ECON 4260/8296; MIB 8210

Research Methods in Economics and Business

Fall 1999

 

 

Arthur Diamond

Office: CBA 512E

Office Phone: 554-3657

Internet address: adiamond@unomaha.edu

World Wide Web home page:

http://cba.unomaha.edu/faculty/adiamond/web/diahompg.htm

 

 

3 Page Research Proposal

The research proposal is intended as a very early rough draft for your longer term paper. The proposal should consist of a title page, a core section of 3 pages, endnotes (if necessary) starting on a separate page, and a bibliography, starting on a separate page.

The core section of the proposal should start with an Introduction that sets out you topic, reviews the important literature on our topic, and states your preliminary hypothesis (or hypotheses). The next section of the core of the proposal should be a Data section that describes the variables that you will use, whether the data are time-series or cross-sectional, and what the source (or sources) of your data is. The final section of the proposal should deal with the expected form of your Regression (or regressions), clearly stating what your dependent variable is and what are your likely independent variables. (You do not need to include an abstract in the proposal, although you will need to include one in the final paper.)

The proposal should be written to be understandable by an attentive beginning graduate student in economics or business.

The title page of your proposal should include the title of your topic, your name, the course number, the name of the course, the name of the instructor and the date on which the paper is turned in. Every page in the proposal, after the title page, should be consecutively numbered. After the title page, the whole rest of the proposal should be double-spaced and should have inch and a half margins on the top, bottom, right and left. The font size should either be 10 point or 12 point in size. Please do not put your paper in a special binder that would limit the space for my comments. Instead, use some type of paper clip to clip it together.

Endnotes should be used only if really necessary. When a source is used in the text, internal references should be given in the text that consist of a parenthetical mention of the author' s last name, the date of the publication and a specific page number (if appropriate). For each brief parenthetical reference, a complete bibliographic reference should be provided in the Bibliography (that is not counted in the page limit). For bibliography form, use the sample bibliography provided at the end of this handout. For issues not covered in the sample bibliography, use style form A as discussed in The Chicago Manual of Style (e.g., see section 16.5 in the 13th edition). The ultimate arbiter for reference format is The Chicago Manual of Style.

Before you turn in your final draft, be sure to submit it to a spell-checking program (available with all major word-processing programs). Do not forget that "data" is the plural of "datum, " and so should appear, e.g., as "data are" rather than "data is."

As you work on the text of your paper, be sure to periodically backup your latest draft onto a floppy disk. Also be sure to keep a clean copy of your paper for your files-the copy you turn in to me will be marked-up in red ink.

The following is a rough outline of the "core" sections of the proposal (those that count toward the three pages.)

1. Introduction. Describe your topic. Say why it matters. Summarize previous research on the topic. Clearly state your hypotheses. This would be a good place to mention the contents of any broadly relevant articles that you turned up in your EconLit, UNCOVER and ABI-Inform searches on your topic. If there is no relevant material in EconLit, UNCOVER or ABI-Inform for your topic, mention the absence of relevant material (and include in the appendix, a list of the keywords that you used to search under and the articles that resulted). (That is, it would be very unusual to have no relevant articles appear, so if you claim that there are none, the burden of proof is on you.) Briefly (in a few sentences) summarize what you will be doing in the rest of the paper.

  1. Data. Describe the variables that you think should be included in your regressions. Describe those for which you were able to obtain information. (If you do not include some of the standard variables for your topic (e.g., if you were estimating a demand function, it would be standard to include as independent variables: price, income, population, prices of substitutes and complements), you should give some explanation of why they are absent. If you do include any non-standard variables, provide a brief explanation of their inclusion.) Describe and reference the sources for each of your variable series.
  2. Regressions. Describe the regression (or regressions) you plan to estimate, being sure to clearly state your expected dependent variable (or variables) and your independent variables. State which coefficients you expect to be positive, which you expect to be negative, and which you think might turn out either way.
  3.  

    13-18 Page Research Paper

    The paper should be written to be understandable by an attentive beginning graduate student in economics or business. That means you should assume that you are writing for someone who is intelligent, interested, short on time, and does not have a deep knowledge of regression techniques. In practice, this implies that you should very briefly explain the meaning of the statistical techniques and tests that you use. E.g., the first time that you mention "R-squared," mention, as well, that it is a common measure of the goodness-of-fit of the model to the data.

    The "core" sections of the paper should sum to 13-18 pages. Endnotes (if necessary) should start on a separate page immediately following the core sections of the paper, and a bibliography, also starting on a separate page, should be at the very end of the paper.

