ECON 490 is a course of independent study for students interested in further in-depth research on a particular topic in economics. You may register for 1-3 credits, but before you register in my section you must get my approval. It is your responsibility to choose the topic of study, though I will guide you as necessary. I will consider both your topic (especially whether it is relevant to my areas of particular knowledge) and your background (especially whether you have had the necessary courses and have demonstrated an ability to do research) before approving your independent study. Once you have my approval, you can get the call number to register.
In general, students engaged in an independent study course should expect to spend at least as much time and effort as they would spend in a regular course of equal level and credits. Normally, student grades will depend on:
This research paper is worth 75% of your grade. It will be graded in four parts, as follows, and you must complete each part. Late penalties of one letter grade per week will apply. Research projects other than a paper must be renegotiated in writing.
Your grade on the research paper will depend more on the content than the length, but as a rule of thumb you should expect that the final draft of the research paper will be about 12-15 pages (or more) of text per credit. So if you register for three credits, your paper should be approximately 36-45 pages long, not counting the cover page with abstract, the references, endnotes, or any figures and tables. If your paper contains statistical or mathematical analyses, of course, then this is more dense content and I would probably not expect it to be as long. This paper must be typewritten and double-spaced, with one-inch margins all around the text, and I prefer normal fonts of 10-12 points. It is silly to play with the margins or the fonts just to make it fit a page target.
I. Paper Topic and Initial References
Topic Statement:II. Thesis Statement, Outline, and Expanded Bibliography
You must complete a one-page typewritten proposal for a paper. The topic proposal, like the paper, must be typewritten, neat and professional. The proposal should be one page long, but you may extend it to two pages if necessary. Be concise!
You must attach a list of initial references to your topic statement, to show what you plan to read and what information you have found so far on your topic. It is important not to pick a topic for which our library has no material. The format for your initial list of references is given in Part II of this assignment.
Rely primarily on books, articles in professional and business journals, and articles in academic publications. Minimize your reliance on unpublished internet sources; though these sources can be more current, they do not go through any review or editing process to determine whether their arguments are valid or substantiated by evidence.
If you are unfamiliar with these library sources, start at http://www.library.unr.edu/. The Articles and Websites link will take you to search engines you can use with a UNR account (Econlit is the best one for economics), and the library has online subscriptions to many, many journals.
This is a one paragraph summation of your revised proposal; it should state a clear hypothesis, and summarize whether the evidence (so far) supports it or not. This should begin with a statement like, "In this paper, I intend to show that foreign direct investment has had a dramatic effect on China's economic growth," not something like "In this paper I will describe China's foreign investment." An hypothesis is a clear statement derived from or supporting a body of theory, and it must be refutable (i.e., capable of being disproved). To be generally accepted, an hypothesis must be supported with an objective reading of the evidence. Our understanding advances when we disprove a generally accepted hypothesis, and then advance a new one that fits the evidence better. Thus, there is nothing wrong with disproving an hypothesis, as long as the hypothesis is not just a straw man.
In your final paper, your thesis statement should be somewhere clearly stated in your introduction, and it affects the writing of the entire paper -- since the stated purpose of the paper is to describe evidence supporting (or contradicting) your thesis statement.
Generally, a paper is divided into five to seven sections. Section I is the introduction, in which you both try to interest the reader in your paper and explain what is coming and how it is organized. The last section is the conclusion, which tells the reader what you did and what your results mean, and may also indicate areas of future research or possible implications. The sections in between are where you make your argument. Usually, the second section has a review of the literature or the theory, while the third section might review the specific case or relevant history. Following these background sections, you make your specific argument and provide evidence. Your argument may have an historical component, and you might consider using relevant economic theory or even statistical analyses to explain what you are finding. Make an argument based on collected evidence, rather than just using the paper to describe a particular case or situation.
I assume that you have done outlines before. It is organized in levels, with Roman numerals (I, II, III, ...) at the top, then capital letters (A, B, C, ...), then numbers (1, 2, 3, ...), then lower case letters in parentheses ((a), (b), (c), ...), then lower-case roman numerals ((i), (ii), (iii), ...) if you get this far down. Outlines often go down to the paragraph level, but not below. Remember, in an outline there is no A without a B, no 1 without a 2, et cetera. If you have more than seven separate parts to a level (e.g., in Section III you have A through K) then you may need to think about reorganizing your paper. Give enough detail in the lower levels of your outline (A., 1, (a), (i)) so I know how you plan to go about showing what you want to show.
