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Senior Honors Thesis
Writing a Successful Senior Honors Thesis
Writing a Senior Honors Thesis in economics requires more preparation than
simply completing the minimal requirements toward an economics major.
- defining a researchable question or a testable hypothesis. This
is the task that takes the most experience and requires consultation with
your primary thesis advisor. If your thinking about a topic is at the stage
of "I want to do research on Italy's economic growth" or "I want to study
poverty issues," you do not yet have a research question. Your question must
be specific and must contain a conjecture that can be supported or refuted
by evidence that you are capable of producing. Good research questions can
come from anywhere but the safest strategy is to look in areas of economics
that you have already studied.
- having a set of economic tools that you can apply to your research
question. The appropriate set of economic tools normally consists of
intermediate economic theory and econometrics. These courses should be
completed by the end of your junior year.
- having some background in an area of economics that relates to
your research question. This will most often be from economics courses that
you have already taken. For example, you may have taken International
Finance (Economics 162) and be familiar with economic theories that explain
exchange rates movements. This background gives you a head start in
identifying a good research question and keeps you from having to spend many
weeks learning background material.
- preparing a thesis proposal. A good proposal spells out your
research question, why it is important, and how you intend to carry out the
research. It should include a short review of other important research on
the subject, sources of data, and the analytical tools (ie. regression
analysis) that you will use. It is recommended that this work be completed
by the beginning of your senior year.
- beginning regular consultation with your primary thesis advisor
before the fall of your senior year. This could take place during the spring
of your junior year or the summer before your senior year. Study abroad may
make this consultation more difficult and should be factored into your
foreign study plans.
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