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Group Research Paper Information & Guidelines
Acknowledgement of These Guidelines
You are required to sign and date an acknowledgement that you have read and understand these
guidelines. The deadline to sign and submit your acknowledgement is Jan 15, 2019. Please print
out the “Acknowledgement of Group Research Paper Guidelines” document, which can be found
on our Canvas course site in the Course Materials module, sign and date it, and turn it in to me
(either in class or to my office) by the deadline.
Applications in Environmental Economics
The class will split up into groups of four to five students each. To keep things fair, groups will be
chosen randomly. The group assignment drawing will be held in class on Jan. 15, 2019. Any
students not in class that day will be randomly assigned to a group by Prof. Oliver.
Each group is required to choose and research a topic related to environmental and/or natural
resource economics and write an original paper applying the concepts and/or theories we have
learned (or will learn) in this class. The range of acceptable topics is very broad, but each group’s
topic is subject to approval by me (Prof. Oliver). To ensure that a given topic is appropriate, each
group must write a 1-2 page research proposal, to be turned in no later than Jan. 31, 2019. Early
submissions are encouraged; whereas late submissions will be penalized 1 point per day late. The
research proposal will count as 5% of the total project grade. 1
***For groups of students in the undergraduate sections (ECON 4440), an empirical (i.e.,
econometric) analysis is NOT required. What is required is to apply the key concepts and/or
theories from the class to your group’s topic.
The final paper will count as 70% of the project grade, and the remaining 25% will be different for
each individual based on participation (more on that later). The final paper must be submitted no
later than April 23, 2019 (the last day of class). Here also, early submissions are welcome, but late
submissions will be penalized 5 points per day late. There is no required length for this paper,
although I would suggest trying to keep it between 10 and 20 pages. If you go less than 10 pages,
you better have made a really amazing argument that demonstrates you thoroughly researched your
topic. If you go over 20 pages, you better be an amazing writer with a lot of very relevant things to
say that can keep my attention for such an extended-length paper!!! Groups should submit their
proposals and final papers via email as a PDF file attachment.
Formatting Instructions 2
Should your group decide to change its research topic after the proposal has been submitted and approved,
you do not need to write a new proposal. However, you must schedule a group meeting with me (Prof. Oliver)
to make sure the new topic is acceptable.
Formatting instructions apply to both the research proposal and the final paper.
Only typed submissions will be accepted. Please use 11-12 point font, at least 1.5 line-spacing, and
“justified” type-setting. Acceptable fonts are Times New Roman, Cambria, or Arial. Write any
equations using the equation editor. If you choose to use a different word-processing program than
Microsoft Word (like LaTex, for example), please ensure that you abide by similar formatting
instructions. As far as formatting references is concerned, no specific format is required—just be
consistent. If you choose to use footnotes or endnotes, I don’t care which one you use, just don’t
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar
Improper spelling, punctuation, and grammar will NOT explicitly count against you. However,
please understand that using proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar will go a long way in
helping me understand what you have written. I strongly suggest using spell-check. For those
students to whom English is a second language, I encourage you to please seek the guidance of the
Georgia Tech Language Support Center (LSC) for consultation regarding proper grammar,
spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure when writing your research paper.
It is important for you to discern between credible and non-credible references. Credible references
include (but are not necessarily limited to):
• Academic/scientific journals & periodicals (examples: Science; Nature; Journal of
Environmental Economics & Management; Ecological Economics; Energy Policy; etc.)
• Academic textbooks, other topical books containing scholarly information
• Government (or government-sponsored) reports & websites
• Industry technical reports
• Magazine & newspaper articles are allowed only for anecdotal evidence—not as
The main thing is to be sure not to cite some source that has an explicit or obvious bias/agenda
regarding your topic. For example, political or other propaganda (of any kind) is not acceptable.
In general, non-government websites are not acceptable—don’t try to cite some random guy’s blog
who claims to be an expert on the topic. A good rule of thumb is, if you have a doubt as to whether
a source is credible, it probably isn’t. You are welcome to check with me for help in determining
the credibility of a source you are unsure about.
Please be sure to cite the source(s) of any data you use as well. If you have a question about whether
a data source is acceptable, it’s probably a good idea to ask me.
Another note on references—the number and quality of your reference list is a strong indicator of
how much effort your group put into researching your country. If, for example, your final report
has five references (or less), and one of them is our class textbook, and the others are just a couple
online articles you found in 30 seconds on Google, that indicates to me that your group didn’t put
much effort into your paper.
