Writing a Research Essay in Economics
You've been given an economic research essay topic for your assessment task and completed your research. Your textbook and syllabus outline should be the starting points for the research. Make sure you read the criteria on which you will be assessed.
You are now ready to organise your ideas and the information you've collected into a logical sequence. But where do you start? It is useful to begin with an essay outline.
The Structure of the Essay Outline
The beginning of an essay is the introduction containing your main ideas that you will make. It is important that these main ideas refer to the question and that you define the key terms. The end of an essay has the conclusion. The middle or body of the essay contains the arguments, supported by evidence, examples, relevant graphs, and statistics. The essay should logically progress towards the conclusion.
The outline is like a road map. It should be constructed to keep you on task as you research and write the essay. A good outline will ensure that you write a logically constructed essay that supports your ideas and helps to prevent you from wandering off the topic. It should contain the key terms in the essay question. Make sure you understand the meaning of terms such as outline, explain, discuss, analyse and evaluate. These terms will determine your approach to the essay.
Construct your outline by listing all the important points you want to cover in your essay. Refer to the syllabus and the concepts related to the question. Begin by brainstorming the key terms. Use your textbook and syllabus as a guide. You will find definitions in your text in blue and key points listed for each topic. For example, aggregate demand and its components are found in Chapter 12 of the HSC text. Your text lists and explains the components of aggregate demand and shows the related concepts in blue. These terms give you the key points you can use in your research essay. You should provide one main point for each paragraph. Start with the introduction, under which you will write out your main statement and work through logically, point by point, until you reach the conclusion. Rank your points according to their importance. Keep in mind the question and the method of organisation you intend to use.
Group related ideas together under general headings and arrange them so they flow logically. Show the links between the concepts. It may be useful to number each point, ranking their importance (e.g. A 1 2 3 B 1 2 3); add supporting statistics and/or graphs that are relevant. Alternatively, you can simply use points in order of importance. Show the key links between the concepts and decide which key definitions, graphs and/or statistics you will use with each point. While doing this refer back to the question to stay on track.
eg. Components of aggregate demand
o biggest component of GDP
o graph - consumption function
o disposable income
▪ interest rates
• real interest rates
▪ economic conditions
Some essays read as if each point had been written on a pack of cards, then the pile thrown up in the air to determine the order. Be clear why one point follows another: each point in your outline should link with the next point. Support your main points with statistics, graphs, contemporary or hypothetical examples as appropriate. Discard anything that is not useful or relevant to your arguments. Use a logical order.
One of the most helpful things about a detailed outline is that it will quickly make clear to you where the gaps lie in your understanding of the topics covered by the question. If you don't yet have enough support in one area, you will know that you have more research and thinking to do. Sometimes this extra research will unearth new facts or ideas and enhance your essay. Don’t forget to acknowledge your sources of information. Remember what...
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