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Economic Systems of the World
Research Paper Guidelines

Steve Gardner
Spring 2017

Basic Specifications


Audience:
Write the paper at a level understandable by an "average" student in this class.
Style:
Follow the American Economic Association Style Guide, which is based on the Chicago Manual of Style. If you're working on many large research projects, you may want to try using Zotero or RefWorks, which are Baylor-supported online tools that help you to organize your sources and create proper footnotes and bibliographic entries according to several style manuals.
Length:
About 10-15 typewritten pages (12-point font, double spaced, 1-inch borders).
Dates:
Turn in a topic statement (one paragraph) and a preliminary bibliography by February 7. The finished paper is due April 18.

    Objectives

Believe it or not, many students who have taken this course have told me that preparing a term paper was one of their most rewarding experiences. If your paper is done properly, it should serve several purposes:
  • Application: You will have an opportunity to apply concepts learned in this course. In most cases, this means that you will choose a country that interests you, obtain information on the structure of economic institutions (the economic system) in that country, and then attempt to determine how the country's economic performance (inflation, unemployment, income distribution, growth, balance of payments, etc.) has been influenced by its economic system.
  • Focus:  You will gain in-depth knowledge of one subject. If you write your paper on, say, the economic system in Sri Lanka, or Nepal, or Libya, then you may become an important authority on that subject.
  • Research:  You will gain additional experience performing documentary and on-line research. To find the most current and complete information on your topic, and to make a decent grade on your paper, you will need to consult a wide range of research sources.
  • Writing. When you leave Baylor, any significant career or graduate program you pursue will involve writing reports, memoranda, proposals, and so on. If you give your employer a report that is poorly researched, organized, and written, she/he will not be pleased--and neither will I. Several of my students have used their term papers as a sample of their writing when they have applied for jobs and graduate programs.  From time to time, a student paper will find an outlet for publication.


    Topics

Several different kinds of topics are acceptable for your term paper. They include the following:
  1. One option is to write a general paper about a national economic system.  Typically, this will begin with a brief (say, 2-3 pages) discussion of the historical and cultural background of the country, its resource base, and perhaps its political system. Then you would provide a general description of the economic system, which may include information on industrial organization, banking, labor-management relations, the role of the government in the economy, and so on. Next, you will need to focus the paper by emphasizing one aspect of the economic system. The paper title may be, for example, "British Labor Market Institutions," or "Financial Institutions in Vietnam."  Finally, you would discuss the recent economic performance of the country--inflation, unemployment, etc.--and discuss the extent to which that performance can be "explained" by the structure of the economic system.  It should be clear that your paper concerns the institutional structure of the economy.  It should not bear too close a resemblance to a paper in comparative politics or international marketing. 
  2. Another option is to pick an economic phenomenon, and compare its operation, use, or significance in two or more economic systems.  You could, for example, discuss population growth policies in China and India. Other topics could involve prices, interest rates, investment, profits, public finance, labor unions, banking, and insurance.
  3. You may perform a comparative study of two (or more, I suppose) countries that have similar historical and cultural backgrounds--i.e., North and South Korea--and try to determine whether differences in their economic performances can be explained by differences in their economic systems, or whether they are explained by other factors.
  4. If you are theoretically inclined, you may wish to develop a theoretical or econometric model for some nation's economy, or you may wish to write a review of the theoretical literature on, for instance, workers' self management. 
  5. If you have an idea for some other kind of project that would apply the material covered in this course, come in during office hours and talk to me about it.

Writing Style

As mentioned previously, the basic form of the paper should conform to the AEA and Chicago style guides.  Furthermore, please observe the following guidelines:
  1. To make the organization of your paper clear to the reader, provide an introductory paragraph that summarizes the outline of the paper, provide a clear statement of conclusions, make careful transitions between paragraphs in the body of the paper, and make effective use of subheadings.

  2. Avoid excessive use of direct quotations.  Generally, when you use information from one of your sources, you should rephrase it into your own words, and give proper credit to the original author.  By using your own words, you can maintain consistency of style and coherence of argument.  Use direct quotations only when there is something significant about the original wording .  For example, you may want to include an important quotation by a national leader (John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you ... ") or a witty statement by an author (John Maynard Keynes said, "In the long run, we are all dead").  