    The paper should have a title page including the title, your name, the course number, the name of the course, the instructor’s name and the date on which the paper is turned in. Following the title page, on a separate page should be a 100 word abstract. Neither the title page nor the abstract page counts toward the page limit of the paper. Pages in the body of the text (beginning with the Introduction) should be consecutively numbered. The text of the paper, including the abstract, should be double-spaced and should have inch and a half margins on the top, bottom, right and left. The font size should either be 10 point or 12 point in size. Please do not put your paper in a special binder that would limit the space for my comments. Instead, use some type of paper clip to clip it together.

    Endnotes should be used only if really necessary. When a source is used in the text, internal references should be given in the text that consist of a parenthetical mention of the author' s last name, the date of the publication and a specific page number (if appropriate). For each brief parenthetical reference, a complete bibliographic reference should be provided in the Bibliography (that is not counted in the page limit). For bibliography form, use the sample bibliography provided later in this syllabus. For issues not covered in the sample bibliography, use style form A as discussed in The Chicago Manual of Style (e.g., see section 16.5 in the 13th edition). The ultimate arbiter for reference format is The Chicago Manual of Style.

    Before you turn in your final draft, be sure to submit it to a spell-checking program (available with all major word-processing programs). Do not forget that "data" is the plural of "datum, " and so should appear, e.g., as "data are" rather than "data is."

    As you work on the text of your paper, be sure to periodically backup your latest draft onto a floppy disk. Also be sure to keep a clean copy of your paper for your files-the copy you turn in to me will be marked-up in red ink.

    You should append to the paper (not included in the page limit) print-outs of your output for: Eviews, SAS on Windows, and SHAZAM. If you run many versions of your regression, you do not have to show me all three platforms for all regressions. Be sure to include a copy of your SAS program, and the SAS output that provides you the descriptive statistics of your data set, and the output from the regressions that you estimate.

    If you estimated a large number of regressions, you do not need to attach print-outs of all of them. But at a bare minimum, you should attach the print-outs for your "best" regression. The print-outs should not be edited by you.

    The following is a rough outline of the "core" sections of the paper (those that count in the 18 page "limit").

    1. Introduction. Describe your topic. Say why it matters. Summarize previous research on the topic. Clearly state your hypotheses. This would be a good place to mention the contents of any broadly relevant articles that you turned up in your EconLit, UNCOVER and ABI-Inform searches on your topic. If there is no relevant material in EconLit, UNCOVER or ABI-Inform for your topic, mention the absence of relevant material (and include in the appendix, a list of the keywords that you used to search under and the articles that resulted). (That is, it would be very unusual to have no relevant articles appear, so if you claim that there are none, the burden of proof is on you.) Briefly (in a few sentences) summarize what you will be doing in the rest of the paper.

  4. Data. Describe the variables that you think should be included in your regressions. Describe those for which you were able to obtain information. (If you do not include some of the standard variables for your topic (e.g., if you were estimating a demand function, it would be standard to include as independent variables: price, income, population, prices of substitutes and complements), you should give some explanation of why they are absent. If you do include any non-standard variables, provide a brief explanation of their inclusion.) Describe and reference the sources for each of your variable series. Describe any special techniques that you had to use to make variables comparable (such as interpolating values into annual data to make the variables comparable to quarterly data). Describe the technique used to transform variables reported in nominal dollars into variables reported in real dollars. State the base year for comparison of the real dollars and the price index used for the transformation (e.g., most commonly the Consumer Price Index is used). This could be stated in terms such as: "all money variables are reported in constant 19?? dollars" (where you fill in the ?? as appropriate). Be sure to provide a reference for your source for the CPI (or other index used).

3. Table of Descriptive Statistics. For each basic variable used in the analysis (i.e., not the log transformations), include information on: the number of observations for which data was available, the mean value and the standard deviation. If you have space you may also include other relevant statistics, such as the minimum and maximum values. For most variables three significant digits to the right of the decimal point is sufficient. More digits usually add clutter without adding useful information.

4. Regressions. Describe the regressions you estimated. Discuss which ones have the best "goodness of fit" as measured by the adjusted R-squared. If you are using time-series data, report the Durbin-Watson statistic and indicate whether autocorrelation is a problem. If autocorrelation is a problem, then re-estimate the regression using PROC AUTOREG. Are the signs of your coefficients what you expected, and do they make sense? Discuss differences in the signs and significance of variables in various regressions. What is your "best" regression? (Do not forget to include the log-linear functional form as one of the contenders for "best" regression.)

