MA Research Paper/Thesis guidelines
The MA Research Paper/Thesis provides an opportunity for the in-depth study of a topic in Economics, to go well beyond the scope of any specific topic covered by a lecture course. The Research Paper/Thesis requires a substantial effort (typically much more than a term paper) in order to be accepted by the Department. Apart from providing personal satisfaction, a well-done paper or MA thesis can be shown to prospective employers or to graduate departments to support admission to a PhD program. An outstanding MA Research Paper/Thesis could be published in an academic journal.
Revised, February 2021
Please note that all MA students are required to submit their MA Research Paper/Thesis draft and final version via Moodle; submissions via email will not be accepted. The site also includes essential information that students must read prior to writing their research paper or thesis. Students can access the Moodle page as follows:
The research paper or thesis might involve, for example, a critical survey of alternative approaches to a problem, the development of a new theory or a new application of an old theory, or empirical research in which existing work is extended or estimated with a different data set. The ultimate goal is to do independent and original work. The MA Research Paper/Thesis is evaluated based on the quality and originality of the research and the proper use of the methods and tools of analysis.
The Concordia Libraries have an online Economics literature database called ECONLIT, which consists of a comprehensive collection of Economics research papers and publications. Consult the Reference Librarian for further information.
The MA Research Paper/Thesis is written under the supervision of a faculty member. If you are uncertain about which faculty member is best suited to supervise your topic, you may consult our departmental website and the individual faculty members’ websites. The Graduate Program Director (GPD) is also available for guidance. Please find your supervisor first before starting to work on your research project, so you can take advantage of your supervisor's advice and feedback. You may approach a potential supervisor any time; just tell the professor about your research interests and ideas, and ask whether he/she is willing to supervise your MA Research Paper/Thesis. Instructors of elective courses with a term paper requirement often encourage students to develop their term paper into their MA Research Paper/Thesis. While this is not the only path to writing your MA Research Paper/Thesis, this provides a natural way to obtain a research topic, a supervisor, and knowledge of some of the literature on your MA Research Paper/Thesis topic, in addition to having the advantage that you can build on an already existing paper.
Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated in the MA Paper/Thesis; it is regarded as a major contravention of the University’s Academic Code of Conduct (see the section on Policies and Procedures in the Graduate Calendar) and may result in denial of graduation or expulsion from the University. The Code defines plagiarism as "the presentation of the work of another person as one's own or without proper acknowledgement" (Article 16a).
In regard to any written work, it is required that:
- Any copying (of a sentence, phrase, or section, for example) from an article or book must be enclosed in quotation marks and properly cited with reference and page (as in the definition above).
- The development or application of an argument or theory whose origin lies with another author must acknowledge the origin by proper citation.
- All data sources must be acknowledged in sufficient detail to enable computations based upon them to be verified.
- An author of any written work must distinguish the contribution made by the author as distinct from the contribution made by others.
Please consult the Moodle site for essential information that you must read prior to writing your research paper.
Once the student's supervisor deems the MA Research Paper/Thesis acceptable and has signed off on it, a copy of the paper, satisfying the format and style outlined in the Style guide tab, should be submitted to the GPD via the Moodle MA paper/thesis draft submission site. The GPD will then appoint an Examiner. The Examiner may ask for revisions of the paper, and after all suggested revisions have been made, a grade of Pass or Fail is awarded. If the grade is Pass, the final version must be submitted on the Moodle page; this version must include the MA paper title page and MA paper or thesis signature page, available on this page. A hard copy of the final version will be stored for a period of three years in the Department.
The MA Research Paper submission deadlines are as follows.
- For Spring graduation: April 1.
- For Fall graduation: August 15.
For students admitted to the MA prior to the Fall 2021: ECON 703 Master's Research Paper will be recorded on your transcript once you have applied for graduation.
For students admitted to the MA in or after the Fall 2021: ECON 705 Master's Thesis will be recorded on your transcript once you have applied for graduation.
The size of the completed paper will depend upon the topic. A standard length is around thirty (30) pages.
i) All papers must be typed double-spaced in a standard typeface on one side of the paper. The top, bottom, and right-side margins should be 1 inch and the left margin 1-1/2 inches.
ii) References should be listed at the end alphabetically in the following form:
Boadway, R., and M. Keen (1996) “Optimal direction for federal-state transfers” International Tax and Public Finance 3, 137-55.
Varian, Hal R. (1984) Microeconomic Analysis (New York: W.W. Norton).
There should be a one-to-one correspondence between the references in the list and the articles and books referred to either in the text or in footnotes. References in the text and footnotes should look like this:
Varian (1984) – for one author
Boadway and Keen (1997) – for two authors
Jones et al. (1994) – for three or more authors
iii) Footnotes should be avoided as much as possible.
iv) Manuscripts must have spiral binding with a clear plastic cover and a cardboard back.
v) The title page of each paper should follow the format presented on the Title page template provided on this webpage.
vi) The sequence of contents should be:
- Title Page (using this template)
- Signature page (using this template)
- Abstract Page (less than 200 words)
- Table of Contents
- Text of Paper
- Appendices (if necessary)