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IECO 400 Research Project Design

Literature review - what and why

Literature review is an evaluative report of the information you found. It has two functions:

  • You know the literature (or others’ work, previous arguments/discussion) and you guide the readers because some do not know your field very well.
  • Based on those papers, you tell the reader that your research is original, so link closely related papers to your contribution.

Locating Literature

First, do it in the old way: look for an appropriate handbook chapter. You might be lucky to find a recent handbook chapter in your field.

Second, find a meta analysis (paper reviewing major works in the field): some of them are published in Journal of Economic Perspectives but most are working papers available online.

How to locate these (or any) published or unpublished papers, use online search engines:

  1. Search backward and forward in time by citations.
  2. Try to find articles published in reputable journals as a start.
  3. Extend your literature search once you find a relevant paper or an author: Back to #1

Keep track of your work: Save papers on GU Box, and save citations online on Refworks, so that you can easily output them in a format you want

Write summary of each paper or review:

  1. What's the main hypothesis?
  2. What's the economic theory behind it?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the data used?
  4. What is the estimation /identification problem?
  5. What method(s) do the authors use to overcome this problem?
  6. Does the method overcome the problem? Why or why not?
  7. What are the findings?
  8. Link this paper to your own idea and build your argument upon this paper.