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: 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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