Econ 479

The Art of Writing, the Science of Economics

Tackling your first assignment

Your first assignment is before you, and you feel the cold dread of having landed on unfamiliar territory without many signposts.

Your syllabus contains a seven-day plan for writing. Please look at it closely.

But now let’s simplify that plan just a bit to get you started. Here are four things to do.

1. What is the assignment asking you to do? Read it very closely. It is self-contained and tells you what you need to accomplish. Be sure that you understand the scope and limits of the assignment before you go further.

2. Now sketch out a very general plan. If the assignment is calling for you to argue to raise or lower taxes, ask yourself: Do you oppose tax raises generally? Are they sometimes necessary? Are taxes already too high, in your opinion, or are they too low? Decide on your stance.

3. Now think about three arguments that you can briefly make in support of your position. The syllabus gives you more guidance on that count.

4. Now—and this is of critical importance—what economic concept can be brought to bear on your argument? If the question is whether gas prices are too low, you might talk about elasticity of demand. If the question is about whether student loans should be forgiven, you might introduce moral hazard. Any argument you make can be supported, and indeed must be supported, by such a concept. Decide on one, and put it to work in your paper.

Onward!

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Written by gregorymcnamee

January 18, 2016 at 7:25 pm

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