ECON 4331W: WRITING ASSIGNMENT

ECON 4331W: WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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Assignment Objective:

The objective of this assignment is to give you an opportunity to:

1. Apply analytical and empirical skills and economic concepts to examine an

interesting economic development issue.

2. Learn how to write a formal report underpinned by economic logic and data

evidence.

Expectations for the Assignment

 Your report should include the economic analysis of a “development issue”,

and your own insight into the factors involved. Survey or descriptive papers

(reporting other people’s work/ideas on issues) or hypothetical scenarios are

not acceptable. Your target audience for the report is educated college

graduates.

 The assignment has four parts; each part must be turned in on the due date.

Late assignments will only be accepted under documented special

circumstances.

 We will use Moodle to organize all files related to this assignment. The

assignments must be uploaded directly to Moodle.

 The only acceptable format is .pdf, we will use the Review options on PDF to

provide comments and make corrections to your paper.

 If you have any problem understanding what is expected from you or how to

go about completing this assignment successfully, please contact me or the

writing assistant.

Assignment Format

The assignment has four parts, each nesting the preceding one

1. Topic

2. Outline

3. First Draft

4. Final Version

Please name the files you upload to the Moodle according to the titles above.

Please include your name in the file name. For instance, I expect your topic to

appear in folder as “Topic_LastName,FirstName.pdf”.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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1. TOPIC of the Report- DUE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2018 5:00 PM

TOPIC MUST BE ACCEPTED BY MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2018 AT NOON

 You must submit a one-page paper carefully explaining the chosen topic.

 Title (one sentence bold typed): Write down the question you would like to

answer. This question must be related to a development issue and must be

susceptible of being solved by the analysis you plan to undertake.

 First paragraph: Describe possible answers to this question and which one

you believe to be the most plausible and why. Explain why it is an

interesting question to think about.

 Second paragraph: Describe how you would go about finding the answer to

this question. In particular, where you could find reliable data to help you

with the analysis.

Choosing a Topic

 Be careful that your project is not too general or ambitious. If it is, narrow it

to some specific aspect of a more general question. Remember that welldefined

topics are easier to complete successfully.

 Your question must not be about one particular country or a small subset of

countries. The group of countries your question is about must have at least

20 elements (the more the better). The unit of observation does not need to

be countries; it could be states, regions or even municipalities. However, in

these cases it is usually hard to find data, so make sure to check data

availability beforehand. Make sure you can obtain at least 20 years of data

for the countries you chose (the same 20 years for all countries).

 Do not pick illegal goods or countries which do not have reliable data.

Examples of Possible Topics

 Here are some examples of good topics:

– What is the effect of some economic variable (e.g. college education) on

the growth rates (or levels of GDP) of some group of countries (e.g. SubSaharan

Africa)?

– What is the impact of a particular type of economic policy on the growth

rates (or levels of GDP) of some group of countries. For topics of this type

you need to have at least 15 countries that implemented the policy and

15 that did not.

– How differently does some economic variable or policy affect the

economic growth in different groups of countries (e.g. rich versus poor).

For topics of this type you need to have at least 15 countries in each

group.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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 Below are examples of “UNACCEPTABLE” topics because they are either

vague, not related to development, or too broad:

– Asian Financial Crises.

– How does fiscal policy affect European countries.

– Hyperinflation.

– How did a particular policy affect growth rates in Brazil.

– Trade in Coffee between US and Columbia.

– Any hypothetical scenario or a “development survey”

 Students are not allowed to choose the same topic. Even if it happens by

chance we will need to deal with it.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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2. OUTLINE of the Report- DUE FRIDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2018 AT 5:00 PM

You must submit a 3-5 page paper giving a clear outline of your project. It

should contain:

 The title of the report and your name.

 A clear introduction describing the development issue you chose and the

way you have decided to analyze it. The question that you are trying to

answer should be included in your introduction.

 A literature review. You should read 2-3 papers related to your topic and

give a brief summary of those papers. You should cite them properly using

any standard citation method. You should also comment on how your

analysis relates to theirs; the differences and similarities.

 A summary of your essential ideas or arguments you plan to elaborate on.

Try to limit yourself to 3 main points. Feel free to make subsections where

needed. Try to base your arguments on the theoretical analysis you learned

in class.

 A clear plan of how you are going to answer the question you have proposed.

The plan should include a description of where you can find the data you

need and what you plan on doing with it.

 A conclusion in which you summarize the main points you have developed

so far.

 A bibliography where you list the references and data used. You may add an

appendix for graphs, data, or mathematical derivations.

NOTE: YOU MUST HAVE DATA BY THE TIME YOU SUBMIT THE OUTLINE.

YOUR IDEAS SHOULD BE DEVELOPED ENOUGH THAT YOU KNOW WHAT

VARIABLES YOU WILL NEED. HAVE THESE VARIABLES DOWNLOADED AT

THIS POINT.

order n 3

ECON 4331W: WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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3. FIRST DRAFT- DUE FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM

 You should submit a 10-20 page version of your paper containing all your

main ideas/points. The paragraphs should be double spaced and the font

Times New Roman size 12.

 If your first draft is good, you will only have to make minor revisions before

turning it in as your final report and will not need to include new material.

 In the first paragraph of your introduction you must include a thesis

statement1, one sentence (bold type). The thesis statement should convey

your main idea to the reader; it should be an answer to the question you put

forward in your outline. The introduction should also explain why you

selected the development issue and the set of countries (or units of

observation) you did; why are they interesting?

 The first draft should contain the same elements as the outline, but each

point should be fully developed and articulated and the data analysis should

be complete. See the file “Paper Structure.pdf” for more information on how

to structure your paper.

