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Economics: Research Process

A select list of Economics resources that are available from the Charles E. Shain Library at Connecticut College.

Before you begin a research project it's important to have a plan. These tools can help you understand and navigate the process.

SAGE Research Methods Database

Find resources to answer your research methods and statistics questions

Research in Economics is often characterized by large-scale statistical modeling. The application of statistical methods to economic data is called econometrics. Economic researchers are also very interested in tracking changes in economic data over time and so will often use longitudinal studies. The field also benefits from having large, nationally and internationally collected survey data sets that can be used to conduct secondary data analysis. Behavioral economics often includes experiments or may require more qualitative approaches, such as interviews or observational research. For introductions to many of the statistical methods used in Economics, try SAGE’s Little Green Book series.

You can search directly by typing in the box below. 

Conducting Research

One of the most challenging pieces of a research project can be choosing a topic. If your professor has assigned you a topic, you're ready to start researching; if not, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • First, make sure you understand your assignment. How much information will you need? How long do you have to complete the assignment? Are there specific requirements for number or type of sources?
  • Since you'll be spending some time with your topic try to pick a subject that you find interesting. Begin by thinking about subjects that have been covered in class, maybe something that has been in the news or an area of personal interest.
  • Once you've come up with some tentative topics browse through some reference sources to gather background information. This will also help you determine if your topic is too narrow (no or little information available) or too broad (information overload!).

It is best to begin researching with a broad scope and narrow down your sources as you learn more about your topic.

  1. Come up with search terms. Take a few minutes to formulate your research question and brainstorm possible keywords. This will help focus your searches and save you time.
  2. Start with WorldCat or the Library Catalog for books.
  3. Search some core databases or OneSearch for articles.
  4. Use a citation manager, such as RefWorks, to keep track of resources you are interested in or consult.

You've found some resources for your paper, but how do you know if they're appropriate? Try these five criteria to help evaluate sources:

• What stated goals or objectives does this resource meet?
• Is its purpose commercial, educational, informative or personal?
• How detailed and factual is the information versus opinion-based?
• Is the information balanced or colored with a political, commercial, or
  religious point of view?
• If a website, does the domain indicate what type of institution published it?
• Is the resource from a peer-reviewed (also called scholarly or academic) journal or
published by a scholarly
or educational organization?
• Is the author identifiable?
• Does the author/publisher list qualifications, and can they be verified? 
• Does the author provide factual information verifiable in other resources?
• Is the information clear, legible, well organized and error-free?
• Does the author cite his/her sources? Are research methods explained?
• Is an editor, reviewer or collaborator named who verified content?
• Are topics in this resource analyzed in depth or just summarized?
• Does the resource cover all aspects of a topic or state the criteria for
  select coverage?
• Does this work substantiate other sources or update other information? 
• When was the resource produced and/or updated?
• If the resource is a website, are the links active and current?
• Is the resource referenced by other sources?


This guide was adapted from a resource available at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Research and Writing Resources