Lutz Hendricks - UNC - Department of Economics

# Tips for Writing a Paper

For some exceptionally well written papers, take a look at the work of Richard Rogerson.

### Structure of the presentation

Separate the presentation of what you do from the discussion of why you do it. Brief comments mixed in with the model presentation are ok. Long discussions make it hard to follow what you actually do.

Separate the presentation of the model from the derivation of its implications. It is very confusing to read a paper that mixes assumptions with results. First present the model. Define equilibrium. Then derive properties of the equilibrium.

There is a standard structure for presenting a model:

1. Demographics
2. Endowments
3. Preferences
4. Technologies
5. Market arrangements

Only once these have been stated is it acceptable to talk about equilibrium properties or agents’ problems. Next, describe the agents’ problems, and define an equilibrium.

• What is the question to be answered?
• Why is it important? (Often obvious)
• How is it approached?
• Why is the approach reasonable?
• What is the main result?
• How does the paper change the way I think about economics? What is the contribution?
• What is new relative to the literature?

### The process of writing

Nice wording comes last

• First decide on what you want to write. Just write that down. Focus on structure. Ignore wording and formatting.
• Only when everything is in place does it make sense to worry about construcing nice sentences.

A little trick: When you are unsure about notation, define latex commands for the mathematical symbols.

• Example: \newcommand{\capShare}{\alpha}. Then y = A k^\capShare.

• Let your code write a latex preamble with statments like \newcommand{\meanWage}{7.53}.
• Then in the text: “the mean wage in the sample is \$\meanWage”.
• That way, you don’t have to manually update the numbers in the text. It’s more robust.

### Tables

Don’t write tables by hand. Let your code write them. It’s faster and it avoids mistakes.

It is fairly easy to write basic Latex tables using code. I have Matlab code for this purpose in my github repo.

1. Tips on Writing Economics Papers by R. Carter Hill (a collection of links)
2. A Guide to Writing in Economics by P. Dudenhefer. Written for undergraduate writing, but also useful for PhD students.
3. Writing Tips For Economics Research Papers by P. Nikilov.