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Writing Econ Term Paper Notes Essay

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The single most common failure of students in writing research papers is to misperceive what is expected in a quality research paper. The normal system of teaching what is expected is generally to have you do one, more or less in the dark, and then grade you. High grades provide positive reinforcement and low grades provide negative reinforcement; after a number of papers, the vagaries of individual instructor grading aside, everyone hopefully gets the hang of it. Our purpose in this missive is to short circuit this process by providing as much information to you in advance of your writing as we can. It presents a number of ideas we have gathered over the years from a number of sources. A more extensive source of information on writing papers in economics is Donald N. McCloskey, The Writing of Economics (Macmillan Press, 1987) which also appears in condensed form as "Economical Writing" in the April 1985 issue of Economic Inquiry. II. The Research Process

1. Choose your topic. This topic should have an economic dimension. It should be narrow enough to permit a sharp focusing of ideas, but not so narrow as to make the acquisition of information unreasonably difficult. It has to be manageable in the time allotted. 2. Acquaint yourself with the existing literature. At this stage previous work on the topic is identified and read. The chief bibliographic source in economics is the Journal of Economic Literature, a quarterly subject-classified listing of all recent articles in economics and related journals. An extensive list of other sources, including computer searches, is provided at the end of this handout. 3. Think critically about the material and the topic and identify, if it hasn't already been identified, the specific focus on your inquiry. In economics this frequently takes the form of framing a hypothesis or limited set of hypotheses which are to be explored in the paper. A hypothesis is a tentative theory or supposition which is provisionally adopted to provide a focus for the research (e.g., ...

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