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AALTO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS Department of Economics Spring 2012

Guidelines for writing Bachelors Thesis

Bachelors Thesis in Economics In Aalto University School of Business 21.5.2012 Thesis writer: XX Opponent: YY Thesis supervisor: ZZ

Table of contents
1. AIM.......................................................................................................................................................... 2 2. SELECTING THE TOPIC .............................................................................................................................. 2 3. LOOKING FOR LITERATURE ....................................................................................................................... 2 4. ORGANIZING YOUR THESIS....................................................................................................................... 4 5. STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS ...................................................................................................................... 4 6. MANNER OF REPRESENTATION ................................................................................................................ 6 6.1 Clarity and consistency ....................................................................................................................... 6 6.2 Table of contents and titles ................................................................................................................ 7 6.3 References ......................................................................................................................................... 7 6.4 References in the text ........................................................................................................................ 8 6.5 Tables and figures .............................................................................................................................. 9 6.6 Layout and printing ............................................................................................................................ 9 6.7 Amplitude of the Thesis...................................................................................................................... 9 6.8 Oral presentation ............................................................................................................................... 9 7. OPPONENTS ............................................................................................................................................10 8. RESEARCH PLAN......................................................................................................................................10 9. GUIDES ...................................................................................................................................................11

1. AIM
Planning, writing, and presenting your Bachelors Thesis is aimed at teaching you how to do academic research in the field of economics. Thesis itself, as well as defending it and acting as opponent to other students works are proofs of your economic education, special knowledge of your research topic, and mastering research methodologies. Goal of the Bachelors Seminar is also to learn a clear and concise manner of presenting your research; both orally and in writing. In order to carry out good Seminar participation you must finish your work on time and also read other Seminar participants Theses.

2. SELECTING THE TOPIC


Bachelors Thesis does not need to contain new scientific results. In most cases, Thesis is a literature review on previous research. Thesis can thus be a clear and thorough discussion and critical evaluation of an already examined topic and presented theories (often just one), that you then embody into a larger context. Thesis can also include a review of previous empirical research. A small-scale empirical or theoretical work of your own is of course always an advantage. Topic of the Bachelors Thesis is worth to choose from the same theme that you would later do your Masters Thesis on. For most of you, that is however not yet clear and so you should base your topic selection on the groundings you already possess, that is themes of the courses you have already taken before the Seminar starts. It is highly important to choose a topic that you are truly interested in, so that the writing does not turn into a repulsive and forced task. Ideas for topics can be drawn for example from academic journals. You can also turn to the professor in charge at the beginning of the Seminar. The topic is agreed during the first meetings. A good topic is a specific problem, a question that your Thesis then gives an answer to. A good topic is defined to discuss a question narrow enough. Broader topics are more difficult, as you should then familiarize yourself with a vast amount of literature and a number of theories.

3. LOOKING FOR LITERATURE


When a suitable topic is found, next step is to get familiarized with previous literature. Because there is a huge supply of available literature, you need to choose with care the ones you will read. It is suggested that you follow the order below. i. Ask for appropriate literature from the professor in charge of the Seminar or search from the academic staff of our department a suitable person that is in acquaintance with your topic. You can

3 go and see that person during office hours and inquire for apt literature. In most cases this is how you will acquire all the literature you need. If the above mentioned however does not work for you, do the following: ii. Look for information on your topic in basic course text books. They usually contain the most relevant and important information. They also include references to original publications. You can also search literature from library databases in the digital campus library . The problem is often that references are plenty, sometimes even to excess. For example looking for deposit insurance in EBSCO Business Source gives you more than 10,000 hits, from which you should be able to pick the most important ones. It is hard to figure out the top references. If you restrict the search to scholarly journals, the amount of references drops already considerably (1,429 references). One way of finding out the most relevant articles is the following: look for 10-15 newest articles on your topic and read the introduction chapters in those. Pay attention to the cited references; if five of those introduction chapters cite article Y, you should also search that one and read it. So you should choose those articles that are being cited most often. iv. You can also utilize so called survey articles that draw a summary on the most important research during the last couple of decades. These articles are usually recognized from the word survey that appears in the title or abstract. As an example:
Shleifer, A. and R. Vishny (1997): A survey of corporate governance, Journal of Finance LII (2), 737783.

iii.

