Outline Writing your paper is about directing your own learning on a specific subject. The expected outcome is for you to understand the subject in sufficient depth so as to be able to explain it to your audience (your peers and the economics faculty) in a clear, precise, structured and selfcontained manner. Note you are not writing for a general audience, but for a specialized one. Your writing should be of interest to your peers while it also demonstrates your competencies in economic thinking to the faculty. Thus, this writing assignment will serve to develop your skills of research and inquiry, including design and hypothesis formation, interpretation of data, information literacy, analysis, and communication. And you will have to think and reason like an economist. Your assignment can take the form of a monography, a survey or literature review, a case study, a report, a policy proposal, a position paper or some other format you propose. Whatever the format you choose, you must frame your subject within the field of Economics. The purpose of your written assignment must be to gain knowledge into a topic–and a specific issue within this topic– from an economics perspective. Please, find a non-exclusive list of possible topics for your perusal at the end of this document. Note this is a list of general topics; you must choose a concrete question or issue within each topic, the more specific the better. How to Proceed The Proposal stage is about discovery and examination of ideas. You will need to do active thinking and engage critically with your subject of choice. This is the phase where you are ‘figuring out’ and refining what you think before you proceed to communicate it in a more formal way (to be done in the First Draft and Final Version of your paper). These are the steps you should follow: 1. Identify topic within economics that interests you (or any topic that can be approached using economics) 2. Establish the purpose of your research 3. Undertake a background search 4. Identify a specific issue within the topic In step 1, you may start by thinking about a topic or an issue that you brushed upon in a class and you wished you had learned more about. Or something you read about in the news or social media that made you curious but you never had a chance to explore more in depth. Or about that ongoing discussion you have with a classmate or a friend that has never been settled, because neither one of you did serious research. This is your chance to do so. 2 In step 2, establish the reason for your research. Do you wish to summarize what is known about a topic and issue? To contribute to knowledge on a topic? To solve a problem/puzzle? To present the puzzle and its alternative solutions? To disentangle a confusing, little known or new subject? To weigh in on a debate? To defend a stance in a particular issue? To …? You may want to pose a question about your subject, determining what evidence is needed to answer the question, and collecting information and data that will allow you to answer the question, which takes us to the next step. In Step 3, do not rely solely on general internet searches to locate literature. A Wikipedia entry or an article you read in The New York Times or The Economist might be good sources of inspiration to choose a subject and think how to approach it, but you must make an effort to find more scholarly sources of information and reference (primary sources). That is, any source addressed to a general audience (secondary source) may be a great place to start, however, you must remember who your audience is and rely mostly on primary sources of research, i.e. technical studies and scholarly research, such as books, book chapters, edited volumes, and, especially (given the time available) journal articles, technical reports, and working papers. Sometimes you will find these primary sources too mathematical or too technical: do not focus on the details, but on the narrative and their contribution. 1 If you feel lost or are not sure how to approach your subject, it may be a good idea to consult (the relevant chapters of) a textbook on your subject; this will give you a good framework for reference and will point to all relevant connections to be taken into account. In Step 4, try to be as specific and concrete as possible in your choice of issue. This is important even if you have decided to do a literature survey: narrow down your subject. For example, if you are interested in ecosystem services, you may narrow it down to “Ecosystem services in the dry tropical forest.” Or you may decide to work on “Valuation of Ecosystem Services: Direct vs Indirect Methods.” Any of these will still require you to tell your audience about ecosystem services in general in your Literature or Background Review, but you will find that, by focusing on a narrower topic, your work becomes more directed and easier. Search Strategy Remember you can access any e-journal (for free) from Stony Brook Library using your account (consult the last section of your Syllabus). Use academic search engines such as Google Scholar, Ideas, and EconLit, where you will be able to access published articles as well as online working paper series such as the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and NetEc (http://netec.wustl.edu/NetEc.html). Use also JSTOR, a great repository of published scholarly papers, as well as Sciencedirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com), that has journals that JSTOR does not have and often up to the present issue.2 You can also search more general resource sites such as Resources for Economists (http://rfe.org). 1 If you are planning to do an empirical paper, do not attempt to collect your own data (primary data, not the same as primary source): it would be EXTREMELY costly in terms of resources, time, and effort. Hence, if you want to use data or econometric analysis, you will work with secondary data (not the same as secondary source) and/or the results obtained by other researchers. For more information on the distinction between primary and secondary sources of data, see https://www.thoughtco.com/secondary-source-research-1692076 2 I particularly recommend the Journal of Economic Literature and the Journal of Economic Perspectives; they usually have excellent surveys on specific topics. Browse through the Table of Contents (ToC) of the last few years. 3 I recommend you check the following link for sources of US and international data, statistics, reports, and commentary: https://library.law.yale.edu/news/75-sources-economic-data-statisticsreports-and-commentary. I have also added a brief list of sources of free data at the end of this document. Keep in mind multilateral or aid agencies such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank and others such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Eurostat, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), etc. are also excellent, sources of free (mostly policy-oriented) research and of a large variety of data sets to download and work with. You may also want to consult an instructor you know is a specialist in the area of your interest to guide you on your initial search for literature. And last, but by no means least, consult your librarian; they are specialists in where to look for sources of reliable information! When you find a document you think is relevant, browse its table of contents (ToC) if it is a book or its sections if it is an article, and look for useful information or references to useful information. If using a search engine, do a keyword search; start broad, with a topic, then narrow your search by using more specific words in your search phrases, You will see the more you learn about the topic, the more specific the words you think of. You may also choose to do a Boolean search to focus your search.3 When you find potentially helpful material, do some filtering: evaluate what is relevant, throw out what is irrelevant, work with what remains, and check for leads about other possible valuable resources. Purpose of a Proposal The purpose of writing a Proposal is to identify a working central idea, sketch out how you plan to develop it, and present it for approval and suggestions. Your Proposal should give you a sense of purpose and determine the focus and direction of your future work. Later, you will use your Proposal as the map or “scaffolding” on which you will develop content. In your Proposal, focus on coherence and structure. Always keep a tidy grammar and orthography and follow conventions for citation (see instructions below).

Artificial intelligence. What does it mean for occupation and the economy?
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