me why I should care.
Development is conceptually different from other aspects of economics in that we are seriously invested in one particular outcome, that outcome being improved livelihoods and welfare of poor people. This isn't just some interesting identification strategy or abstract modeling methodology, this is a real outcome with real people. And this was a development conference, so if you aren't able to motivate me about why your research is important or realistic in actually affecting people lives, I am not really interested.
But this priority on the actual motivation of research seems to have been an afterthought on far too many of the presentations. For this lack of emphasis on why research is important, I partly blame economists and their extreme focus on empirics and methodology, loosing sight of what questions to ask and why to ask them (more on this in frustration post 2). But mostly, I blame institutionalized silo-ing. This conference was advertized to economic departments, was put on by my applied economics department and included speakers from economics departments. But development is, like I said, conceptually different from just economics. In order to really address issues of poverty, applying economics to research topics in health, behavior, education, technology, agriculture, fertility, migration and politics necessitates feedback from people outside of economics. Actually addressing these topics requires interaction across disciplines and sectors. This conference really really needed representation from the public sector, from NGOs, and from real development practitioners (looking at you, MDPs).
What was really needed was more people to stick their necks out and ask: why is this [insert endogeneous effect and measurable impact here] even important? How does this relate to development and improving human welfare?
Non-academics are much better at asking this question and thinking critically about actual implementation of development. And there simply weren't enough at this conference.
If you can't answer this question convincingly, you need to to seriously reconsider your research.