Carleton College Learning and Teaching Center > Writing Across the Curriculum with Numbers > Assignments > Understanding the Economics Literature Through Maps

Understanding the Economics Literature Through Maps

Aaron Swoboda, Carleton College
Author Profile
This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this assignment, students explore a focused area of the economics literature to determine the relevant research questions, methodologies, and debates. The final deliverable is a "map" of 4-5 related articles. The map should emphasize the relationships between the articles and characterize the larger themes in the area of research.

Learning Goals

Learn how to search the economics literature using database tools (, Social Science Citation Index, etc.)
Practice deconstructing primary articles in economics (identification of Research Questions, methodologies, data sources, etc.)
Learn to place individual articles within their larger context within the field.

Context for Use

This assignment is meant for an intermediate-level course in which students are prepared to read primary economics literature. It is meant to prepare students to conduct a thorough Literature Review, perhaps as part of an original research project.

Description and Teaching Materials

* This assignment first asks students to read an economics journal article like a scholar in the field, determining the article's research question, claim, contribution to the literature, data, methodology, and evidence.

* It then asks students to use information literacy tools to find 3-4 other articles linked to this original article through citations.

* The final deliverable is to create a "map" of these articles. The map should describe the relationships between the articles as well as the larger themes in this area of the literature.

Teaching Notes and Tips


References and Resources