Writing an economics paper

The key is to just be practical. Be sure to start your research as soon as possible. Your topic will evolve along the way, and the question you begin with may become less interesting as new information draws you in other directions. There are two types of economic sources: empirical data information that is or can be easily translated into numerical form , and academic literature books and articles that help you organize your ideas. The literature review demonstrates your familiarity with scholarly work on your topic and lays the foundations for your paper. The particular issues you intent to raise, the terms you will employ, and the approach you will take should be defined with reference to previous scholarly works.

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Formulate a question, problem or conjecture, and describe the approach you will take to answer, solve, or test it. In presenting your hypothesis, you need to discuss the data set you are using and the type of regression you will run. You should say where you found the data, and use a table, graph, or simple statistics to summarize them.

In term papers, it may not be possible to reach conclusive results. It is okay to have an inconclusive paper, but it is not okay to make overly broad and unsupported statements. There are essentially two decisions to make: 1 How many empirical results should be presented, and 2 How should these results be described in the text? The key to discussing results is to stay clear of making value judgments, and rely instead on economic facts and analyses. It is not the job of an economist to draw policy conclusions, even if the research supports strong evidence in a particular direction.

As with any research paper, source referencing depends on the will of a professor a discourse community. However, economists generally use soft references in the literature review section and then cite sources in conventional formats at the end of papers. Google Tag Manager. Attributes of Writing Economics The discourse is often mathematical, with lots of formulas, lemmas, and proofs. Writing styles vary widely. Some authors are very dry and technical while a few are quite eloquent.


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Your writing will demonstrate that you understand the findings that relate to the topic. Structure Economists use the first few paragraphs to set up research questions and the model and data they use to think about it. Clear and Concise Work Clarity is hard to achieve, but revising and reworking a paper ensures it is easy to read Organize your ideas into an argument with the help of an outline.

Define the important terms you will use State your hypothesis and proceed deductively to reach your conclusions Avoid excess verbiage Edit yourself, remove what is not needed, and keep revising until you get down to a simple, efficient way of communicating Use the active voice Put statements in positive form Omit needless words concise writing is clear writing In summaries, generally stick to one tense Time Management Poor time management can wreck the best-planned papers.

Start the project by finding your topic Begin your research Start and outline Write a draft Revise and polish The Language of Economic Analysis Economic theory has become very mathematical.

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Finding and Using Sources There are two types of economic sources: empirical data information that is or can be easily translated into numerical form , and academic literature books and articles that help you organize your ideas. Presenting a Hypothesis Formulate a question, problem or conjecture, and describe the approach you will take to answer, solve, or test it. Presenting Results There are essentially two decisions to make: 1 How many empirical results should be presented, and 2 How should these results be described in the text?

Focus only on what is important and be as clear as possible. Both smart and dumb readers will appreciate you pointing things out directly and clearly. Less is usually more: Reporting a small group of relevant results is better than covering every possible statistical analysis that could be made on the data.

BIG MISTAKES to avoid doing in your Economics paper

Clearly and precisely describe your tables, graphs, and figures in the text of your results section. When you use the ideas of another in any manner, including paraphrasing, you still must acknowledge your source, simply without quotation marks. In addition to citing all conventional, published materials referenced in your paper, you must also acknowledge in some fashion the following sources: unpublished work, including that of other students; previous papers of your own, if written on a closely related topic; data obtained from the world wide web or electronic databases; and significant guidance received from faculty members or students.

This last requirement is not meant to discourage discussions about paper topics with other faculty members or students, just as requiring citations is not meant to discourage the use of written sources. Note: It is not necessary to acknowledge the help you have received from your faculty sponsor. Flattery will get you nowhere. Cite previous papers of your own and help you have received from faculty other than your sponsor and students in an unnumbered footnote before footnote 1. It might read like so: This paper is an extension of an earlier paper entitled "The Economics of Advertising in Minor League Baseball" written for EC in the fall of I wish to thank Joe Jones '99 and Professor Jane Smith for suggesting this topic and helping me to clarify the issues.

When using data, fully acknowledge the source in the text, not with a footnote or in-text citation referring to a bibliography. You should state the government agency or organization that the data originally comes from. If the data are obtained secondhand, from an electronic database whether on the web or otherwise or other source, you must acknowledge this as well.