The most important journal that publishes surveys on economic research is Journal of Economic Literature, but surveys are also being published in many other journals. Journal of Economic Perspectives publishes researchers says on topical themes. Often these articles offer a good review of the theme. From databases SSRN Social Science research network and NBER National Bureau of Economic Research you can browse through and print the newest articles.

After you have managed to pin down the most important articles, you have to seek them out. If you cannot print the article straight from the database, you have to search for it yourself. There are different possibilities for that. a. When it is an article from a scholarly journal, you can start by searching the journals homepage. From there, articles are often available for printing. Through the Aalto University digital campus library you can get to read most of them. b. If it is a publication of some organization (IMF, World Bank, OECD) you should search the homepage of that organization, look for publications and search for the article in question. You can also take a look in the Aalto University digital campus library.

c. Google the name of the article and that of the author(s), you can also use Google Scholar. Most of the articles can be found this way. d. Look for the article or its earlier version in databases Econlit, Proquest, EBSCO, SSRN, NBER, JSTOR. e. Search in LINDA database for the library where the journal is ordered. Then go on the spot and copy the material you need. You probably need to use this procedure especially if you look for books as printing books online is usually prevented.

You may want to start your search from Google Scholar and try next the Econlit, Proquest database.

4. ORGANIZING YOUR THESIS


Bachelors Theses are typically literature reviews. In order to get the highest grade does not require any scientific contribution of your own. Main emphasis in grading Theses is the clarity of the presentation and your ability to perceive different aspects of the problem you study. Organizing your Thesis is important for the clarity of your research. You should sketch a preliminary structure already when you define your research question. At first the structuring is very crude, but gets more detailed as you proceed with your writing. The lucidity of the structure is essential and crucial for the success of your Thesis, albeit it is often also the most difficult part. Comments you get from your opponent, fellow students, and the professor in charge can help you tremendously.

5. STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS


The structure of the Bachelors Thesis is practically the same as in any other article in a scientific journal, that is: Table of contents Abstract 1. Introduction 2.,3., Discussion of the topic X. Conclusions Appendices References

5 Abstract Abstract should be written last. It gives a short review (10 to 15 lines) of the research question and key results. Often it is also stated what type of research it is literature review, empirical work, or theoretical model. Below you can find as an example the abstract from Holmstrm and Tirole (1997) 1
We study an incentive model of financial intermediation in which firms as well as intermediaries are capital constrained. We analyze how the distribution of wealth across firms, intermediaries, and uninformed investors affects investment, interest rates, and the intensity of monitoring. We show that all forms of capital tightening (a credit crunch, a collateral squeeze, or a savings squeeze) hit poorly capitalized firms the hardest, but that interest rate effects and the intensity of monitoring will depend on relative changes in the various components of capital. The predictions of the model are broadly consistent with the lending patterns observed during the recent financial crises.

First they tell the reader that it is a theoretical model they aim to build. First two sentences introduce the reader to the research problem they want to address. Introduction proceeds from a more generic picture (bank model) to a more and more elaborate description of the research question. Third sentence presents the key results. The last sentence endorses the fact that results are in line with reality. Introduction Introduction is quite formalistic in scientific journal articles. Content and order that can be deviated from are in principle the following: i. Introduction to the topic. This part leads the reader step by step into the research problem in hand. You can also motivate the topic here and let the reader know why it is important to study. For example Jane Mitchell (2001) starts her paper on failed banks by describing the magnitude of the problem2

Many countries throughout the developing and industrialized world have suffered banking crises in recent years. Lindgren et al. (1996) estimated that in the decade and half prior to the early 1990s over 130 countries experienced some degree of financial difficulty. Of these, 36 cuontries were judged to have experienced a banking crisis. The Asian crises have undoubtedly added severe more countries to the list.

Introduction also contains the most important research articles on your topic. Number of introduced articles varies by publications, but an appropriate amount would be around 10 to 15.

ii.

How your study relates to previous literature. You should describe how your own work adds to the prevailing literature. Is there a special gap in current literature that you try to fill? Usually the research problem is being stated most precisely: The aim of this research is. In addition you must define the research question, tell the reader about the most important references and the possible data you are using, as well as the Thesis type (literature review, empirical study, or a theoretical model). In many cases, the importance of the topic is again being justified here.

