Finding a Good Topic
Your topic needs to be neither too broad that you can't adequately do an analysis within the scope of the class or too narrow that there is not enough existing research to analyse. The fact that you need to have your topic approved by Dr. Kilby is a built in safety net. Here are some tried and true tips for identifying a good topic.
- Explore the topics listed in the syllabus as a starting point.
- Explore topics defined in books or quality reliable web sites (including wikipedia!)
- Browse the popular press for topics (beware that current events don't make good topics but the underlying issues illustrated by current events can be fruitful.)
- Browse scholarly databases or journals.
Finding Research Literature
Finding the research literature on your topic typically necessitates your using multiple search engines and search techniques including the following:
- Search article databases directly (Google Scholar, EconLit, PAIS, SSCI, Scopus)
- Mine the bibliographies of "on point" articles to find supporting and challenging studies.
- Identify the seminal (or most influential/pioneering) works
Foreign Aid Article Databases
EconLit with Full Text (EBSCO)
Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Scholar search tips
PAIS International (ProQuest)
Indexes and abstracts journal articles, books, working papers, and dissertations in the field of economics based on the Journal of Economic Literature's subject classification
. Provides access to the full text of selected journals including all American Economic Association journals. Coverage goes back to 1886.
Social Sciences Citation Index - Web of Science (Clarivate)
Provides citations and abstracts for journal articles, books, government documents, conference papers, research reports, etc. in the areas of public affairs, public and social policy, and international relations. International in scope. Formerly known as the Public Affairs Information Service
Indexes core journals in the social sciences. Provides information on citing and cited references for each article. Search by article title word, journal title, author, cited author or reference, address word (i.e., author's institution), or funding agency. Covers 1956 to the present.
Provides citations and abstracts to peer-reviewed journals, books, and conference proceedings in all major disciplines. Provides information on citing and cited references for each article.
Working with Data
There are at least three common ways to find data for analysis.
- Find data sets in indices such as Statitisical Insights.
- Identify data sets used by others via their research papers.
- Browse relevant & known data sources (such as those listed below).
Once you've identified a promising data look for these features
- Make sure the datapoints are populated (many databases indicate that they have data by location or time period but the data is incomplete)
- Read the data documentation to be sure that the variables measure what you think they do.
- Make sure you have enough data points for analysis.
- Make sure the data is comparable
- Checks the units for uniformity.
Development Aid Data
"AidData collects, curates, and publishes data on more than $5.5 trillion dollars in development finance from 90 bilateral and multilateral agencies at the project level. All of this information is available in our searchable database of more than one million development finance activities". OECD Statistics
Provides comparable, time series data by country and topic. USAID - Sub Saharan Africa
USAID's page on the charitible efforts made toward Africa's Sub-Saharan regions. World Bank World Development Indicators (WDI)
"World Development Indicators (WDI) publication is the World Bank's premier annual compilation of data about development. The 2007 WDI includes more than 900 indicators." The WDI and GDF Online is owned and copyrighted by the World Bank and the users may not copy, reverse engineer, modify, decompile or disassemble WDI and GDF Online or its operating software. While every effort has been made to ensure the high quality and accuracy of WDI and GDF Online, the Bank does not warrant that the functions contained in WDI and GDF Online shall meet the users? requirements or that the operation of WDI Online shall be uninterrupted or error-free. Statistical Insight (ProQuest)
Offers indexing, abstracting, and selected full text of statistical publications from U.S. state and federal governments, business and research institutes, and international material from the UN, OECD, EU, etc. Some tables are available in GIF, XLS, CSV, and other formats. IMF Data Free
Freely available datasets from the International Monetary Fund. Must register and login with individual account before downloading data.