Economics - Student Resources

Economics Research Toolkit

Conducting research is an exciting process because you have an opportunity to build upon your previous knowledge and create something new. Building something new usually requires tools, and the type of tools that are most useful depends on what it is that you are constructing. Creating new knowledge in economics typically uses some of the following tools:

  • An economic model to simplify reality and understand the relationships between economic variables
  • A set of data to understand what is happening in the "real world"
  • Graphs or more sophisticated analysis of the real world data
  • A method of organizing your ideas as you conduct your research

The research resources listed here are intended to provide some of the essential tools that novice researchers use as they "do economics." Use the links under Economic Data to explore the huge volume of data that is available on the Web. When you find a data series that interests you, download it to an Excel spreadsheet. Watch the short Excel movie clip to see a demonstration of how to construct a graph or how to use other Excel features. Visit the Library to access the scholarly literature or enlist the help of a reference librarian. Throughout the research process, organize your thoughts and understand how your ideas are connected by using concept mapping software.

For an in-depth guide to carrying out economic research, please refer to Greenlaw's (2006) book:

Greenlaw, Steven A. 2006. Doing Economics: A Guide to Understanding and Carrying Out Economic Research. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company

Economic Data

In many cases, economic research involves accessing and using economic data. You may want to support an argument by presenting data graphically or test a hypothesis by analyzing data using econometric techniques.

A huge amount of data is available on the Web. The advantage of accessing data via the Internet is that it can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet without having to key in the data values. In a lot of cases, the data may be downloaded as an Excel file, but even when the data is in text format, it can be copy/pasted to an Excel spreadsheet and then parsed to separate variables into their own columns. (The Excel movie clip demonstrates how to parse.)

Excel Movies

View a short movie clip for a demonstration of how to parse data (split one column into two). Image: Video file

Concept Mapping

As you conduct your research, a graphic organizer is a terrific tool for organizing your ideas and revealing how concepts relate to one another. Use the link below to download free concept mapping software designed by the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition(IHMC).

DiMenna-Nyselius Library

The DiMenna-Nyselius Library is a valuable portal to the scholarly literature in economics and to individualized help with your research.  To see a sample of the vast resources available to Economics students, please visit the Library’s Best Bets for Starting your Research in Economics. Librarians are available to help students with all stages of their research.  

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