To my knowledge there is no detailed written guide for undergraduate research in economics for students and professors. My hope is that this work and the conversation it sparks will help to create a guide! This guide from Reed College is a good starting place for students, but I wanted to go a little more in-depth for students and include advice for faculty. If you know of other guides please let me know and I will post them.
As of early April I have a rough draft of roughly two-thirds of this guide and since I plan to present the guide at the Conference on Teaching Research in Economic Education at the end of May, I’m hoping this series of posts will serve as a commitment device to finishing a draft by Mid-May.
I will post a couple of sections a week and the ones I have available to share are linked below.
Choosing a Project and a Research Partner
(1) should you do an undergraduate research project?
(for students and for faculty)
(2) preparation including course work
(3) choosing a research partner (for students and for faculty)
(4) Choosing a topic for undergraduate economic research (link)
(5) approaching a professor (link)
How to start once a professor and student have matched
(6) writing an agreement and a timeline (link)
(7) how to have a productive meeting
(8) reviewing the literature
(9) obtaining data
(10) data cleaning
(11) doing econometrics
Writing and Everything After
(12) outlining the paper
(13) writing the first draft of the paper.
(14) presenting the paper
(15) thesis defense
(16) submitting the paper to a journal
(17) how to reap the benefits of your research
Before getting started here are some questions for students and faculty interested in undergraduate research.
Student Big Picture Questions
- Have you taken the relevant course work including a related field class and statistics/econometrics?
- Does your academic record and future plans suggest they would greatly benefit from an individual research project?
- Do you have a general idea of what you want to study?
- Do you have a full calendar year until graduation and are willing to do work during the summer?
Professor Big Picture Question
- Do you think the joy from mentoring will outweigh the opportunity cost of the large amount time needed to invest in a single student?
- Does the student who approached you have the necessary course work to complete the task?
- Do you have the time to work with the student?