Be aware that if you are using data in your paper, you may be asked to provide the data to your faculty sponsor in a format which would enable replication of your results. For the rest of your citations, you are encouraged to use the author-date method of in-text citation, rather than footnotes. This method is much simpler for both the writer and the reader. When using this method, footnotes are only used for material not considered important enough to be included in the text.

For additional examples and guidelines for citations see any issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives or the American Economic Review. Both author and date of publication are enclosed in parentheses: My conclusions differ from those of an important earlier study Friedman and Schwartz The citation should stand just before a punctuation mark.

If this is impractical, it should be inserted at a logical break in the sentence: Since the Arab oil embargo at the end of , several papers Bergstein ; Krasner ; Varon and Takeuchi have assessed the probability of successful cartelization of other primary commodities. If the author's name has just been mentioned, or if you want to refer to the author directly in your statement, it need not be repeated in the citation: According to Armington , products distinguished by place of production are not perfect substitutes.

Refer to a particular page, section, or equation as follows: Keynes , p. Bibliography Your bibliography should list all references cited in the text. Some faculty members also want you to include in your bibliography other sources you consulted but did not cite in your paper. Ask your faculty sponsor about the content of your bibliography. Below are listed several examples of the proper method of citation in the bibliography, including citation of electronic sources.


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While there is no definitive manual of style used for economics, we encourage students to follow the methods of citation of the Journal of Economic Literature, on which the following examples are based. See any issue for further examples. Book Tietenberg, Thomas H. Economics and Environmental Policy. Brookfield, Vt. Journal Article: Nelson, Randy A. Newspaper Article: Findlay, David. World Wide Web For web sources, simply cite the source as you normally would, including publication information if the work has been previously published, and add the URL of the source at the end, followed by the date you accessed it in parentheses.

If the URL is dynamically generated i. Fair, Ray C. PDF 11 June The Writing of Economics. New York: MacMillan, Chicago: University of Chicago, Economic Content: Does the paper contain some substantive economic content? Although it may seem obvious that one should write an economics paper for an economics course, we occasionally review drafts which are more suited to courses in government, physics, chemistry, or mathematics with an occasional dollar sign thrown in. Interdisciplinary papers are acceptable, but one of the disciplines has to be economics and its representation must be more than token.

Analytical Depth: Have you analyzed the important issues in some depth, or is the treatment superficial? Have you sought out and included relevant facts?

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Does the research reflect a reasonable awareness of the relevant literature? Does the paper make clear how all the facts fit together? Organization and Style: Is the paper organized into coherent subsections which form a logical sequence of arguments leading directly to the conclusions? Does the introduction provide an overview of the paper and the role of each section?

Are the conclusions summarized and clearly specified? Is it well written? Is it grammatically correct and free of typographical and spelling errors? Originality: Have you exhibited some degree of originality or have you simply regurgitated readily accessible materials? Have you clearly identified the nature of the original contribution for the reader? While these four dimensions are used by all professors in grading the paper, each professor will emphasize each one differently, and have other guidelines as well. Each professor will also have his or her own rules for penalizing late papers.

You are responsible for knowing and understanding your faculty sponsor's grading methods. Sources for Research Research for your paper should not be conducted exclusively on the Web.

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In fact, the Web is probably the third or fourth place you want to begin to look for resources. Use Colby's reference librarians.

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Search the catalog and browse the library stacks and periodicals for related books and articles. Exclusive use of the Web will, at best, cause you to miss an important piece of work related to your project. At worst, it will give you incomplete or inaccurate information. A paper which relies exclusively on Web research is not acceptable as an EC or other course-related project. However, the Web does provide a host of useful indexes and data sources as well as on-line versions of journal articles and news reports.

Use all Web sources with caution, however. There is a lot of inaccurate and misleading information in cyberspace. Some of the most useful resources are listed below. It provides an expanded version of the Journal of Economic Literature JEL indexes of journals, books, and dissertations. LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe is the worlds's most comprehensive, full-text online law, news and business information index, including cases, statutes, bills, trade journals, wire services, national and regional news, and the foreign press.

Government Documents from to the present as well as Marcive's shipping list records for access to titles not yet cataloged. Individual indexing available for treaties and articles appearing in UN periodicals.

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