Note that while your actual paper will follow the organization of your outline, you will not use the numbering system in your actual paper except at the level of the section headings or, sometimes, the first level of subheadings.
Your bibliography is a list of outside sources that you either have read or will read that are relevant to your topic, and you can tell how many is appropriate by looking at the references of other academic articles (a page, perhaps?). At this stage, this may contain references that you eventually decide not to cite, and of course you may add new references as you find them. Include assigned texts if you use them, and try to use books, scholarly articles, and even stories in the press where possible and relevant. I am looking for the quantity, quality, and relevance of your outside readings.
You should list your sources alphabetically and unnumbered. Here are seven sample references, for (1) a book, (2) an article in an edited book, (3) an article in a journal, (4) multiple authors, (5) a newpaper article where no author name is listed, (6) institutional author, and (7) an internet source where the print version is not available. The titles of books and journals are capitalized and underlined (you may use italics instead of underlines if you wish), while article titles are in quotes and only use capitalization for initial words and proper nouns.Olson, Mancur (2000), Power and Prosperity (Basic Books).Note that the spaces in the internet source's URL help make cleaner line breaks.
Cargill, Thomas F., & Elliott Parker (2003), "Japanese economic structures and finance: Characteristics and causes of the current slowdown," in Structural Foundations of International Finance, edited by P.C. Padoan, P. Brenton, & G. Boyd: chapter 9 (Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.).
Parker, Elliott (1995), "Shadow factor price convergence and the response of Chinese state-owned construction enterprises to reform," Journal of Comparative Economics 21(1): 54-81.
Banks, Dwayne, Elliott Parker, & Jeanne Wendel (2001), "Strategic interaction among hospitals and nursing facilities: The efficiency effects of payment systems and vertical integration," Health Economics 10(2): 119-134.
Economist (1997), "Banking in emerging markets" (April 12): 34-37.
World Bank (1993), The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).
IMF (International Monetary Fund, 2001), International Capital Markets: Developments, Prospects, and Key Policy Issues <http://www.imf.org/ external/ pubs/ ft/ icm/ 2001/ 01/ eng/ index.htm>.
III. First Draft
I grade on your research, your explanation of your hypothesis and the background theory, your paper's format (i.e., how well you can follow the instructions here), your paper's organization, the quality of your writing, and the quality of your content as it applies to the topic.
I expect that you have written papers before, and know how to write a good research paper. Your paper will be graded for grammar, spelling, clarity, and flow as well as accuracy and originality of content. Have somebody read it over for typographical errors and things that just don't make sense. I prefer that you write this paper in a professional tone, and avoid being flippant. Originality matters, but it is an issue of content, not creative style. Don't write things that you can't support with evidence.
A good paper will be interesting and original, well-organized and well-written. It will fit the assigned topic. It will follow the assigned format as closely as possible, and will also demonstrate that the writer has a good grasp on the material. A good paper will be analytical, will back up potentially controversial or unusual statements with evidence, and will make a solid case. Never say a cop-out statement like “I think that...,” since your opinions are either irrelevant (if not backed up by evidence or logical argument) or implied by the fact that you wrote the paper.
This is NOT an Opinion Paper! As much as possible, you are expected to base your paper on material you have studied for this class, and not base it on opinions that you had coming into this class. Am I repeating myself on this one?
Use your own words and ideas, or cite your source clearly to avoid plagiarism. I am reasonable about this, as long as you are making a good effort at citing your sources, and a mere phrase here and there will not necessarily set off alarm bells. But lifting somebody else’s work, stealing their words and work without proper attribution, is plagiarism. Plagiarism will result in an “F” for the assignment, at minimum, and possibly failing the course or even charges filed with the Student Judicial Affairs Office, which could potentially result in dismissal from the university.
To make sure that you are not using other people’s work, you must turn your paper into me electronically (i.e., on a 3.5" disk or a CD, if you have a CD burner), along with the paper copy. The electronic file must match the paper copy, and I will check this. I subscribe to a service that searches through a huge database to find matches with past student papers, published material, websites, et cetera. If the words in your paper match those of another source, and you did not use quote marks and proper citation, then you will be in trouble. Every semester I catch somebody who thinks I am not serious about this.
