Undergraduate Research

Economic research is fun and rewarding. When you do research, you pull together the skills you have learned in your Economics courses to become an expert on your topic. Want to get started? Here’s your plan:

Acquire research skills

Take courses that will teach you essential research methods. At a minimum, you will need ECON 101 (Microeconomic Theory), ECON 102 (Macroeconomic Theory), ECON 121 (Economic Statistics), and ECON 122 (Econometrics). The Georgetown Economics Department also offers ECON 425 (Mathematics for Economists) and ECON 422 (Intermediate Econometrics). The other 400-level courses will show you how economic analysis is used in research in specific areas of Economics. You also may benefit from taking courses in Math such as linear algebra and multivariable calculus.

Other resources: Contact the free Statistics Consulting Clinic at statconsult@georgetown.edu.

Develop a research topic

A good research topic in Economics is a well-defined analytical question that can be analyzed using an economist’s tool kit. Talk with your professors to hone your topic.

Other resources: GUROP

Do the research and get advice (and maybe get course credit) along the way

The main venue for students writing research papers in economics is ECON 401 (Thesis in Economics), taught in the spring semester by Prof. Cumby.  If you are interested in writing a thesis, contact the professor early, preferably early in the fall. Some other 400-level classes involve research papers, an example is ECON 481 (Labor Economics) taught by Prof. Vroman.

Tell the world what you have discovered

Why stop with an “A” in a 400-level course? If you have made a new discovery, you should publicize it, and get credit for it in the larger research community. The next two steps are:

  1. Present your work at a research conference. The Carroll Round at Georgetown is an excellent forum for publicizing your. Other research conferences include: 2011 Eastern Economics Association Annual Meeting. Ask your advisor for information about other conferences.
  2. Submit your paper for publication. There are many journals that are dedicated to publishing undergraduate research in economics. These include the Carroll Round Papers and Proceedings, the University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics (UAUJE), and the Michigan Journal of Business.

Or, your paper might be publishable in one of the regular academic journals in Economics (these are the journals that publish your professors’ work).
Speak with your advisor and with the professor in your course to get advice about the types of conferences and journals that would be appropriate outlets for your work.