Step one: selecting a topic.



Although the topic of the project will be of your choosing, the instructor must approve it.

Your research topic or business plan should be related to business or business economics.

You are to submit a research proposal that includes: Tentative Research Topic, The reasons for your topic choice, initial bibliography, and expected outcome from your research. The endnotes may include web-based resources, but you must pay careful attention to the quality and reliability of on-line material. Your review of the literature must include scholarly books and/or articles appearing either in print or as e-books or e-journals available through the library website. However, we urge you to actually go to the library to examine print materials because not everything is available on-line!




Once you have found a topic that interests you, your research proposal or business plan may include the following five parts.


1. The Problem: What problem in the American/global business/economy do you want to work on? Perhaps you are interested in a problem in the global economy and thus multilateral economic policy challenges. You move from a broad topic to a narrow one. Then ask your topic questions! What do you want to know about this topic? Can you ask ten questions? To move from a topic to questions and then to a research problem, you need to address these two points:


* some condition of incomplete knowledge or understanding and

* the consequences of not fully knowing or understanding.


For example: The public does not understand how Social Security works, how private accounts would work, and the current state of the Federal Government’s budget. Consequently, they cannot join the public debate about the important issue of partial privatizing of Social Security as President Bush is proposing.


Try filling in the blanks:


Topic: I am studying ____________________________________

Question: because I want to find out what/why/how____________

Significance: in order to help my reader understand______________

Potential Practical Application: so that readers can _____________


One more suggestion for moving from a topic to a research problem: Create a working title for your research paper. You may change your title often as the semester progresses and as you get a deeper understanding of your problem and your hunches about solutions.

Note: While your topic is your personal interest, a research problem is a public interest


2. Your Hypothesis: What is your hypothesis about the problem? Do you have a hunch about its causes? Do you have a hunch about its effects? Hypotheses are specific statements or explanations about why or how certain things exist or change. A hypothesis is a claim! It is a “candidate for a plausible answer to your research question” Try to write a single sentence that formulates your claim.


3. Theory: What does economic or business theory imply for your topic? Look at microeconomics and macroeconomics, or management theories.


4. Your Research Design: How will you test your hypothesis? Will you use a cost/benefit analysis? Will you develop a case study? Will you analyze the pros and cons of a debate in economic policy or in business practice? This is your methodology. In this day and age in the field of economics and business, you need to be quantitative. If you claim that the income distribution in the U.S. is getting more unequal, then demonstrate this with data.

Another way to think of your research design is to develop arguments for your claims, arguments for your hypothesis. You should have reasons for your claims. You should have evidence for your reasons. Summaries, paraphrases, quotations, facts, figures, graphs, tables, etc. constitute evidence.

One more suggestions on formulating a research design: Write a Table of Contents for your report. What are the sections of your report? The subsections? You will not prove your hypothesis.

You will confirm or reject your hypothesis. You will work to support it and to challenge it. If you are a really good researcher, you may have to reject your hypothesis, which is a contribution to knowledge!


5. Potential Sources. Where do you expect to find your data and evidence? You need to find some books and articles on your topic. These are true bibliography items, as “biblio” means books. But you may use non-“biblio” sources such as interviewing policy analysts or policymakers, attending congressional hearings, seminars, etc. You will be using pamphlets and reports from think tanks (public policy research organizations). In this day and age, you will use online sources, but be careful with them. No academic authorities have vetted them. You need to evaluate all sources.

What departments and agencies of the executive branch of the federal government work on your topic? What committees and subcommittees in the House of Representative and in the Senate work on your topic? Which think tanks in town work on your topic?

You should start a working bibliography. From the very start, use the correct style. See an APA (American Psychological Association) writing style book as a reference.

Avoid biases in collecting evidence. Don’t create a straw man for your opponent’s views.

Don’t just use sources from conservative think tanks such as American Enterprise Institute,

Heritage Foundation, and Cato. Don’t just use sources from liberal think tanks such as Brookings

Institution, Economic Policy Institute, and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.





You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someone else’s words or ideas but fail to credit that person, leading your readers to think that those words are yours.


To avoid the serious problem of plagiarism, you must cite your sources, be they for quotations, facts, summaries, or paraphrases. You must carefully document, or record, your research. To repeat: it is important in research to document your claims and to cite your sources.

There are two reasons for this: First, intellectual property rights require that you give credit where credit is due. Second, research is a public endeavor. Other researchers may want to test your findings. Thus, they must be able to find your sources. Do not wait until the end of the semester to document your sources. Using and citing sources is part of the process of research.

Try to see where the information in the website is actually from. For example, the AFL-CIO may have a home page on a topic of interest to you. They may provide statistics on the hourly earnings. You should know that hourly earnings are collected by the Census Bureau and analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The AFL-CIO is not the source of this data; it is just where you got it. You need to evaluate your sources.


 Here are two websites that may be helpful for your citations and bibliography.


When you cite a website, you must put the date that you accessed it. After the citation, write:

“Accessed ________.” Fill in the blank with the date you accessed it. This is for footnotes, works cited, and for bibliographies.


A note on Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia. This is the largest encyclopedia in the world. Be very careful with it. Double-check anything you learn from it and consider Wikipedia as only one source. Errors have been found on it. I suggest you look at



Start carrying out your research. Collect the information, data, and evidence that you need to test your hypothesis. Interview people. Attend hearings. Ask questions of speakers in various seminars and workshops that are addressing your topics and issues. Summarize and paraphrase your readings. Collect quotations, facts, figures, etc.





When you hand this in to me, you must have a Table of Contents because I need to see how much of the project you have completed and how much more there is to be completed. I need to see the structure of your argument in the titles of the sections or chapters. Consider having subsection titles or sections of chapters with titles. You should also include text so that I can check your citations and documentations, be they in parentheses, or in the form of footnotes.

I also need to see your list of Works Cited, your Bibliography, or your list of Sources Consulted.





You should have an Introduction. It should “frame your argument in a way that makes it seem worth reading” (Booth el al., 222-40).

The centerpiece of your research project is where you test your hypothesis and/or report your findings. This is where you may have a table of facts or statistics that you explain. Explain and analyze the data you have collected as it relates to your hypothesis. The tables, figures, and charts may be put in an Appendix.

You should have a Conclusion. It should “emphasize the significance of your research”

(Booth el al., 220-40). Because this is a research project on business or economy, the conclusion should include some suggestions or policy recommendations. How can you or others expand upon your work? When you propose some suggestions or policy recommendations, you may want to address the following points:

* It is feasible; it can be implemented in a reasonable time.

* It will cost less to implement than the cost of the problem it solves.

* It will not create a bigger problem than the one it solves.

* It is cheaper and faster than alternative ones—a claim that can be extremely difficult to support (Booth et al., 128).

In your conclusion, you should give ideas for further research on this topic in the future.


The last thing to do is to write an abstract of your research project. “…an abstract…presents the main point and summarizes its support” (Booth el al., 194), which will be placed in your paper after the title page. This should be single-spaced and double indented and centered on the page vertically

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