Every semester somebody forgets to back up their document, and they lose it the night before it is due when a virus hits them or their computer crashes. I don't know how, but your computer seems to know when you are stressed. Make a second copy on another disk, for security.
Your paper should have a cover page that has your name, my class, the date, the title, and a one-paragraph abstract that summarizes your paper. You should have an introduction that begins on page 1, and a conclusion at the end. Use section headings to clarify your paper's organization. Put page numbers at the bottom, but do not number the cover page, abstract, or end notes if you use them. Also, any figures or tables should each be put on their own separate, unnumbered page at the back of the paper, and they should be referred to in the text as Figure 1 or Table 4, for example.
I have pet peeves you should know about. Some are careless errors, and some are issues of preference. All sentences must have, at minimum, a subject and a verb. Paragraphs need to hold together, not be too long or too short, and the first sentence should give the reader some clue of what the paragraph is about. Vary your sentences a little for more interesting reading. Learn to use colons and semicolons properly. For example, a semicolon can separate two stand-alone sentences making a similar point. In the U.S., commas and periods go within the ending quote mark (though not if there is a citation at the end of the sentence). I like two spaces after a sentence, though html editors like the one I am using now prefer single spaces. Know that "it's" means "it is," while "its" is possessive. The abbreviation e.g. means "for example," while i.e. means "in other words."
Your paper should not ramble, and should make logical sense. Don't quote unless the quote is just too good to pass up; instead, learn to paraphrase. I like papers that try to be objective, and I suggest you avoid being flip, funny or sarcastic. I don't like too many exclamation points! I have more peeves that I will remember when I read your papers. Use the College Handbook or similar source for a style guide. Use the UNR Writing Center for help, that’s why they’re there.
This is a research paper. You must use outside research in addition to the relevant assigned readings, and you must cite your research in the text. All citations must be listed alphabetically in a bibliographic section entitled “References.” All sources in your references must be cited somewhere in the text.
When you cite your references, put the name(s), the year after a comma, and the page number(s) if appropriate after a colon, all in parentheses. For example, the seven references listed in the previous section would be cited in the text as (Olson, 2000); (Cargill & Parker, 2002); (Parker, 1995); (Banks, Parker, & Wendel, 2001); (Economist, 1997); (World Bank, 1993); and (IMF, 2001). A citation generally goes at the end of the sentence or phrase, before the ending punctuation, as in:Schumpeter emphasized the role of entrepreneurship in driving economic development (Gregory & Stuart, 1995: 66).If you quote and then cite, the end-quote marks go before the citation, which goes before the ending punctuation. If you are citing the source of a quote, and your citation is at the end of the sentence, then the ending quotation marks go before the citation, if in:"In fact, in any society with autocratic governments, an autocrat with the same incentives as a roving bandit is bound to appear sooner or later" (Olson, 2000: 27).Though I would probably paraphrase this, or rephrase this as:Olson (2000: 27) argues that, "in any society with autocratic governments, an autocrat with the same incentives as a roving bandit is bound to appear sooner or later."If you already mention the author in the text there is no need to repeat the citation again, as in:Hayek (1945) argued that prices served to convey information.You should use full names for historical figures, but only last names for your research sources.
Don't forget to give page numbers for a quote or something from a book, e.g., (Olson, 2000: 68-69). For sources with more than two authors, cite all authors the first time and then later use et al. (this is an abbreviation for et alia, Latin for "and others"). For example, source #4 above would be cited after the first time as (Banks, et al., 1994), though if there are more than three authors you can use et al. the first time. If you are citing two sources with the exact same author(s) and year, then both cite and reference them with the year plus a, b, c, ..., e.g., Parker (1995a) and Parker (1995b).
It is not necessary to cite the same source excessively, one sentence after the other, especially if it is clear that it is a continuation of the same argument.
Use endnotes to explain points in more detail if necessary, but not to cite sources, and include these in a section at the end entitled “Notes”. I encourage you to cite relevant material from the assigned texts. Finally, you should use quotes sparingly, instead paraphrasing where possible then citing the source of the idea. Extended quotes (i.e., a paragraph) should be single spaced and indented, and quote marks are thus redundant.
IV. Final Draft
Your final draft is due on the final day of lecture, and it must address my comments and corrections on the first draft. All late papers will be penalized. If the paper will be more than one week late, you need to meet with me to discuss the possibility of an incomplete.Any questions? Come talk to me.