Economics 324 Spring 2016
Seminar in Environmental and Natural Resource
will complete a research paper on a topic of your choosing related to
environmental and resource economics.
examines key issues in the economics of the environment and natural resources.
Stu- dents must have successfully completed Intermediate Microeconomics (ECO
250) and Introduc- tion to Statistics and Econometrics (ECO 220) or equivalent
courses. A course covering environ- mental or other applied microeconomic
policy issues would be helpful.
has two primary objectives. First, the course is designed to familiarize you
with some of the current research in the field of environmental economics and
to teach you to digest and critically evaluate original economic research
articles in the field. Second, the course is designed to teach you to conduct
your own economic research through the preparation of a major research paper.
recommend that your paper follow one of three models:
analytical paper that uses economic theory to answer a specific question.
If you choose this model, you will need to articulate a narrative economic
model of some real world situa- tion and use your model to analyze that
situation. Your question can be explanatory (why is some particular
phenomenon occuring?), predictive (what will happen as the result of some
change?), or prescriptive (what should someone (often a policymaker) do in
a particular situation?).
paper that uses statistical analysis to answer a specific question. If you
choose this model, you will need to articulate a specific question,
identify data that can be used to answer the question, analyze the data
using appropriate statistical techniques, and present your conclusions.
valuation study proposal that develops a specific study design to value a
particular envi- ronmental amenity. If you choose this model, you will need to
select a valuation method that is appropriate to the benefit you wish to
estimate and develop all the details needed to implement the study, from survey
design to data analysis. Depending on your specific ques- tion and approach,
you may not need to actually implement the survey during the semester, although
if you would like to do so, it is possible if you select your topic and start
the process early.
are a couple other paper approaches that you could consider including a benefit
transfer study (where benefits estimates from one study and location are used
to estimate benefits in a different region) or a cost-benefit analysis. If you
are interested in adopting one of these approaches or have another idea, please
come talk to me early in the semester so we can make sure that your idea is
feasible and consistent with the assignment guidelines.
paper should be 3500-4500 words (15-20 pages double-spaced). There is no
explicit length target for the draft, but to get a good grade, it must include:
a research question, some findings, and all of the relevant elements of the
main body of whatever type of paper you have chosen. The standard for how
polished they need to be is lower on the draft, but you do not have a complete
draft if you have entirely omitted one of these elements (with the caveat that some
final papers will have a somewhat different structure than described below).
the use of the first person (I) in your paper, but do not feel that you need to
eliminate it entirely. SayingâI find …âorâI use data on …âor
âI assumeâis perfectly acceptable. Avoid the use of phrases likeâI
thinkâor âI believe.âBetter alternatives would beâMy analysis
suggests …âorâmy results support …â
the âroyalâ we while writing. That is, since your papers are single-authored,
avoid the use of phrases likeâWe use data on ….â. It is okay to use
âweâ when it is clear that the reference is to you and your reader as inâBecause
economic theory predicts that monopolists will restrict quantity to raise
price, we would expect to see higher prices on average in locations served by a
your paper. Please make use of your softwareâs automated spell-checker AND its
grammar checker if it has one. Please consider having someone else read your
paper before handing it in (this is especially true if you are a non-native
English speaker). Make sure you do this for the draft as well.
your paper to your classmates rather than me. That is, make sure you explain
the important parts of the economic theory you use to someone who is familiar
with standard undergraduate economic theory and has had exposure to some of the
basic ideas we have discussed in class, but do not expect your reader to be
familiar with all of the papers you cite or to remember the specific details of
a paper we discussed in class.
parenthetical citations in your paper and use the present tense when discussing
other papers:Galiani et al (2005) find that privatization was associated
with reductions in child mortality in ArgentinaorInstitutional details
can strongly influence the effectiveness of water markets (Bjornlund and McKay,
2000). Do not list first names or article titles in the text of the
document unless there is something specific about those that is important to
your paper. Use a consistent citation style for your references that refers to
papers by author and date rather than numerical references. I am not picky
about the precise citation style, but please check the format for non-standard
entries if you are using bibliographic software to generate your references. (A
tip: Google scholar does a nice job of formattingmostreferences in
several standard formats if you assemble your bibliography manually).
standard practice on citing your sources. I take academic honesty very
seriously and will report plagiarism on either the draft or the final paper to
the Honor Board. Re- member that ultimate goal of citation/attributtion: to
make sure your reader knows what arguments/ideas are yours, which ones came
from someone else, and who the source of those other arguments was.
taken directly from any source needs to be in quotation marks. Arguments or
statements that are paraphrased from other sources must be cited as well. In
most cases, you will have few if any direct quotations in your papers. You
should cite sources for specific theories or models that you rely on but do not
need to cite sources for standard economic theories. Please ask if you are
unsure whether a theory/model needs to be cited, but a general rule of the
thumb is that if something appears in textbooks without specific citations, you
can assume the basic idea is common economic knowledge and does not need to be
cited.When in doubt, cite the source or ask me.
structure your paper will take depends on your specific question and approach,
but most will follow one of the two patterns below at least loosely. You do not
have to structure your paper with each of these elements having its own
subheading, but having this general format in mind will likely help you make
sure you explain all the important parts of your analysis to your audience.