Homstrm & Tirole (1997): Financial intermediation, loanable funds, and the real sector Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(3), 663-691 2 Jane Mitchell (2001): Bad debts and the cleaning of banks balance sheets: an application to transition economies Journal of Financial Intermediation 10, 1-27

6 iii. Your results. Even if your work is a literature review, it is useful to state separately the results of the survey. The contents of your research. Often the introduction chapter ends with a description of how the article proceeds. You should advance one chapter at a time:
In chapter 1 I present a searching model for unemployment. Extensions from this basic model are being presented in chapter 2. Chapter 3 discusses empirical research done on the topic. Chapter 4 concludes and considers what kinds of policy measures could be made to reduce unemployment based on these searching models.

iv.

Writing an introduction chapter follows quite slavishly the structure above. Your Bachelors Thesis should also follow the same order. If some part does not naturally go with your work, it can be dropped out. Bachelors Theses usually do not fill any gaps in the literature and so that part can be easily ignored.

Actual discussion of the topic You should go through everything that is relevant to your study and do it thoroughly.

Conclusions Conclusion is at the end of the paper. The content is the following: Repetition of the key results Recommendations based on the results / general discussion Discussion of the assumptions and restrictions made Possible proposals for future research NB! The central message of your research is made known to the reader four times: in the abstract, in the introduction, in the actual text part, and finally in the conclusions.

6. MANNER OF REPRESENTATION
6.1 Clarity and consistency
Regardless of the topic, you should aim for clarity and consistency throughout your Thesis. Make sure that you understand each and every word you write and that there are no blackouts in how your work proceeds. By limiting the amount of basic ideas to 1-3 you can make your work easily understandable. Remember that:

7 You write your Thesis to your own Seminar group. Keep this in mind, when you make assumptions on what things and concepts you do and do not need to define. State the most important definitions already in the beginning of your Thesis, or at the beginning of the part of the text you are going to use them. Explain the concepts and symbols as they appear the first time. Take notice on the style of your Thesis knowingly and try to keep the same style throughout your work. See that the titles in figures, tables, and chapters are representational, consistent, and in line with the rest of the text.

6.2 Table of contents and titles


You must have a table of contents in your Thesis, where you present all chapter titles with page number references. Form your titles so that it is easy for the reader to get an idea of the content and structure of your work. To use a couple of subtitles facilitates the reading considerably. Equivalent parts of the work should have approximately equivalent titles.

6.3 References
The list of references contains only those references that are cited in the text (and in footnotes). List of reference is presented in alphabetical order separately for literary references and other references. Books can be marked in the list of references in the following manner:
Black, Fisher, Michael C. Jensen and Myron S. Scholes (1972) The Capital Asset Pricing Model: Some Empirical Tests, in Michael C. Jensen (publ.) Studies in the theory of Capital Markets, New York, NY, Preager, 79-121

or
Huang, Chi-fu and Robert H. Litzenberger (1988) Foundations for Financial Economics, New York, NY, North Holland

Articles are cited similarly. Volumes and years of the journal publications must be accurate. For example:
Gultekin, Mustafa, Bulent Gultekin and Alessandro Penati (1989) Capital Controls and International Capital Market Segmentation: The Evidence from the Japanese and American Stock Markets, Journal of Finance 44, 849-869

Glancing through scholarly journals you can observe that the way references are cited depends on the journal. Whatever style you choose, make sure that you keep it throughout your work. References to webpages can be cited as below:

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Klaus Kultti Hannu Salonen (2005) Minimum Norm Solutions for Cooperative Games, Discussion Paper No 67 / May 2005, http://ethesis.helsinki.fi/erihecdis.html

So the citation is otherwise similar to the ones above, except that the address of the webpage is added at the end. Some even mention when they have visited the webpage in question (visited 2.9.2005).

If you are using information obtained in an interview, you should give the following information on the person(s) you have interviewed: 1. Position or degree, completely and most precisely. 2. Name, as the interviewee uses for him/herself. 3. Name of the organization or department that he/she works for if it is relevant for your research.

6.4 References in the text


When you cite directly or indirectly information obtained from literature, interviews, or inquiries you must always mention the reference inside your text. There is no one and only shape for references, you can find convenient styles in journal articles. Often used in economics are references placed inside text. ex. 1 ex. 2 Fama (1991) claims that There exists a broad literature (see for ex. Fama (1991)).

