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IECO 400 Research Project Design

About IECO 400

In the  IECO 400 you will learn the skills and techniques needed for carrying out a substantive original research project and write a research paper in economics. Before writing a paper in economics, you need to have a valid research question.

  1. The question has to be original and interesting. Good questions are often a surprise or against your intuition or basic economic theories. Then you use a simple economic intuition (a basic theory) to explain why the question is intuitive and not a surprise. In this class, we call it “your theory”.
  2. The question has to be related to the literature as well. This means you need to know the literature first. Please look at the Literature tab for more information.
  3. Your question also has to be answerable and you will answer your question in your paper. Most of our students work on empirical papers, so you have to analyze some data sufficiently to convince the audience that you have answered the question academically. In other words, you have to prove your hypothesis with some data. That means you need to have some data related to your question. As a starter, please look at the Data tab here. Also, your advisors are a good source to ask once you have a well-defined question.

These three points sound simple but require a lot of effort and time. Ideally, we want you to have your question by the start of your senior year. If you are on the IECO Honors track, you should complete all of these three by the deadline that you apply for the Honors in the Spring semester of your junior year.

Once you have a well-defined question, we advise you to talk to your advisor at least bi-weekly and update your project with them and get constant feedback.

Finally, IECO 400 will teach you more methods to analyze the data so that you can answer your question more rigorously. It  will then focus on the writing and presenting the paper.  For more details on writing in economics, please take a look at the Writing in Economics tab.