 You need to provide a complete list of references in your bibliography.

Include only the sources you actually used in your paper and make sure

your sources are credible.

1 Some helpful suggestions on thesis statements can be found on the websites below:

• Definition and examples of thesis statements (St. Cloud State University):

http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/thesistatement.html

• How to write a thesis statement (Indiana University):

http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/thesis_statement.shtml

• A website that helps you develop a thesis statement:

http://www.ozline.com/electraguide/thesis.html

• Developing a thesis statement (University of Wisconsin)

http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/thesis_complete.html

• Thesis Statements (University of North Carolina)

http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/thesis.html

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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4. FINAL REPORT- DUE FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2018 AT 5:00 PM

 You should submit a final (10 to 20 pages), polished version of your paper,

taking into account the comments made on previous assignments. You

should not need to add new material at this stage; although you are allowed

to if you have discovered elements that would substantially alter the logic or

the conclusions of your paper.

 Remember to keep a copy of the final paper for your records.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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GRADING CRITERIA

 Each part of the assignment (Outline, First Draft, and Final Report) will

receive an individual grade.

 Your grade will be divided in the following way:

Topic: 00 %

Outline: 15 %

First Draft: 35 %

Final Report: 50 %

 Grading of all parts of the assignment – the Outline, First Draft, and Final

Report – will be based on:

1. The level of analytical skill and intuition demonstrated in the report (e.g.

whether you can analyze the issue critically, whether you can argue

logically, originality of your ideas, etc.); AND

2. The presentation of the report (e.g. how well you explain difficult

concepts and arguments, the coherence and clarity of the presentation,

the amount of spelling and grammatical errors, etc.).

 Only reports that demonstrate outstanding qualities in both criteria will be

awarded the highest grade. Reports that are unsatisfactory in any of the

criteria will result in a grade of “F”.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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APPENDIX

Writing Center

Proper grammar is required. If you fell you need help with your English writing

skills you are advised to use the University’s Center for Writing. They provide

free support for students who need help with writing. Go early and go often.

Here is their web address: http://writing.umn.edu

Writing techniques

The following are some common problems of students’ reports:

 The paper lacks focus and is not well organized. A major reason why this

happens is that students cannot decide on THE most important message

that they want the readers to get from the report. This leads to the

importance of a thesis statement – make sure it is included in the

introduction.

 There are not enough analyses and explanations in the report. Many times

students state some ideas or conjectures without explaining step by step the

logic behind these. Please guide the readers through your arguments

carefully to make sure that they understand the arguments.

 The use of quotations to substitute for the explanations. A common mistake

students make in their reports is that they use quotations from textbooks or

articles as the arguments. It is acceptable for students to use some ideas

suggested by others, yet students should try to explain the ideas in their

own words and should not simply copy the quotations without their own

explanations. The total number of quotations in a paper should be limited;

they should be used to highlight a particular idea or show its importance.

 A lot of grammatical and spelling errors in the report. To avoid these errors,

students should ask someone who is good in composition to proofread their

reports. Students should also use the many writing services available on

campus to get advice on correct grammar usage.

 Confusing cause with effect. Another common mistake is not recognizing

that an apparent cause of something might instead be an effect of that

something. You should give evidence of the cause or effect or acknowledge

that the evidence of causality here is not clear.

 Many students run into trouble realizing late in the semester that they don’t

have enough data to support their thesis, at which point it is too late to

change the topic. Make sure you plan ahead to avoid this situation.

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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Bibliography

 You should use various resources and cite them properly.

 You can use academic journals, popular newspapers (e.g., Wall Street

Journal), magazines (e.g. The Economist), and/or reports from various

institutions.

 Please make sure you have a mix of internet and other sources; make sure

the sources are well-reputed and credible; that is, do not chose all

references from news magazines or obscure internet sources.

 You can check here for tips on citing:

https://www.lib.umn.edu/howto/citationguides

Data Sources

 Penn World Table

 World Bank – World Development Indicators

 IMF – International Financial Statistics

 CIA – World Factbook

 WebEc: http://www.helsinki.fi/WebEc (Click on Economics Data and go on from

there)

Useful Reading

1. “So You Have To Write an Economics Term Paper…” by L. Officer, D.

Saks, and J. Saks.

2. “The Elements of Style” by W. Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.

3. “The Writer’s Guide to College Economics” by T. L. Wyrich.

4. “Economical Writing” by Deirdre McCloskey.

Scholastic Dishonesty

 Students must work on their reports individually.

 The College of Liberal Arts defines scholastic dishonesty as “any act that

violates the right of another student with respect to academic work or that

involves misrepresentation of a student’s own academic work. Scholastic

dishonesty includes (but is not limited to) cheating on assignments or

exams; plagiarizing (misrepresenting as one’s own anything done by

another); submitting the same or substantially similar papers for more than

one course without the consent of all instructors concerned; depriving

ECON 4331W:WRITING ASSIGNMENT SPRING 2018

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another of necessary course materials; or sabotaging another’s work.”

 Students who commit any form of the scholastic dishonesty described above

will receive a grade “F” for their Writing Assignment.

 Plagiarism: This involves passing off anyone else’s work as your own, and

includes copying a whole paper or parts of it and claiming it as your own

work. It also includes turning in your own same or essentially similar paper

for two or more courses. The University has very strict rules concerning

plagiarism. If you use any other person’s work, words, or ideas, please cite

and acknowledge the sources. Note that the University has purchased a

program that allows professors to check if any student paper, essay, or

research paper has been copied or paraphrased from the Internet. We will

use this program (Turnitin.com) to check for plagiarism. Please check the

following website for more details on plagiarism:

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