Feel free to modify as you see fit. Remember that the ultimate goal is to
answer your research question and convince your readers (me and your
classmates) that we should believe your answer. Everything should be structured
with that in mind.
should write it last (or at least near the end), your paper will begin with an
abstract. As youâve seen from the journal papers weâve read, the abstract is a
short, consice statement of what the paper does and what the key results are.
Do not keep your reader in suspense. Aim for 100-200 words (less is better) and
do not include more than one short sentence motivating your topic or setting it
abstract, the introduction goes near the beginning of the paper, but it is
often difficult to craft a good introduction until you have completed much of
the research. Plan to substantially revise your introduction once you have
completed the body of the paper and are sure of what your main points are. The
introduction (outside of the literature review which may be included in it)
should be no more than two pages double spaced and should answer the following questions:
methods are you using to answer the question? You do not need to get into too
much detail in the introduction, but we should have a rough sense of what your
approach will be by the time we finish the introduction.
data or evidence are you using to answer your question (if applicable)?
are your key findings/recommendations? An economics paper isnât a mystery
novel. Tell us your basic results in brief form up front so we can be assessing
how you build to this conclusion throughout the entire paper.Note that in
comparing this paper to the typical paper structure taught in writing courses,
the answer to this question serves as the thesis of your paper. Everything you
do in the paper should be designed to convince us that we should believe these
findings and any recommendations you make.
â¢ At very end
of the introduction, include a paragraph describing the contents of the rest of
Review The literature review portion of the paper may be part of the
introduction or a separate section, depending on what makes the most sense to
you. Your literature review should be clearly focused on putting your work in
context. You should regularly connect the papers back to your research
question. Questions/themes that may appear in your review include a discussion
of related themes/trends in the literature, areas of agreement/disagreement in
previous papers, areas that have been heavily researched and those that need
additional study, the degree of support for your hypothesis in the existing
literature, and a discussion of how your research fits into the existing
literature should be comprehensive, but not necessarily exhaustive. It does
need to cover everything ever written that relates to your topic, but should be
up-to-date and should provide the intellectual context and motivation for your
research. It helps your reader to know how what youâve done relates to previous
work and what is new and helps to motivate why this study is important. With
this in mind, your should discuss some or all of the following:
development of the methodology, framework, or model that you are using in your
analysis. If your paper will apply an existing model/approach/technique
(commonly the case), you should cite the original papers that developed the
technique and recent notable examples of its application. Many of you may
follow an existing paperâs approach quite closely. This paper should be
discussed in detail in your review. If you are developing a new methdology,
framework or model (less common), you should discuss papers that used similar
models and identify what your model will add (in general terms, save the
specifics for your model section).
Common examples would be a paper that applies the same technique to a different
specific problem, papers that answer the same question in a different location,
papers that address the same question with a different technique/data, and
papers that address a closely related question.
whose results motivate your question
whose results will justify or explain any important assumptions you make in
Body of an Analytical Paper
you may find it more natural to organize the body of your paper in a different
fashion, but be sure you are internally clear about the three different types
of tasks described here.
section, you should develop a narrative model of the economic situ- ation your
paper is discussing. You should focus on identifying whose choices drive the
outcomes you are concerned about and developing an economic story explaining
how those decisions are made. You may want to use graphs or equations in this
portion of your paper but are not required to. In developing this model/story,
focus on your classmates as the target audience. Your model should clearly
identify why there is a problem that might need to be solved.
Policies/Changes in Your Model In this section, you should use your narrative
model to predict how various policies or changes you consider will impact the
choices described above and how this will alter the outcomes of interest. In
this section, you should focus on what we call positive analysis of the
policies/changes. In other words, predict the effects but save most value
judgements about these effects for your argument.
Using the mechanics developed in the previous two sections, you should make an
argument/recommendation. You are free to use any criteria you feel are
appropriate in identifying the policy you recommend, but you will also need to
justify and explain to your audience why the criteria you have selected are
of an Empirical Paper
Story In this section, you should give us a rough economic story about whatâs
going on your analysis? This will not be as developed as the model in an
analytical paper but you should still develop some economic motivation here.
You may find it useful to refer back to some of the empirical papers we have
read in class.
Data In this
section, you will describe the source of your data and provide various summary
statistics about the data. You want to discuss any data issues and any
adjustments you had to make in the this section. You may also be able to
motivate your main story with a simple comparison in this section.
Model In this section you will describe your regression model, explain the
underlying assumptions you are making and talk about how the regression results
will help you answer your question.
this section (which you may decide to combine with the previous one), you will
present and discuss your results. You do not need to discuss every number in
your results, but should talk about the key messages to take away from the
results. Format your result tables to be relatively easy to read by using a
reasonable number of decimal places based on the data and making it easy for
your readers to identify which coefficients are statistically significant.
& Conclusion (for any type of paper)
(likely brief) section, you will discuss the implications of your analysis and
briefly reiterate the main point. Unlike the mystery novel approach to writing,
there shouldnât be any major sur- prises here. If youâve done your job well in
the previous sections, the summary/conclusion aspect of this section will be
exactly what your reader expects. In the discussion portion, you should mention
any important caveats or qualifications to your analysis. You may also want to
suggest directions for further research or analysis. You may also want to talk
about broader implications of your results.
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