Frequently Asked Questions about ECON 384

What can you do to prepare for ECON 384?

  • Start thinking about topics as soon as possible. The faculty recommends that students jot down ideas throughout their coursework in economics.
  • Consult with the Faculty about possible topics. A good time to begin such conversations is during the course in which a topic arises.
  • Search for usable data to find out what is available. Professors will often cite relevant data sources in their courses, so the faculty recommends that students note data possibilities associated with each topic.
  • Consider what analytical framework would be useful. Economists organize their knowledge based on economic theories, which inform what analytical frameworks might be appropriate for analysis. Again, noting what theories and frameworks are discussed in a course will help focus the research topic.

How do you pick a topic?

  • Topics must be in an area of economics in which students have completed formal study, such as a course or an Independent Learning Project.
  • Listen to ideas the faculty suggests during their classes.

When do you take ECON 384?

  • Senior year, since you will draw on your cumulative knowledge of economics

What exactly do you have to do along the way?

  • Select a topic, a workable research question, and an appropriate analytical framework.
  • Write an initial written proposal to present to a Faculty Panel
  • Revise the written proposal that incorporates faculty suggestions and additional research.
  • Engage in a continuous process of research, writing, and revisions.
  • Practice for formal oral presentation.
  • Deliver the formal oral presentation to faculty, students, and friends.
  • Complete the final written draft of the research project.

How long are the formal oral presentation and the final paper?

  • Formal Oral Presentation: 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for questions.
  • Final Draft of Paper: this report on the results of your semester-long project will vary in length, depending on the question analyzed, but will include a title page, a 1-2 paragraph abstract of the project, the text of your paper, and a complete bibliography.

How are you evaluated?

In fall 2001, the following weights were used:

  • 50% final draft submitted to professor at the end of the course
  • 15% final formal oral presentation to faculty, students, and guests
  • 10% Expanded written proposal
  • 25% Drafts, initial written proposal, and various assignments

Please note that professors do reserve the right to adjust these weights to reflect individual student performance and may vary somewhat from semester to semester.

What do you do in class?

ECON 384 uses class meetings for students to

  • Engage in small group discussions and oral presentations of progress.
  • Discuss topics, sources, analytical frameworks, and status of projects.
  • Read and discuss other colleagues' drafts.
  • Hold individual conferences with the course's professor.

What are the areas of interest of each professor?

  • Ernie Diedrich: environmental economics, economic development, comparative economic systems.
  • Dan Finn: history of economic thought, economics & religious values, economics & philosophy.
  • Joe Friedrich: public sector & welfare economics, health economics, microeconomics.
  • Louis Johnson: American economic history, history of the global economy, macroeconomics, growth economics.
  • Meg Lewis: economics of gender & race, labor economics, quantitative methods & econometrics, history of economic thought.
  • John Olson: American economic history, macroeconomics, monetary economics.
  • Chuck Rambeck: international economics, microeconomics, quantitative methods & econometrics.
  • Sharmistha Self: economic development, economics of gender.
  • Parker Wheatley: industrial organization and policy in U.S. agricultural and food markets, the economics of the Internet in domestic and international agriculture, the organization of commodity exchanges.

What help can faculty provide?

  • All are available for consultation with 384 students.
  • Be informed, clear, and as coherent as possible about the specific help you need.
  • Be courteous and respectful of their time.
  • Do not expect any faculty member to do the project for you.

Where can you locate data and information?

  • Alcuin and Clemens libraries are the first place to search
    • In addition to the library catalogs, our library staff is excellent at helping students with research strategies.
    • Because SJU is a partial government repository, check other libraries, such as St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota.
    • For those materials not available in the library, be sure to utilize Inter-Library loans
  • Internet: excellent but still limited source for research materials, especially for less recent information. (Visit Economic Data and Links for a list of useful Web sites related to economics.)

What is expected during the formal oral presentation?

  • A clear statement of your research question
  • Clear articulation of your research methodology
  • Discussion of the evidence gathered to answer your research question
  • Coherent presentation of your findings and conclusions
  • A brief statement of future research on the topic

Combining an honors thesis and EC384

  • Students planning to write an honors thesis should register for HONR 398 in the fall of the senior year.
  • Students are also expected to attend the class meetings of the EC 384 course in the fall of the senior year. The EC 384 models the research process in economics and provides useful deadlines for completing the research project. In addition, if circumstances prevent a student from completing an honors thesis, the student will have completed the work for EC 384, a necessary requirement for graduating with an economics major.
  • The department chair will accept the substitution of HONR 398 for EC 384 when auditing the student's application for degree.