ECON 496S: Honors Seminar II

Reader requirements: Professionals in economics (and if possible,experience related to the students individual projects, if I learn what those are in time).

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information:

Instructor: Professors Grace Kim and Kent Kimbrough

Following Economics 495S, iterative forum for conducting original research culminating in a substantive research project suitable for submission as an honors thesis.

Student Writing Assignment:

What are students writing? They are writing honors thesis: project papers about 12,000-20,000 words.

For whom? For themselves, their advisor and instructor, in the first instance, but also for whoever else might be interested in the topic. However, the thesis is not distributed, but it is stored permanently in the Duke library as a source that anyone can access.

Where would such writing typically be found? The writing is akin to academic journal writing.

Why would someone usually read it? Because they are interested in the topic.


The timeline is entirely up to the student and reader to work out together. Here are a few guidelines though:

MTG 1: Intro mtg: discuss proposal (Students will have written this by December)
MTG 2: Feb:  1st rough draft
MTG 3: After Spring break: revised draft due
Optional MTG: Around April 10: Revised draft due
*Meetings should be within one week of due date for drafts



ECON 496S_ Syllabus_S18_Kent K


Giving Feedback (general information that will apply to most courses):

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More

Instructor’s response questions (things for the volunteers for this specific course to consider when reading student’s work):

  • Does the student do a good job framing and presenting the research question? What parts of the introduction are especially helpful in understanding the student’s research problem and its importance?
  • Is it clear how this research fits in with prior research (shows a gap)?
  • In the results and discussion parts: which passages do you find particularly compelling? Where are you skeptical? Which parts are presented logically? Which parts are confusing?
  • Does the results address the hypotheses or what is missing (e.g., is the student answering what they think they have asked)?

Reader feedback example:

PubPol 496 Thesis feedback example