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Instruction for Econ 4630 paper

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  1. Instruction for Econ 4630 paper • The paper: 5 to 10 pages, 12 point font, and double-spaced. • The research paper is due by 11:59 p.m. on Wed, December 7. • Both the paper (Microsoft Word or PDF format) AND the data file must be submitted by email to me ( ). • Your paper will be checked for plagiarism at or elsewhere. • The penalty will be assessed for late submission.  The full percentage points for the paper (10 points) will be reduced by 2.5 points for each additional day after the due date. NO EXCEPTIONS.

  2. Instruction for Econ 4630 paper (cont.) • You should collect data on one dependent variable and at least two explanatoryvariables. At least one of your explanatory variables must be continuous; the other can be a dummy variable if you wish. • Motivation 1 point: Your paper should have an introduction in which you state your problem or issue and explain why researching this issue is interesting or useful. • Literature Review 1 point: You should read some articles and existing literature related to the topic and discussed them in your paper. • Hypothesis 1 point: Somewhere in your paper (perhaps the introduction) you should state your hypotheses, and discuss the theory are you consulting to arrive at your hypotheses, or at the very least how you think the variables are related (this is not based on your results, but on your prior expectations.

  3. Instruction for Econ 4630 paper (cont.) • Descriptive Statistics 2 points: In a later section, be sure to describe your data, explaining where you got them. Include a table of summary statistics and discuss the statistics in the table. • Regression Analysis 3 points: You should also have a section in which you explain the model you are using and the results. Be certain to present an interpretation of your regression coefficients, and explain (by referring to hypothesis tests) whether or not the estimated coefficients are statistically significant. Present and discuss your R2 statistic. • Conclusion 1 point: Finally, your paper should have a conclusion in which you sum up your findings, and discuss any policy implications. If you see flaws in your model, discuss how it might be improved with better or different data or other statistical methods.

  4. Instruction for Econ 4630 paper (cont.) • The assessment of paper (10% of total grade):

  5. Importance of writing • The result of clear thinking • Fuzzy style means that your thinking is fuzzy. • The object is not to write so that the reader can understand, but rather so that the reader cannot possibly misunderstand. • Style and content • The yolk and the white in a scrambled egg: they are inseparable. (D. McCloskey) • This presentation is based on Dr. McPherson’s handout.

  6. Building a paper: a top-down approach Select Topic Write Theme Read Literature Create Outline Collect Data Analyze Data Write Paper Re-Write Paper

  7. Select topic and define your theme • Be specific • To discuss economic development: too vague • The effect of higher education on earnings potential in Zimbabwe • The effect of size, the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, granite countertop in kitchen on selling price of house in Denton, TX • The effect of country characteristics (government consumption, percent of adult population with a secondary education, etc) on economic growth rates • The effect of law enforcement on crime rates • The effect of driving distance, fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts per round on PGA pro-golfers earnings • The effect of extending three point line to 20 feet 9 inches on the aggression in the post play in men’s college basketball beginning with 2008 – 09 season: • • • Write down your theme before you start writing. • “The purpose of this paper is to discuss (explain, analyze, explore)…”

  8. Read literature • Articles from journals, books, magazines, etc • • The relationship between school district and house price • Select subject: Economics, Econometrics and Finance • Keyword search: determinant, house price • • • Summarize each paper you read in a couple of sentences. • Keep it short and simple • Write down the citation

  9. Organize the information • Introduction: you describe the theme and purpose of the paper and lay out hypothesis. • Body: you explain the theory, statistical methods, present and interpret your findings. • The determinants of gasoline prices: the supply and demand theory • The importance of human capital • Conclusion: you sum up the main points. State any problems or limitations, and suggest line for future research.

