Econ 170 Santa Monica College

Guidelines for the Term Paper

Term papers will usually be around 10 pages in length (typed and double-
spaced) and under no circumstances will they exceed 20 pages. Writing a term
paper can be a rewarding experience:

  • it will enhance your knowledge and understanding of a given topic;
    • you will have the opportunity to apply economic concepts to issues
  • related to the course material; and
    • you will gain experience and confidence from thinking and writing.
    Topic choices and appropriate readings will be approved in consultation

    with the instructor. Once you have decided upon a topic, the following steps will
    result in a finished term paper:

    1. Choice of topic. Identify a general topic area and submit an interest or
      thesis statement in writing.
    2. Identification of issues. A short paper (no more than 2-3 pages)
      summarizing the major issues and/or concerns in the chosen topic
      area. The issues paper will include a short (3-5 items) bibliography of
      relevant articles in the subject area.
    3. Literature review. Focus your topic on some aspect of your issues
      paper. Prepare a thesis statement, a rough outline, and a review the
      relevant literature pertaining to your topic. You should also include a
      revised and expanded reference list based on your literature review.
    4. Rough draft. Prepare a legible, well-organized first draft of your paper.
      This step is optional for those who want a “free” reading of their paper.
      You may then revise your paper based on the comments received.
    5. Final paper. Using my comments and any new information that you
      consider appropriate, revise your rough draft.

    Your goal is to write a paper that can be understood by the typical student
    in this class. Your grade will be determined by how well you accomplish the
    assigned tasks. More specifically, I am looking for:

    • content that includes a clear statement of the issues, facts, and details
      relevant to your topic;
    • style and presentation that is clear, well-organized, and free from
      misspellings, grammatical errors, faulty punctuation, and other
      mechanical problems that obscure the meaning;
    • an internal structure that summarizes your outline of the paper,
      including an introduction, a purpose statement, a discussion of the
      previous research in the topic area relevant to your paper, a clear
      statement of the testable hypotheses and issues, and a summary-
      conclusion that includes a statement of the current status of the issue
      and implications for the future.
      For students having difficulty getting started, take time to discuss topics
      that they might consider for their papers. The range of possibilities is virtually
      limitless. For those about to embark on the medical school interview process,
      this is a perfect time to anticipate questions that might be asked during the
      interview process. Impress upon them the importance of making a favorable
      impression on the interviewers with an extensive understanding of a particular
      issue in the economics of health care.

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