Your research

Your research paper will be a cornerstone of your work in EC465 this semester. I look forward to being engaged with you during this process of conceiving and crafting an excellent piece of work.  For those of you who are IPE majors, your paper must be on an appropriate international topic.

Here are the deadlines for your paper:

  • Week 2 – paper proposal (Wednesday, February 24)
  • Week 4 – review of two journal articles (Wednesday, March 9)
  • Week 9 – draft of paper (Monday, April 17)
  • Week 10 – peer review due (Monday, April 25)
  • Week 11 – final draft due – (Monday, May 2)
  • Weeks 11 and 12 – paper presentations

Here are some guidelines for the paper:

  • Select a specific question related to one of the broad topics we are treating in class. The question should be clear and well-defined.  For example, “How do social norms affect the delivery of clean water in communities in rural Indonesia?”
  • Your analysis of such a question should demonstrate your excellence in applying a specific aspect of economic theory to an environmental problem.  So at least one of the theories that we tackle in class — of common property resources, externalities, or sustainable development, to name three — should be a prominent part of the first part of your paper.
  • Your analysis should also demonstrate your excellence in assessing the potential (or actual) policy solutions.
  • Clear use of illustrative graphs and/or of illustrative equations is required.
  • Clear analysis of relevant data with statistical tools is strongly encouraged, but is not required.
  • Without placing you in too tight of a bind, a well-organized paper might proceed as follows:

1.   Introduction of the question: Introduce the question; offer a brief, persuasive explanation as to why your question is interesting; and present an overview of the paper’s organization.

2.   Presentation of the background of the question: Introduce the reader to the background of the question and to how it has been addressed (if at all) by others.  So for example, in the first question above, define ‘forest certification’ and then detail its current level of acceptance among companies and consumers in the wood forest industry.  Most of your citations of others’ work should be in this section.

3.   Application of environmental theory to the question:  Use the elements of a theory to unpackage and explain the implications of your question.  So, again with the first question above, address how certification would increase costs for these companies (thereby shifting supply), might shift demand for their products (why might this be? In what direction?), and what this might do to their revenues and profits (what would the answer here critically depend on?).

4.   Analysis of the current (or potential) policy solutions that are germane to your question: If you are considering a current problem which has yet to be attacked with policy, lay out a clear, detailed, and realistic set of policy recommendations.  By contrast, if you are considering a current problem which has already been attacked with policy, use the same kind of rigor to evaluate the success, failures and possible improvements of the policy.

5.   Conclusion: a punchy last page or two which summarizes your work and (briefly) considers ancillary implications and/or potential extensions.

(If you use graphs or equations, they would most likely appear in sections 2 or 3; if you analyze data, your analysis could realistically come in sections 3 or 4–or perhaps in a separate section.)

  • The paper should be typed in double space, no more than 25 pages of text.  The text should be followed by: a bibliography; supporting graphs (where applicable); and supporting tables (where applicable).

Please let me know, throughout this thirteen-week process, if you have questions or concerns.


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