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Re: st: Starting a research project [was: Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 05:09:10 -0500]


From   "Michael S. Hanson" <mshanson@mac.com>
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   Re: st: Starting a research project [was: Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 05:09:10 -0500]
Date   Sat, 17 Mar 2007 15:37:19 -0500

On Mar 17, 2007, at 5:14 AM, wct wrote:

i'm going to try do some type of research paper of an economics issue.
i'm going to find an issue and made a hypothesis, then look for data to support my hypothesis, in a regresssion. can anyone tell me where i can begain to look for economic research papers which can be used as data to support my hypothesis. i'm new to this, this would be my first time, trying to do any type of research.
With all due respect, what you have described is really not how one goes about undertaking empirical research in economics (or, indeed, any discipline that utilizes statistical analysis). As you provide no information about your background, I am going to presume that you have enough statistics and mathematics that you can read an advanced undergraduate-level econometrics textbook, and enough economics training that you can form sensible hypotheses to be examined, based (in part) on a literature review of relevant theoretical and applied work in your chosen field of economics. EconLit, which should be available through the library or economics department at your current institution, is the best place to starting finding such research. As for data, you might start with the AEA-sponsored "Resources for Economists," available on the web. (Google it.)

You also have not provided any information about the expectations of this assignment. Is it a one-off brief piece at the end of the semester of an intro stats/metrics course, or is it something more substantial -- that is, will you be graded on simply applying some specific tools you learned in your course, or will you be expected to produce something that stands on its own as a complete and original piece of applied research? In the latter case especially, I would strongly recommend that you read chapter 19 of Wooldridge's "Introductory Econometrics," entitled -- appropriately enough -- "Carrying Out an Empirical Project."

(As an aside, I have one major qualm with Wooldridge's discussion of empirical research in economics in this chapter: in my opinion, he inaccurately and unnecessarily characterizes macroeconomic research questions as inappropriate for student projects. In my experience, these can actually be some of the most interesting and rewarding topics to be investigated -- particularly in the hands of good undergraduates -- but that is a discussion for another time....)

I also would hope that at whatever institution you currently reside, you have resources available to support your efforts and answer your questions as they arise. I would venture that it is at best unrealistic to expect regular support for such an undertaking from voluntary participants on Statalist.

The other resource I would recommend for someone in your position is Kennedy's "A Guide to Econometrics." Again, there is a whole chapter devoted to empirical research issues: chapter 21, entitled, "Applied Econometrics." Particularly worth attention are his "10 Commandments of Applied Econometrics." The whole book is arguably a valuable guide for individuals whose econometrics training has emphasized theory and proofs over intuition and applications. And it's available as a (relatively inexpensive) paperback.

Hope this helps.

Kennedy, Peter. "A Guide to Econometrics," 5th edition. Boston: MIT Press, 2003. ISBN 0-262-61183-X

Woodlridge, Jeffrey M. "Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach," 3rd edition. Thomson South-Western, 2006. ISBN 0-324-28978-2

-- Mike

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