Oliver Kirchkamp
[A picture of Oliver Kirchkamp]

Supervision of your scientific projects (Master theses, Dissertations, Erasmus exchange, etc.)

With your project you should show that you can do original scientific research and that you can write about it. You have trained these abilities in the essays and reports you have written so far. In your own scientific projects you show that you can apply your abilities independently. Independence does not mean that you have to complete your project without any guidance. You should consult your supervisor regularly and check that you are on track – but the work has to be done by yourself.

The research question

To demonstrate your scientific competence you have to find a good research question: If you want to skip the step “finding a research question”, here are some questions I find interesting:

Preparing supervision

If you find that I could be an appropriate supervisor for your scientific project, and if you made the above mentioned tests, please write down your answers to the above questions and send them to me. Please do not send them in a proprietary format (no doc, docx, etc.). Usually text is enough. If you think that layout is essential use postscript or pdf. Your answers will help to find out whether your project has a good chance to succeed and whether I am a good match to supervise your project.

Here are some explanations for the above questions:

Research question:
Your research question is usually one sentence, and it is actually a question, i.e. it ends with a question mark. Keep in mind: “The efficiency of mechanisms” is not a question. “Is the ABC mechanism more efficient than the DEF mechanism?” is a question. Also discuss briefly why an answer to this question is relevant for economics (i.e. why an answer might eventually help increase efficiency, reduce inequality, improve stability, etc.).
What do you know about answers to this question?
Here you briefly summarise what you already know. Include, if possible, approaches from other fields of economics (e.g. field data, theory). When you are asking for supervision this part should not be longer than 100 words. I.e. “Tentative answers to the above question have been given by Evelyn Smith (2001) and by John Miller (2002). Smith finds ABC more efficient than DEF, Miller finds the opposite. Both seem to neglect the influence of GHI...” (Please do not forget to include these references in your bibliography).
What possibilities do you have to find an answer to this question?
Include approaches from all fields of economics (field data, theory, experiments). Your summary should not be longer than 100 words. Present what you know in a structured way. “While Smith makes a theoretical argument, Miller presents some field data. Additional insight could be gained from a laboratory experiment which studies the influence of GHI on ABC and DEF as follows. If participants with similar GHI levels play both mechanisms in random order...”
What are advantages and disadvantages of the method you want to apply?
Compare alternative methods (e.g. field data, theoretical analysis,...). Explain why your approach is more suitable. Again, your summary should not be longer than 100 words.
Is it possible that your experiment yields a surprising answer?
Here briefly explain why and how different outcomes are possible. “Smith (2001) comes to the conclusion that GHI should affect positively the performance of ABC. If this is the case, ABC should have a clear advantage over DEF. The evidence of Miller (2002) suggests that GHI can also have a negative impact. Then DEF has a chance to outperform ABC...”.
Do you have an idea for an experimental design, a field study, a theoretical analysis? Is this the simplest possible approach to answer your question?
Explain briefly the cornerstones of your approach. “In contrast to the approach of Frank (2004), who just randomizes over different GHI levels, I plan to manipulate GHI with the help of a pre-experimental stimulus as follows...”
Please check your spelling, your syntax and your presentation very carefully. A bibliography provides the necessary details for your references in the text. Again, send your answers as text, not in a proprietary format.

Writing a project report, master thesis, master dissertation, etc.

The guidelines for essays also apply to project reports, master theses or dissertations: Literature: