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R. Keeney—April 23, 2012. Effective Written Communication in Quantitative Economics. Communicating Economics. It is expected that if you have a Purdue AGEC degree, you will be an effective communicator of economic rationale and ideas Written and oral Interviews and applications

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R keeney april 23 2012

R. Keeney—April 23, 2012

Effective Written Communication in Quantitative Economics

Communicating economics
Communicating Economics

  • It is expected that if you have a Purdue AGEC degree, you will be an effective communicator of economic rationale and ideas

    • Written and oral

    • Interviews and applications

    • Assignments, projects, technical reports, your own promotion etc.

Some guidelines
Some Guidelines

  • All from Research without Tears

    • John Creedy, 2008, published by Edward Elgar Press

  • Quote from Samuel Johnson:

    • “What is written without effort is in general read without enjoyment.”

  • There are lots of types of writing

    • Each profession has its own standards and requirements

    • The aims here are meant to encompass nearly all professional (non-literary) writing

The objective of professional writing
The objective of professional writing

  • Clarity

    • Written communication must emerge as a transparent statement of issues, methods, and results/conclusions

  • Data/Calculations/Graphs are not clear communication

    • These are supportive or contradictory evidence in the development of a thesis (argumentative or descriptive)

    • As the author, you are the expert providing the interpretation

    • Provide clear interpretations and justify them

  • Succinctness is a virtue (often where the effort part comes in)

Creedy s 4 characteristics of well written analysis
Creedy’s 4 Characteristics of Well Written Analysis

  • Demonstrates a clear depiction of the question or problem addressed

  • Motivates the question as worthy of study or investigation

  • Explicitly states both methods and results

  • Recognizes both the value and limitations of results and conclusions

Effective writing
Effective writing…

  • …tells the reader…

    • What they will discover in the reading

    • Why this discovery is worth knowing

    • How this discovery was made

    • What is the importance or significance of the discovery

  • …consists of careful draft and revision

    • Critical review can be important to revision

  • …takes time and planning


  • Nearly every document has an introductory section, in almost every case it is the key to successful communication

    • In some professions this may be less important than an Executive Summary

    • It must provide (at least in general) answers to what, how, and why relative to the topic addressed in the writing

    • Also might lay out the further writing via signposts

      • How is the document organized for the impatient reader who wants to read in a different order than you have written?

Background review sections
Background/Review Sections

  • Relevance

    • Reviewing literature is done to serve your purposes, not to drop names or show how much you have read

      • Good literature reviews are not exhaustive

        • Your knowledge/familiarity on the other hand…

    • Might be the worst taught aspect of the writing discipline

    • Be sure to avoid: Author 1 showed/said/found X…Author 2 showed/said/found Y…Author 3 showed/said/found Z…

Main body
Main Body

  • Technical and other descriptive reporting

  • Results reporting and analysis

  • A highly variable section of writing that is tough to generalize

    • Let your topic be your guide on how a body section is broken up among discussions of

      • Data and methods

      • Results

      • Analysis


  • Restatements

    • Question/Approach/Findings

  • Implications

    • Your analysis has to mean something…

    • What limitations have been overcome and what remain

  • Necessary future work

Example paper on website
Example paper on website

  • On the class website, my writeup of the AGEC 352 diet using all 1100+ foods from the 2009 database

    • Whether it’s a good or bad example of written communication is up to you to evaluate

      • Reading critically helps your writing

      • When you are reading and find something you don’t understand, ask yourself if it is your knowledge or the author’s ability to communicate that is limiting…