Same can be presented with footnotes (however dont use this!) ex. 3 There exists a broad literature. 3

If you have multiple references by the same author(s) from same year, you can add a letter symbol to the year by writing Fama (1991a), Fama (1991b) and so on. When you cite a specific part of an article you must include exact page numbers; for ex. Fama (1991a), pp.1582-1583. You must include references straight after the citation. Avoid long citations. Also, dont just use citations in the beginning or in the end of sections. Never use citations in titles or headings. When you want to show that the citation refers to a specific clause or sentence in your text, write the reference before the punctuation mark. Respectively, if you refer to a whole paragraph write the reference after the punctuation mark. Write direct citations in quotes. When a whole chapter is based on the same source, tell it at the beginning of the chapter, for ex. Next I will study the model by Merton (1969).

Look for ex. Fama (1991)

9 Remember that footnotes are handy when you want to add observations and remarks without compromising the legibility and fluency of your text.

6.5 Tables and figures


Include the following information to all your figures and tables 1. Number in chronological order from the beginning 2. Title 3. Source (if figure or table is taken from somewhere)

6.6 Layout and printing


Bachelors Thesis should include a cover page that can be like the cover page in this Bachelors Seminar Instructions booklet. Printing custom depends according to the professor in charge of the seminar. It will be announced separately.

6.7 Amplitude of the Thesis


Bachelors Thesis should be long enough so that topic is being diversely covered and research questions get answered. Adequate length is about 18-25 pages. Thesis that is over 25 pages will be suitable only if the text is concise and include nothing but necessary information.

6.8 Oral presentation


Presentation is not a proof of your reading skills. During the presentation you should tell your research problem and the most important earlier studies on the topic. Describe the content of your work and the results you obtained. Using Power Point is highly recommended as it clarifies the presentation. Appropriate length is 10 to 15 minutes.

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7. OPPONENTS
Opponent must cover the whole work written so far as well as the oral presentation, including references (those that have been used but also those relevant references that were omitted). Naturally one must include observed inaccuracies and shortcomings. In addition, opponent must bring out the good features of the Thesis, as well as his/her own point of views and possible some additional material etc. The opponent work can be carried out in the following order: 1. Objectives and Thesis outline. Is the title appropriate, does it cover the research area; has the writer achieved his goals? Would the opponent formulate the objectives or outline differently? 2. Structure of the work. Has different parts of the work being emphasized correctly, does the work progress logically? 3. Way of dealing with the subject. Would there be some alternative, better ways? What are the justifications writer has given to his/her choices? 4. Inaccuracies and shortcomings 5. Formal flaws in language, references, table of contents, and the technical layout of the work 6. Final statement (conclusion) and proposals for improvement. Opponent must emphasize on the principles of the Thesis (items 1-3 in this list). If some sorts of mistakes appear regularly, it is enough to mention them once and give some examples.

NB! Opponents must give a systematic and critical evaluation of the seminar work. This is not achieved by going through the Thesis page by page and dealing with subject issues, technicalities, and side issues respectively as they appear.

8. RESEARCH PLAN
Before the actual Bachelors Thesis and final presentation, you will write down and present your research plan. Idea is to get you going with the writing as well as make certain that you are on the right track with your work and there are no insurmountable problems. Research plan consist of a 2-3 pages written report and a 5 minutes presentation. In the research plan you should include the following: Presentation of the topic clear enough so that all seminar participants can follow Justification of the topics importance Definition of your topic Couple of literature references. What is already known about the topic? Are you sure you will find enough literature? Precise research question and its importance The type of study: literature review, empirical work (data and methodology), case-study, and so on.. Anticipated results

11 Research plan should be written with line spacing 2, with usual margins. Cover page must include the name of the Thesis, your name, email address, date and the text Bachelors Seminar.

9. GUIDES
There are many how-to guides for writing Theses in English that you can find online. Here are a couple of references you can turn to:

McCloskey, D. (1985): Economical writing. Economic Inquiry, XXIV, 187-222 Sonnenchein, H. and Hodges, D. (1980): Manual for Econometrica authors. Econometrica, 48, 1073-1082 Thomson, W. (1999): The young persons guide to writing economic theory. Journal of economic literature, XXXVII, 157-183