How do you ask useful, impactful, critical questions in economics research? Why do questions, sources, and searches matter so much?
Here are some steps to guide you in your journey:
Note: This section is still in-progress and based on the work of our talented colleague, Dr. Leo Lovemore!
The Brown University Library facilitates and supports critical research practices that ask how bias, power, and uneven access to resources are at work in the labor of scholarship.
Consider reflecting on the following set of questions and resources to develop and integrate critical perspectives into your research plans:
Key resources for learning more:
"Why Citational Practice?" Teaching Citational Practice.
Shanelle E. Kim, "The Paths We Were Told To Follow" A Citational Practice Worksheet for Students." Teaching Citational Practice 1 (2021): Progressive Pedagogies for Humanities Research and Citation.
Annabel L. Kim, “The Politics of Citation.” Diacritics 48, no. 3 (2020): pp. 4–9.
When doing research for courses at Brown, you might be asked to "choose a topic" for an assignment. While being so open-ended can be freeing for some, it can be anxiety provoking for others. When you are starting on a new project ask yourself: What is a topic I care about?
We can take your curiosity and translate it into a research question.
Research questions in different fields, like physics, sociology, or theater, might seem like they are radically different from one another, but they share some basic elements.
Research questions are:
"Scaled" or "scoped" to be answerable within your time frame
Framed in a context, discipline, and/or rationale
Topic: I'm interested in learning more about industrial pollution because I'm concerned about pollution and climate change.
Research Question: What are the concentrations of heavy metals in the drinking water in riverways surrounding recently closed coal-fired power plants in New England?
Topic: I'm interested in queer history in the Middle East.
Research Question: What is the history of sexual reassignment in Morocco during the French Mandate?
Topic: I'm interested in censorship and democracy, especially examples of censorship in pop culture.
Research Question: What were the music censorship policies in Franco's Spain, and how did the transition to democracy affect the policies and practices of censorship?
How do researchers in your discipline approach the topic you'd like to investigate? Before diving into case studies, working papers, and other specific evidence, it may help you to take a step back and look at what we call background resources. These include:
Below are some specific places to start with economics research:
Did you know that you can vastly improve your ability to find key relevant sources by employing a keyword strategy? Keywords are the specific words you identify as useful for investigating your research question, and the words you often put into database searches. But there's more nuance in finding, refining, and experimenting with keywords than you may expect.
Below is a quick video tutorial (6 minutes) about search strategy, and a link to our full guide for learning more.