How to Write Proposals on Recent Topics in Economics

Writing any kind of research proposal begins with a well-defined topic. It must argue the importance of the topic and demonstrate that you are familiar with the literature on the topic, outline a methodological approach and argue for its appropriateness and superiority over other approaches. In essence, a research proposal for an economics paper is the blueprint for the research project.

Solidify your research topic idea. This means you must be well versed in current economics topics to write either an analytical paper or a critical paper. Your topic and mode of research (analytical or critical) will largely determine your research plan, and thus your proposal. This also means that you must have a research question, statement or hypothesis you will argue and that you include in your proposal. Additionally, you must clarify the scope of your study to provide a clear focus.

Follow the guidelines that your professor or supervisor has given to you. Sometimes, professors will specify how many pages your proposal should be or the format that you should follow. Be familiar with the writing style your professor or department uses — for example, American Psychological Association, Harvard or another style.

Decide on a methodological approach. It will be either qualitative, quantitative or a mixed method approach. This will also entail deciding how you intend to gather your data and how you will analyze the data. If quantitative, you will likely engage in an experimental design or a survey. If qualitative, you will need to decide if you will conduct an ethnographic study or a case study. A qualitative work can also make use of a phenomenological approach, a narrative method, or a grounded theory approach. A mixed method strategy can be sequential, concurrent or transformative in terms of approach.

Provide the background for the research topic. You will need to describe the problem that led up to the need for the research and identify the significance of the study. The significance of the study is related to the research question or hypothesis — ask and then answer why the study is necessary and how it will contribute to the field. This will determine what your intervention into the field of economics will be.

Write a review of the literature. Always use academic journal articles or books and use at least six to eight sources or more, depending on the length of the research project. A good review of the literature will help you to articulate what your intended intervention will be by identifying not only what the literature includes but also what it lacks.

Construct a time line for the phases you expect your study will follow. This will be especially necessary for certain kinds of projects that involve quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, and if you will need to obtain funding for your project.

About the Author

Dina Gilio-Whitaker began writing professionally as a freelance journalist in 2001 when she focused on community activism. She has a bachelor's degree in Native American studies with a political science minor and is currently a graduate student in American studies at the University of New Mexico. Gilio-Whitaker has won numerous awards for her academic writing and is an accomplished Native American artist, crafter and dancer.

Photo Credits
  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images