Macroeconomics guide: Jones’s Trick

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Macroeconomics is full of production functions. In Econ 333, Introduction to Economic Growth, finding the growth rates of variables in various production functions is a key learning objective. Check out the Jones’s Trick handout for a straight-forward guide that will teach you how to come up with growth rates for variables in a variety of equations.

This handout is shared with permission of the author, Dr. Kenneth Stewart.

How to write a critical review of an academic journal article

January 23, 2011 1 comment

Your professor has asked you to write a critical review of a paper. Where do you start?

The questions below are a great kick-off point. Read them, then read your article. While reading your article, make notes and brainstorm answers to the questions. You might find it helpful to skim the article once, and then go back and look at the areas of interest in more detail.

A typical review should be 2 – 3 pages long (or whatever your professor specifies) and should address (at least) the following issues:

• What question is the author(s) trying to address and why is this interesting? What

contribution does this article make to the understanding of the issue?

• How do the authors answer or analyze the question? That is do the authors use a

theoretical model, econometric analysis, etc? What are the main (crucial) assumptions

the authors make? How sensitive are the results/conclusions to these assumptions?

• What are the weaknesses in the article? Imagine that you were assigned to defend a

policy that was brought into question by the findings contained in the article. How

would you do so?

• You may find it useful to do some research, i.e. look up one or two relevant articles.

These questions were given to me as part of an assignment in a course in Canadian Microeconomic Policy. In the name of knowledge mobilization I am sharing them with you! I hope you found it helpful.

Starting the new year off with… data entry

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Another semester come and gone. While this puts me closer to graduating (YES!) it means my thesis is due in three months (EK!). While this semester won’t be as busy as my last, I will have other things to worry about. (What am I going to do after I graduate? Will my GPA be high enough? What advanced will I make in my knowledge transfer research project? Yikes, yikes, yikes.)

The semester has started off well, and I managed to enter the data from the 96 surveys I collected as part of my thesis research over the weekend. Now comes the next part: figuring out what it means.

The hardest part about the data entry, after figuring out how I wanted to lay it out in Excel, was interpreting some of the responses. If you ask a “yes or no” question, and the participant fills in 4/5 as “yes” and leaves the other blank, does that mean their answer is “no”?

I haven’t made any assumptions yet, but a lot of the surveys have minor issues like that. Another example is a question that asked to put a check mark beside the item that the respondent used most. Many respondents checked more than one answer! How do I deal with that?

I guess focusing on these somewhat trivial decisions lets me steer clear of actually trying to make sense of the aggregated responses. Time to get back to work and start crunching these numbers!!

Categories: Research Tags: ,

Undergraduate research at the University of Victoria: My perspective

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

To find out more about undergraduate research scholarships at the University of Victoria, click here.

Video credit: Dr. Elizabeth Grove-White, University of Victoria.

Data collection: A lesson in time management

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

With my survey and experiment less starting in less than two hours, I am finally feeling like things are under control.

“Just a short survey, conducting it is not a big deal,” I thought. Boy, was I wrong! The printing went smoothly, but there were additional hours I hadn’t anticipated. Folding 200 surveys takes longer than you’d think! And then I had to staple them too (three pages fold together to form a booklet).

I did get some things done ahead of schedule: The psychology department kindly lent me a box of golf pencils, I quickly used EViews to get a random number list, and my #1 assistant (i.e., my mother) got the 200 toonies for me from the bank. All seemed to be on track.

The experiment part of tonight’s research involves giving participants $2 as compensation for completing the survey. The $2 is given in three different ways. This is the part that I left to the last minute to actually put together (big mistake!).

One group of surveys has the $2 coin attached to the back, the second group has a voucher attached to the back, and the third group tells the participant to hand in their survey and that they “could donate [their compensation] to The Commons.” The random number list assigns a type of survey with the participant (much more high-tech than it sounds).

After three or four hours of tedious work this afternoon everything is on track! Somehow I managed to get everything done–most likely because I’ve been working away at bits of it all week. The lesson? Things always take longer than you think they will; be sure to leave some buffer room.

Time to have a cup of tea and enjoy the calm before the storm!

Research at the University of Victoria

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Wondering where research happens at UVic? Other than specific faculty research, the map below outlines the key locations of research development. Consider using this map as a reference for starting your undergraduate research.

The Office of Community Based Research is a great place for resource tools, but perhaps the best place to start, and where you’ll spend the most of your time, is UVic’s McPherson Library.

Looking for an undergraduate research scholarship? Check out the Learning and Teaching Centre in the Hickman Building.

Finally, if you’re doing primary research, you may have to apply for approval from the Ethics Board, located in the Administrative Services Building. Happy researching!

What’s next for social media?

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

As an economics major, I get to do a lot of forecasting. In a social media context I’ll have to step away from regression analysis and hypothesis testing (which would show an increase in demand for social media, I’m sure) to give you a preview for where I think social media is going.

What I’m looking forward to most about the next stage of social media is what I call virtual shopping. The less exciting, but perhaps equally important change (depending on your interests), is a move to universal computation.

I see virtual shopping as the next step to increasing our productivity. Getting to the mall and spending the hours browsing in stores for our shopping needs will be a thing of the past. It is time-consuming, and hassles such as parking, long lines, and crowds will make shopping from home more attractive. Online shopping is still very primitive compared to what it will be in the future. I foresee a user-tailored shopping experience that lets you preview what clothes will look like on you, will tell you your size, and will make suggestions for you based on your preferences. Shipping charges will go down, and I don’t see virtual shopping as being limited to clothing.

Products for infants, seniors, and busy students will also be successful with this model of social media. Though the joy of in-store shopping will still be prevalent, its time-consuming nature will force it as a thing of the past.

I am looking forward to being able to shop this way.

The less exciting avenue I predict social media will take is a move to universal computation, by which I mean that software will be usable for all devices.  All cell phones will have the same chargers, all media players will use the same file format, and the battle between Mac and PC will work itself out to make everything compatible. Users are getting sick and tired of having to use adapters, different software, and different interfaces to do the same things on different devices. Though the industries behind both “sides” are huge, I foresee a limit of two or three systems, not the many that are in our technology market today.

What does this mean for academia? It means we’ll be able to spend more time studying than shopping, and that we’ll be able to use software more efficiently and effectively. I, for one, can’t wait!