What Economics Majors Should Know
By the time she graduates from Smith an economics major should be able to use information (qualitative and quantitative data) to understand and critically evaluate economic arguments and policies. This requires the ability to:
These skills are developed as a student progresses through her major.
By the time she finishes the basis a student should be comfortable accessing and using basic information and data sources such as:
Statistical Abstract of the United States [U.S. Census Bureau] 1878-2012
A student should be able to calculate basic statistics (e.g., mean, median, proportion, standard deviation), percentage changes, and trends (average annual rates of change) using these data and to present results in relevant and informative forms (e.g., tables, diagrams, graphs).
A student should also begin reading the economic press in sources, such as:
By the time she completes her work at the 200 level a student should be familiar with the most important general economics journals and data sources, for examples:
In courses included under the catalogue heading International Economics a student will find useful major publications and data sources on the world economy such as:
There are also field-specific information and data sources. For example, the EPA website for environmental economics, the NIH website for health economics, and Historical Statistics of the United States for American economic history.
When asked to write research papers applying economic theory to specific research questions, familiarity with special resources widely used by economists (books, academic journals and published datasets) will prove valuable. These would include:
Economics Subject Page (Smith College Libraries)
Lists primary research databases, internet sites, and other resources.
Each economics major must take at least one 300 level course. The essential defining elements of 300 level courses are: a.) a semester long research project b.) at a level utilizing the tools of the intermediate theory courses and c.) an effective oral presentation of her research. Successful completion of a seminar will require students to use the resources and skills outlined above. A good seminar paper will investigate a topic of special interest to the author. It will review the existing literature, develop and defend a meaningful research question, choose an appropriate methodology, define and discover sources of evidence and use that evidence to derive conclusions. It will articulate all that in a well written document, following rules of citation and style.
Plagiarism is a serious violation of the College’s Honor Code. When using someone else’s words, ideas, or arguments, students must acknowledge their sources. It is important to identify and attribute all sources of new ideas, except for commonly shared knowledge, e.g., dates and facts found in encyclopedias and dictionaries. For more information on the College Honor Code, look here.
Any research involving human subjects (including observational studies, interviews, surveys), either on campus or elsewhere, must be reviewed and approved by the Smith Institutional Review Board. For more information on human subjects research at Smith look here.
July 28, 2013