5. Table of Regressions. For most papers, at a minimum, you should include linear and log-linear functional forms. (Note 1: in economics any reference to "logs" always means "natural logs".) (Note 2: If any of your variables ever have a value of zero, you will need to use an IF-THEN statement in order to handle the problem that you cannot take the log of zero-I will explain how to do this if any of you need this.) Somewhere in the title or the body of the table or a footnote, indicate what the dependent variable was. For each independent variable used in the regressions report the coefficient value and the t-statistic for the regression. (Please note: the "t" in t-statistic is not capitalized.) It is redundant and wastes space to include both standard errors and t-statistics. Usually t-statistics are preferred. Put an asterisk or star (*) next to every coefficient value that is significant at the .05 level (unless they are all significant, in which case the asterisks would not be useful). The convention is to put the star to the right of the coefficient number (not next to the coefficient name or the t-statistic.) For each regression report the number of observations, the Durbin-Watson statistic (if relevant), the R squared and the adjusted R squared. For most coefficient estimates and t-statistics, three significant digits to the right of the decimal point is sufficient. More digits usually add clutter without adding useful information.

  1. Conclusions and future work. Summarize your conclusions, discuss the failings of your paper, and describe how you would improve it if you could work on it longer.

Heading

Some Criteria

Points

Follow directions

Spacing, fonts, bibliography format, inclusion of raw data and raw regressions in appendix, etc.

10

Style

Follows McCloskey

10

Introduction

Evidence of literature search, . . .

10

Data section

Reasonable variables, use of CPI, . . .

15

Descriptive Statistics Table

Clear and informative

5

Regressions

Estimates all regressions; picks best using appropriate criteria; checked for autocorrelation (if time-series data); estimated log-linear

25

Regression Table

Reports those requested; clear presentation

5

Conclusions

Summarize your conclusions, discuss the failings of your paper, sketch how you would improve it if you would work on it longer.

10

Creativity and difficulty

Points for exhibiting creativity, thoughtfulness, or for having a difficult topic

10

TOTAL POINTS

 

100.00

 

SOURCES OF DATA

The following information may be useful to supplement data sources demonstrated in class, such as NLS, Citibase, and the Penn World Tables.

 

NU ONRAMP

My understanding is that the main (only?) way to access NU Onramp data is now over the web. The current URL for the site is:

http://www.bbr.unl.edu/onramp/ACCESS.html

 

The following is excerpted and adapted from Laura Dickson's article "NU ONRAMP: Statistics and More" The Library User 15, no. 3 (Spring 1995): 3:

Onramp contains a wealth of information and statistics about Nebraska. The Onramp includes population, housing, personal income, and other demographic and economic statistics. For further information contact the UNO Business Reference Librarian, Laura Dickson (554-2217 or dickson@unomaha.edu).

 

 

Business in Nebraska

Bureau of Business Research

200 CBA

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Lincoln, NE 68588-0406

Labor Data

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Handbook of Labor Statistics.

General Data

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1989. (109th edition.) Washington, DC, 1989.

 

For Estimating Demand Functions

Various versions of Predicasts are often useful for estimating demand functions. (The call number for one version is HA 214 .P73.)

The following sample bibliography is intended to illustrate the required reference format for several different kinds of publications.

REQUIRED FORM FOR BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

Ackermann, Robert John. Data, Instruments and Theory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Acs, Zoltan J., David B. Audretsch and Maryann P. Feldman. "Real Effects of Academic Research: Comment." The American Economic Review 82, no. 1 (March 1992): 363-367.

Adams, James D. "Fundamental Stocks of Knowledge and Productivity Growth." Journal of Political Economy 98, no. 4 (August 1990): 673-702.

Alchian, Armen A. "Private Property and the Relative Cost of Tenure." In Economic Forces at Work. Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1977 (essay originally published in 1958).

American Chemical Society. Directory of Graduate Research 1989. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1989.

Becker, William E., Jr. "Maintaining Faculty Vitality through Collective Bargaining." In Clark, Shirley M. and Lewis, Darrell R., eds. Faculty Vitality and Institutional Productivity: Critical Perspectives for Higher Education. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College Press, 1985, pp. 198-223.

Davis, Elizabeth. "Compensation Gains of Faculty Unions and the Unemployment Effect of Extending Unemployment Insurance Coverage." (PhD Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1988).

Diamond, Arthur M., Jr. "Age and the Acceptance of Cliometrics." The Journal of Economic History 40, no. 4 (December 1980): 838-841.

. "The Career Consequences of Accepting a Scientific Mistake." working paper, 1992.

Friedman, Milton. "An Open Letter for Grants." Newsweek (May 18, 1981): 99.

Garfield, Eugene, (chairman). Science Citation Index. Philadelphia: Institute for Scientific Information, Inc., 1961-present.

Lucas, Robert E., Jr. "Incentives for Ideas." New York Times (April 13, 1981): 23.