  10. Gather data, analyze, write and re-write • Data collection based on a concrete idea • Sales of Mercedes Benz as a function of day of the week • Tips as a function of whether or not the customer charges the bill • Links to data websites are available at the course website ( • Run the regression • Write a first draft quickly • “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences.” (Strunk and White) • “When you catch adjectives, kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They are weaker when they are close together; they give strength when they are wide apart.” (Mark Twain)

  11. Better writing: a bottom-up approach Paper Sections Paragraphs Sentences Words

  12. Words: some scattered thoughts • Use fancy words sparingly • The professor’s time as the department’s chair was contentious but propitiously fugacious. • The professor’s time as the department’s chair was marked by strife, but fortunately she held the position only briefly. • (deliberate use of fancy languages) “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” [this is an excerpt from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address]

  13. Words: some scattered thoughts (cont.) • Proper spelling is important. • “data” is a plural word: these data show that… • effect vs. affect: • effect used as a noun: a result. “The effect was interesting.” • effect used as a verb: to bring about . “The boss decided to effect a change.” • affect can only be used as a verb: to influence. “The poorly written paper affected the professor in a negative way.” • Unique cannot be modified. That is, something cannot be described as very unique or somewhat unique. Either something is unique or it is not. • Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes: “its” not “it’s”

  14. Building quality sentences • Sentences must be complete (that is, they can stand alone) • Fish are a healthy food to eat. Because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. • Fish are a healthy food to eat because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. • Sentences have subjects and verbs, and these must agree • Airline passengers needs more overhead bin space. • The typical airline passenger needs… • Use the active voice, not the passive voice • The Cowboys’ victory over the Buffalo Bills will always be remembered by true fans. • True Cowboys fans will always remember the victory over the Buffalo Bills.

  15. Building quality sentences (cont.) • Avoid run-on sentences • I am a Baltimore Orioles fan because they once were a championship team even though that was twenty years ago, in spite of the fact that they have an idiot for an owner, a guy who may be as bad an owner as there is, and that’s saying a lot. • Avoid the split infinitive (or not.) • An infinitive is “to” plus a verb: for example, “to swim,” “to fly,” “to write,” etc. • A split infinitive occurs when there is an adverb between “to” and the verb. • Avoid: Her allergies caused her to forcefully blow her nose during class. • Better: Her allergies caused her to blow her nose forcefully during class. • Clip from Star Trek: "to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before“ is from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  16. Building quality sentences (cont.) • Sentence order • Usually, a sentence is making a single point, argument, statement, question, etc. • Put the main point of the sentence near the beginning. • NOT-SO-GOOD: Although they smell bad, drool a lot, and require a lot of attention, raising small children can be rewarding. • BETTER: Raising small children can be rewarding, even though they smell bad, drool a lot, and require a lot of attention.

  17. Building quality paragraphs • A thesis is a focused argument or point. • General structure of a paragraph: • Topic sentence states the thesis of the paragraph and doesn’t have to be the first sentence, but it usually is. • Other sentences should support and/or modify the topic sentence. • After you’ve written the paragraph, re-read it and analyze your topic sentence. Does it sum up the main point of the paragraph? • Example: Dentistry is a profession that requires a great deal of education and training. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, a dentist has completed four years of graduate education. In order to maintain her certification, a dentist must complete additional training throughout her career. There are hundreds of dental schools at universities across America.

  18. Building sections • The logic we use in constructing sections is very similar to that which we use when building paragraphs. • Recall: A paragraph • is about a single idea, point, topic • has a topic sentence, almost always at or near the beginning of the paragraph • includes other sentences that describe/modify/clarify the topic sentence • Sections are built from paragraphs. If we list the topic sentences of our paragraphs, almost always we can logically group these topics (and therefore paragraphs) together. • Just as is the case with paragraphs, each section has a topic sentence. This means that all paragraph topic sentences must relate to and/or modify the section topic sentence.

  19. Plagiarism • Plagiarism is using someone else’s words, or ideas, or statistics without giving that person credit. Whether or not he or she means to, the plagiarist essentially steals someone’s work and puts his or her name on it. • In the Department of Economics, your professors will at the very least give you an “F” for the course and turn the case over to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities – there will be no warnings or opportunities to re-write. • If you paraphrase or want to use someone else’s statistics, fine. Just be sure to briefly cite it in the text and provide the full citation in the reference section of the paper. • • Lave, C.A., 1985, Speeding, Coordination, and the 55 MPH Limit, The American Economic Review 75, 1159-1164.

  20. Plagiarism (cont.) • A certain amount of direct quoting is also O.K., but use quotation marks for quotes longer than 40 words. Longer quotes should be indented and single-spaced. In either case, cite the author in the text, with full citation in the references. • Fundamental items to remember: • You must give credit where credit is due. • Plagiarism is intellectual dishonesty. • When citing, make it easy for your reader to locate the exact places in the sources you cites.