Lutz Hendricks - UNC - Department of
How to Read Papers Effectively
While you read, keep these questions in mind (due to Lee Ohanian):
- What is the question?
- What is the approach?
- Why is the approach reasonable?
- What are the results?
- How does the paper change the way I think about economics?
Skip the details
- Unless you have to, focus on the big picture and skip implementation details.
- Example: Acemoglu, Johnson & Robinson
- you may want to remember that the paper uses settler mortality as an instrument for institutions.
- you don’t need to read in detail how the data are constructed, what controls are used in the regressions, etc.
- If you need to pass judgement on the paper (do I find the results compelling?), then you need to sweat the details
- While you read, make a structured bibliography in your favorite (outline capable) writing tool.