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econbs
12-05-2007, 05:54 AM
I am trying to figure out a way to start thinking about a research topic for my senior thesis. I really have no idea where to start investigating - I haven't even decided on an area of economics, but either applied micro or game theory sound appealing. How did you come up with your first research topic in college?

Chicunomics
12-05-2007, 06:11 AM
Well I was interested in applied micro and game theory, and a natural implication of that interest is that you do a paper in theoretical IO. Since I decided on IO, I went and talked to the 'IO specialist' in our department (who later became my advisor) and asked her for some recent papers she thought might be interesting. Note that this may be a little presumptuous if you don't know the person -- I already knew her pretty well. You may like to look at papers being presented at recent conferences for ideas, since these are usually in areas where there is room for research. But really, the best place to get ideas, especially for something like IO or closely related fields, is by observing something in the business world that seems a bit strange, and trying to model it. That basic process is how new areas of economics come about in the first place. So once you see something interesting, think about what specific research areas that relates to (odds are it's not so revolutionary that someone hasn't done something closely related already) and see if you can adapt those models to what you yourself are trying to investigate.

The only other proviso I will put in here is if you try to do an undergrad thesis in theory, expect a bit of pain along the way...but it's worth it, I think, once you pull through.

YoungEconomist
12-05-2007, 04:47 PM
Well I was interested in applied micro and game theory, and a natural implication of that interest is that you do a paper in theoretical IO. Since I decided on IO, I went and talked to the 'IO specialist' in our department (who later became my advisor) and asked her for some recent papers she thought might be interesting. Note that this may be a little presumptuous if you don't know the person -- I already knew her pretty well. You may like to look at papers being presented at recent conferences for ideas, since these are usually in areas where there is room for research. But really, the best place to get ideas, especially for something like IO or closely related fields, is by observing something in the business world that seems a bit strange, and trying to model it. That basic process is how new areas of economics come about in the first place. So once you see something interesting, think about what specific research areas that relates to (odds are it's not so revolutionary that someone hasn't done something closely related already) and see if you can adapt those models to what you yourself are trying to investigate.

The only other proviso I will put in here is if you try to do an undergrad thesis in theory, expect a bit of pain along the way...but it's worth it, I think, once you pull through.

What was your topic/thesis?

buckykatt
12-05-2007, 06:25 PM
1. Find a recent paper that interests you and read it.

2. Find something recent and interesting cited in that paper and go read that.

3. Repeat until you find that each new paper you read is citing the papers you already read, or which are cited in the papers you already read. Now you have zeroed in on an area of current research that interests you.

The JEL is a good place to start for the paper in step 1, since it publishes those long literature review articles that will give you lots of related papers to start with. Chapters in The New Palgrave and similar books are also a good place to start.

Antichron
12-05-2007, 06:32 PM
Another great place to find ideas is the Journal of Economic Perspectives. These articles are usually written by leaders of the fields, and they summarize a subset of the existing literature in a way that is intended for a somewhat general audience.

Chicunomics
12-05-2007, 09:22 PM
What was your topic/thesis?

I ended up doing it on open source software -- specifically on how innovation in the software industry is affected by the presence of open source software. It was good because it's still a new field and there's lots of gaps there.