  3. There is nothing more boring than a paper that provides a long parade of facts without any interpretation.  Include your own analysis of the information, explaining its significance.  Again, be sure to include a clear statement of your own conclusions.

  4. Generally, you should use statistics to illustrate or prove a point, not to make a point .  For example, you may make the general statement, "The standard of living has been declining in CountryX during the past decade."  Then you can use statistics (GDP per capita, infant mortality, etc.) to prove that point.  Please do not provide a long list of statistics without explaining their significance.

  5. Unless you are writing about a historical subject, provide the most recent information available .  For example, if you make the statement, "The GDP per capita of  CountryX is $3,500" you generally should draw that information from a very recent statistical source (not from a secondary book or article).

  6. Read Elements of Style by William Strunk and The Economist Style Guide to learn a wealth of other information on good writing, including maintenance of parallel structure, maintenance of active voice, and elimination of needless words.

Grading

Your grade on the paper will depend on its satisfaction of the purposes listed above. In particular:
33.3%
Application of course concepts: The paper should certainly tell me something about the economic system(s) of the country(ies) you survey.
33.3%
Documentation: Your information should be drawn from a large number and broad variety of sources.
33.3%
Presentation: Your paper will be examined for the strength of its form, style, spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Plagiarism and Other Dishonorable Conduct

According to the Baylor Student Disciplinary Procedure , students found guilty of misconduct are subject to a range of sanctions, including expulsion from the university.  According to the University Honor Code , dishonorable conduct includes (among other items) the following:
  1. Offering for course credit as one's own work, in whole or in part, the work of another.
  2. Incorporating into one's work offered for course credit passages taken either word for word or in substance from a work of another, unless the student credits the original author and identifies the original author's work with quotation marks, footnotes, or another appropriate written explanation.
  3. Offering for course credit one's own work, but work that one has previously offered for course credit in another course, unless one secures permission to do so prior to submission from the instructor in whose course the work is being offered.
  4. Offering for course credit work prepared in collaboration with another, unless the student secures the instructor's permission in advance of submission. A student does not prepare work in collaboration with another if he or she merely discusses with another a matter relevant to the work in question.
For additional guidance on the definition of plagiarism, see the appropriate section of the section in the MLA Style Center.

As mentioned above, most of your paper should be written in your own words.  You should use direct quotations only when there is something significant about the wording that is used by your source.  Direct quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks or they must be indented and single spaced.  Otherwise, you should rephrase everything in your own words and maintain a consistent writing style.

Avoid the temptation to copy and paste large chunks of  material from the Internet.  Remember, if you find information on the Internet, I can find it again just as easily.

Information Sources 
Start Early 
If you will get started early enough in the semester, a few sources will be available that will not otherwise.  First, most countries have embassies and consular offices in the United States that will send general information--and some of my students have received free books on their economy--if you request it.  Secondly, if you begin early, you can obtain some of the books and articles that are not available at Moody through the OsoFast system at Interlibrary Services

Books
Books usually are your best source for "the big picture" and detailed background information.  However, some of that information is usually out of date soon after the book is published.  That's why you need to supplement books with the other current sources that are given below. Your main bibliographic source for books in the Baylor Library is the BearCat search engine . Ebrary is a great source and search engine for online books in the Baylor collection

Periodicals
EconLit is the best bibliographic search engine for articles in advanced economics journals. A good general-purpose search engine for economic and business publications is Business Source Complete. You can look at this list to find out whether we have electronic full-text access to the journals that you identify. Otherwise, you can obtain journal articles, delivered electronically as pdf files, by sending a request to Interlibrary Services.
 
Online Resources
Google is great, but don't stop there. For general web searches, try using this specialized Economics Search Engine. On the Baylor Libraries Electronic Resources web page, look through the Subject listings for Economics and International Studies. You should try to find web sites for government offices (Ministry of Finance, Prime Minister's Office, Statistical Office, etc.) and research institutes in the country you are studying; these may provide current reports and economic statistics.

Statistics
PLEASE do not include outdated statistics in your paper. World Development Indicators is a particularly good source of  international economic statistics, and others may be found in OECD, UNdata, and the UNDP Human Development database.