(I shouldn’t have to say this, but…) Any student caught plagiarizing another’s work (or submitting
a paper not originally written by the student himself/herself) will receive a zero on this assignment
and will be reported to the Dean of Students immediately. If you feel that a member of your group
is plagiarizing his/her part of the written assignment, report it immediately. Do not wait until the
last minute or after the project has been submitted.
I will grade each group’s paper along five dimensions: background, content, clarity, organization,
and correctness. For each category, I will score the paper on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is “poor” and
10 is “excellent.”
Background – Does your paper demonstrate a strong effort in conducting background
research on your topic?
Content – Is the content of your paper generally in line with the requirements of the project?
In other words, does it contain an application of the concepts/methods we have learned in
Clarity – Self-explanatory. Is the paper written clearly?
Organization – Also self-explanatory. Is the paper organized logically? Does it contain a
sound introduction, main body, and conclusion?
Correctness – Is the analysis correct? In other words, are the concepts and methods applied
Therefore, your group’s research paper grade will be calculated as follows. Note that the written
report grade will be the same for all group members. Given the hypothetical scores for each
category entered below, the yellow box in the bottom right would be your group’s final paper score:
(out of 50)
(45/50 = 0.9)
Your individual participation will partly determine your grade on the group project. In other words,
different members of the same group may end up with different final grades on the group project
due to differing individual participation levels. Details on how individual participation scores are
calculated will be revealed at the end of the semester. However, for now it will suffice to tell you
that your group members’ perceptions of your individual participation will strongly affect how
your participation grade is calculated. That means your participation in group meetings, email
communications, and (obviously) the actual research and writing of the paper will factor
prominently in your individual final project grade.
Final Project Grade
As mentioned above, each individual’s final grade for the group project will be a weighted average:
5% from the proposal, 70% from the written paper, and 25% based on individual participation in
the group project. Let’s say your group turned in the research proposal on time, and your individual
participation score is a 95. That means, given the above hypothetical scores, your final group
project grade would be:
0.05(100) + 0.7(90) + 0.25(95) = 91.75
On the other hand, let’s say one of your group mates had an individual participation score of 75.
Her final project grade would be:
0.05(100) + 0.7(90) + 0.25(75) = 86.75
Intra-group Disputes & Blatant Member Non-participation Policy
Because groups are chosen randomly, the possibility may arise that a group simply does not work
well together. While minor intra-group disagreements are natural, egregiously rude, belligerent,
dishonest, or other deliberately confrontational behavior between group members will not be
tolerated. It is also possible that one member may be completely disengaged from any participation
If any such issue arises, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE SEMESTER TO TELL ME
ABOUT IT! The sooner I know about it and the more information I have, the better I will be able
to address it.
PROTOCOL FOR BLATANT NON-PARTICIPATION
If one group member is not participating at all, the following protocol must be followed:
1. First, at least one group member must contact me in writing (i.e., via email), explaining that a
member of the group (who must be named in the email) is not participating in the group project.
This must occur at least one month prior to the final project due date.
2. I will then send a formal “non-participation warning” via email to the guilty member, on which
all other group members will be copied. If the non-participator does not check his/her email
and therefore does not know that the warning has been issued, that may not be used as an
excuse for further non-participation.
3. Once a formal “non-participation warning” has been issued, if by the project submission
deadline the group member still has contributed literally nothing to the project, I will ask all
the other group members to sign a statement formally accusing that member of complete nonparticipation. Such an accusation is not to be taken lightly, and should only be levied in extreme
cases of non-participation. Once the formal accusation has been signed by all participating
group members, the entire group will then meet with me, including the non-participator, who
will have to make the following choice. The non-participator will either (i) sign a statement
accepting a final grade of ZERO on the group project, or (ii) refuse to sign and by default
receive an “Incomplete” for the course, at which point he/she will be required to complete a
research paper independently over the summer in order to get the “Incomplete” replaced with
a letter grade. Note that the non-participator must have been sent a prior “non-participation
warning” for this to occur. If no warning was issued, then the group’s only recourse is to score
the guilty member poorly on the end-of-semester individual participation survey, which will
only affect his/her individual participation portion of the final project grade.
If you have any further questions regarding this assignment, please do not hesitate to ask me. I will
be more than happy to guide you in your research, suggest potential reference sources related to
your topic, or help you in any other way I can. Good luck, and I look forward to seeing what you