Bolt and Gardner Paper Review

Directions Write a 5 page paper (double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point font, Times New Roman).

Include the relevant articles (Including the article by Bolt and Gardner) in a bibliography at the end of the paper. If you refer to a book or article, you may cite it in the following form: (Allen, 2009, p. 5).

Do not substitute extensive quotes for your own prose and analysis.

Your essay should have two equal parts: (1) a summary of the paper and its principle ideas and (2) a critical analysis of the paper.

1) Summary

Write a summary of the paper using your own words. What is the question asked by the author? What is the modeling strategy? What data is used? How is the hypothesis formulated and tested? What are the results? The purpose of this section is to summarize for others the paper in a way that lets them understand the essence of the paper and its contribution, without having to read it in detail.

2) Critique

In the critique section, take 3 or 4 major positive or negative points that you have on the paper, one at a time. In order to do this, check carefully the question, the theory/model, the link to the empirical analysis, the presentation of the data, the econometric analysis, and the results. Below is a list of questions that you might ask yourself to help you raise these points. You should not answer all of these questions, rather they are intended to help you identify where the paper’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

For a positive point, you want to argue why the question is particularly important, or the approach particularly novel, or the techniques new, or the identification strategy innovative, the data very unusual, et cetera

For a negative point, you are often looking for lack of correspondence between the idea and the model, the model and the empiricism, the empirical strategy and the conclusion. Another argument for rejecting a paper is when the paper has nothing wrong but is boring and not new in any way. If this is one of your points, then you need to refer to other works to show why this is all well known and already done.



The Question

– Is the topic clearly explained? Could the question be made more precise?

– Does the author do a good job of motivating the question in the introduction?

– Is the answer to the question obvious in advance?

– Is the question original? What is the contribution of the paper? Does the author pose a question of reasonable scope (i.e., can she reasonably hope to answer the question in a short empirical paper)?

The Model

The model need not be a formal structural model of optimizing behavior, but if it is a reduced form model, there should at least be a clear verbal description of the economic theory that is behind its specification.

– Does the model formalize the argument given by the author in the question?

– Does the model incorporate those aspects of reality that the author seems to think are important?

– Is it possible to answer the question posed by the author within the context of the model?

– Is the model elegant? Is it simple? If it is not simple, is it unnecessarily complex? Could the author attack the problem with a simpler model?

– Is the notation clean and intuitive?

– Is the model internally consistent?

– Is the estimating equation clearly related to (or preferably derived from) the model?

The Data

– Does the author present a clear description of the data?

– Does the author’s choice of a dataset seem well suited to answering the question he poses?

– If you had to replicate the author’s study five years from now, is there sufficient information in the paper about the source of the data and sample used in estimation that you could do it?

– Does the author discuss issues that may affect her estimation strategy: Is the data from a random sample? What are known sources of measurement error? If a panel, is there reason to believe that there may be cross-sectional dependence?

– Does the author present summary statistics, and make good use of them to motivate the question or some specific aspects of her analysis?


Results and Conclusion

– Are the results clearly stated and presented?

– Are they used in some interesting way (beyond quoting the value of the parameters and their standard errors)?

– Are the results related back to the question?

– Are appropriate caveat mentioned?

– Do the conclusions concisely summarize the main points of the paper?

– Are the conclusions reached by the author well supported by the evidence?

– Are you convinced? What did you learn from this paper?

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