Writing in EconomicsWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Beginning Your Paper

  • What is the assignment or professor asking?
  • Do I need to provide secondary resources?
  • Who will be reading this paper?
  • Am I required to write formally (e.g., academic prose) or is the assignment of an informal nature(e.g., a blog)?
  • What types of data and graphical illustrations will I need, if any?
  • See Writer's Web: Getting Started, which has general advice on how to get started on any paper

Choosing a Topic

Ask, Ask, Ask:

  • Is my topic manageable? Can this be a subject within my ability to effectively analyze, explain, and argue?
  • Will I be able to provide reasonable data? Is there information on my topic that will help advance the paper?
  • Is this a topic that interests me?
  • Am I being overly ambitious? Is the scope of my analysis/thesis/argument beyond my ability?

Writing the Paper

Ask questions: it will help establish an argument.

Examples: What is the author of this article arguing? Why? Are there flaws to the thesis? Does the author effectively support his/her thesis with intuitive, graphical and mathematical support?

Perform secondary research (if required or deemed necessary). It may not be mandatory, but reading other authors may give you more ideas (but don't forget to give credit where outside sources are included)

Organize the materials you'll need: very simply, at your work station, make your space neat and tidy; keep highly-used materials within arm's reach so as to avoid wasting time by always searching for books, articles, notes, etc.

Outline how the paper will be formatted: this can be as simple as writing your ideas on paper (i.e., brainstorming) or more structured (using roman numerals, sub-letters, etc. to provide a roadmap for the essay)

Recognize who the paper is being written for (audience); some professors may require more graphical support whereas others want to you to explain the process more thoroughly in your own words; also, do not assume that the audience knows your topic/idea; provide background information

Write the paper; BUT do not think that once the words are on the screen the essay is finished; remember, writing is a process; you may find that the argument you develop at the beginning of the paper changes and evolves by the conclusion; always be willing to go back and make necessary adjustments

Proofread the rough draft; after major issues such as a thesis and argument have been established, read the paper aloud or have a friend read it for grammatical and stylistic errors. Reading aloud catches many of the mistakes students make.

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