Writing a research paper might be challenging, but it is also an essential and gratifying aspect of the academic profession. Economists write research papers to disseminate new findings, ideas, and theories which contribute to the advancement of the discipline. This blog describes the steps of preparing an economics research paper, from selecting a topic to finalising a draft. Whether you are a seasoned economist or a novice, following these steps will help you develop a well-written and persuasive research paper.
I. Choosing a research topic
The first essential step is to choose a timely and relevant question you would be interested in investigating. Consider the areas of economics that most intrigue you. Are you drawn to macroeconomic issues such as inflation and fiscal policy, or do you prefer to focus on microeconomic topics such as consumer behaviour and labor markets? Narrowing your focus to a particular subfield of economics will make it easier to find a research topic that is both feasible and meaningful. Please note that economics subfields overlap, and a single topic may require knowledge of multiple economics areas. After identifying an area of interest, the next step is to focus on a specific topic and narrow it down to a research question. Following the literature and academic conferences would enable you to keep up to date with new directions in your preferred area. Reading professional newspapers such as The Financial Times, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal could help identify the most pressing policy questions. It is crucial to ensure that your research question is not only relevant but also viable. The feasibility of a given research question hinges on many constraints, including timeframe, expected output, and available data.
II. Reviewing the literature
This step involves identifying, evaluating, and synthesising relevant research papers to provide context for your research and its contribution to existing knowledge. A thorough search for relevant work would cover several sources, including Google Scholar and databases such as JSTOR and EconLit. You should be selective when deciding which papers to include in your literature review, focusing on high-quality research published in credible journals. Next, you will need to synthesise various sources and further develop the research question. This process may involve categorizing related research into topics or categories, highlighting agreement and disagreement areas, and identifying study gaps. The literature review should provide a story of existing work in the context of your research. This step would help you further develop your research question. A well-crafted research topic is clearly defined, testable, and provides clear direction for the remainder of the research process.
III. Choosing an appropriate methodology
Several methodological approaches can be used in economics research, including experiments, surveys, case studies, and econometric analysis. Which one would be appropriate will depend on the research question and the data available. You can collect data from various sources but it must be reliable and relevant to your research question. International organisations such as the World Bank and IMF publish data for all countries. It is paramount to ensure that your empirical method effectively answers your research question, permitting reliable inferences from the data. Additionally, it is essential to consider and address any potential limitations in your chosen approach.
IV. Drafting your paper
Once you have finished the data analysis, it is time to put everything together in a draft paper. The traditional format for an economics research paper includes an introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. The introduction should summarize the research topic and purpose, giving a context for the investigation by describing relevant prior research. The conclusion of the introduction should clarify the research question under investigation and the paper's contribution. The findings should be presented in a clear and organized manner, with tables, graphs, and other visual aids to help illustrate the findings. The discussion section should interpret the results and discuss their implications along with any limitations and implications for future research. It is crucial to provide a clear and concise interpretation of the results and to relate them to the research question. The conclusion should be concise, summarising the main findings, discussing their implications, and highlighting the paper's contributions. It should be brief and should not introduce any new information.
V. Editing and proofreading
Editing and proofreading your paper ensures that it is clear, well-organized, and free of errors. You should utilize a grammar and spelling checker, pay close attention to details such as verb tense and subject-verb agreement, and thoroughly examine all tables and figures. You may also want to ensure that the paper adheres to any formatting guidelines of the journal or conference to which you plan to submit your work, including font size, margins, and citation style.
Finally, to summarize and conclude this post, writing a research paper is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. You can create a well-written and impactful research paper by following the steps outlined in this short blog. These steps include choosing a research topic, reviewing the literature, choosing an appropriate research methodology, drafting the paper, and editing and proofreading. Following these guidelines could help you become an expert in writing economics research papers.