The purpose of the paper: This provides an alternative way for you to demonstrate your understanding of the tools of economic analysis covered in this course, as applied to a current public policy issue involving market power or other topics related to the course. This includes environmental economics in chapter 17 of the book, which we wonâ€™t be able to spend much time on and may not get to at all. The topic is your choice, but choose something of interest to you! If you are analyzing a subject about which you are interested and enthusiastic, this will show through in the product you prepare and in the impression it will make on the reviewer. The key elements are that you: (a) demonstrate familiarity with one or more concepts learned in this course; (b) focus your analysis on a real-life issue or problem; (c) use the Internet for part or all of the research materials used; and (d) produce a paper that employs sound reasoning andanalysis, and is well-written and presented.
Use of the Web for Research Materials The Internet is an exceptionally rich and convenient source of information, reports, data, and descriptions of economic problems and policies. I have posted (and will post, as the class proceeds) links on the class web site to media coverage of topics relevant to the class, such as market power; reducing its effects; labor, factor, and natural resource markets; and other topics as well. All of these topics are suitable subjects for the class paper. You should have at least one Web reference for material used in your paper, and good papers will have several or many. Note: you must fully acknowledge and cite sources you use from the internet. It is not appropriate to cut and paste things you find in your searches into the paper you write without attribution â€“ that is plagiarism, and will cause you to be referred to Student Judicial Affairs for a violation of the Universityâ€™s academic honesty policy.
Considerations in Preparing Your Paper Your paper, if done well, can serve purposes beyond the class itself. Many employers like to see samples of job candidates’ writing and research skills, and this paper is an opportunity to prepare just such an example of your work. A paper involving data analysis can be especially impressive. Plus, if you write a really good paper, it may end up being one of those â€œGood Examplesâ€ I use to illustrate for future classes how the class paper can be done well. Some issues to consider as you develop a topic and an analysis are: 1) What is the question motivating my analysis? Your introduction should concisely give the context for your analysis, describing the problem or issue you wish to discuss. What’s wrong with things currently? How is the problem seen in behavior we observe in the world around us? How does this compare with what would be ideal? For example, oligopoly frequently results in higher prices to consumers and inefficiency, compared to more competitive market arrangements. 2) What are the key factors or incentives causing the problem, and how can they be improved by new or different policies? Presumably firms are acting to choose what’s best for them in light of the incentives they face. To the extent that this leads to undesirable behavior or market outcomes, how can policy change the incentives so the problem does not occur or is reduced? 3) Can I evaluate the tradeoffs that are explicit or implicit in the issue Iâ€™m studying? A useful way to demonstrate your knowledge of the economic tools from the class is to use one or more of the simple models and analytical frameworks seen in class. An analytical framework
(graphical, algebraic,orâ€”ifcarefullyreasonedâ€”simplyverbal)providesastructureandaway of making predictions about what is happening now, and what might change if you change incentives or policies.4)Can data, even simple and illustrative, be brought to bear on the problem? To get a sense of the magnitudes of the effects of a policy on different groups, it is often helpful to get some numbers into the analysis, in tables, graphs, and as part of the text. While not strictly required, it is often very illustrative to find some ways to describe the magnitudes of the values or costs involved in the problem. While you probably won’t find marginal cost or marginal value relationships directly, many public agencies such as the US Departments of Justice and Commerce have literally hundreds of economics reports and analyses that can be accessed via the web. Also, popular media such as newspapers, magazines, or library books and journals frequently have articles on imperfect competition problems that include tables and graphs, with numbers that describe the overall magnitude of the problem being discussed.Writing Your Papera)Communicate well using correct English. The reader may not be knowledgeable about your specificproblemsobriefhimorheraboutit.Thereaderwillbeacollegegraduatewithsomefamiliarity with the issues and will prefer convincing, objective discussion.b)Be rigorous in your thinking and analysis. Reason carefully, logically, and completely, as you tell the story of the behavior you wish to explain and your approach to explaining it. Supportyour contentionswith appropriatefactsandcitationstoauthorities. Demonstrateyourownoriginalthought processrather than simply repeating what someone else has said.c)Organize your paper in a logical sequence. Motivate the analysis by setting the stage for it intheIntroduction.Whyisthisaninterestingproblemorissue?Movetoadescriptionofyourmethods–what is your approach to analyzing the problem? Then discuss your results-what are your findings? Conclude bysummarizingwhatyou’vefound,theimplications,furtherdirectionsforanalysis, and qualifications. Be sure to own up to deficiencies, simplifications, and other factors you might have liked to, but couldn’t, analyze.d)Use tables and graphs effectively. Make each graph and chart self-contained with a clear title, needed explanatory footnotes, source references, etc. Items in the main body of the reports should have a title, Table or Figure number, and should be relevant to the text. They should also be introduced inthe text at the point in your argument where you want to refer to the information in the figure/graph; e.g., â€œFigure 4 shows that…â€Other tables or figures that support your argument, but arenâ€™t necessarily a central part, go in the appendix. Tie these tables into the text by referring to the information in the tables as you explain your argument or interpret your results.e)Bethoroughbutconcise.Anappropriatelengthis1,000-2,000words(5-10double-spaced typewritten pages) for the discussion portion of most reportsâ€”excluding tables, charts, etc. In some cases, a shorter or longer paper may be more appropriate. Donâ€™t just stick in filler material that doesnâ€™t tie in with what youâ€™re arguingâ€”itâ€™s readily apparent to a careful reader, and not viewed favorably. Similarly, tables and figures repeatedly lifted from other sources (even with proper attribution) are less impressive than those you prepare yourself.f)Present your paper well. Take the time to ensure that the paper looks good visually. Attention to detail in how your material is presented conveys an impression about the overall care taken with other aspects of the research. More than one student in the past has used their class paper as a sample of their writing and analytical skills in employment interviews. Take the time to do and present your work well, and it can serve purposes beyond just this class.g)Other Points to consider.i)Your paper deserves a creative title. Be more imaginative than â€œARE 100BProjectâ€ or â€œIndividual Report.â€ Make the title short, representative, and interesting. ii) Prepare a list of references used in your research. As noted above, this must contain
at least one citation of a web page. Include the URL for the page, along with author and title of the page. For printed materials, use standard bibliographic practices