Writing Plan Phases
Collecting Baseline Data
First Edition Writing Plan
Second Edition Writing Plan
Third Edition Writing Plan
  • phase completed
  • phase in-progress

The Department of Applied Economics, in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), offers teaching, research, and outreach programs in four broad areas: food and agricultural economics; environmental and resource economics; growth, development, and trade; and public sector economics. With two customizable undergraduate majors, the programs balance lower-division coursework in the liberal arts with upper-division training in economic theory and the functional areas of business management. The nearly 300 students in both majors are charged with developing strong critical thinking skills, data analysis proficiency, and the ability to communicate effectively to diverse governmental, business, and private sector audiences.

Applied Economics Writing Plan

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Writing in Applied Economics

The Applied Economics faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “What characterizes academic and professional communication in this discipline?"


  • About quantitative information-word choice, number choice; correctly interpreting and creating data/figures
  • Correct application of economic concepts/theory
  • Correctly cited


  • Uses economic concepts and theory to understand situations, issues, and outcomes from multiple perspectives Makes evidence-based recommendations and shows effective professional judgment
  • Provides thorough description of a process, outcomes, results, impacts (winners/losers) 

Clear and concise:

  • Precise use of terminology, no excess jargon, not overly-technical 
  • Brief, not overly wordy and no extraneous information or redundancy 

Coherent and cohesive:

  • Logical, intuitive, organization- meets the expectations of the audience 


  • Presents an easy to follow logic or story
  • Takes the reader through the writer's thought process: reader can figure out how you got what you got (they can go with you, can follow the story)
  • Addresses a focal question or problem with relevant information, i.e., information that applies to given context and situation


  • Supports claims and recommendations with the best available evidence 
  • Considers multiple perspectives and addresses potential counterarguments 
  • Effective in its ability to address target audiences (government officials, policymakers, industry participants, academics, consumers, farmers, public, business in general, spouses, politicians, media, clients in general)


  • Honest - not stretching to reach conclusions

Writing Abilities Expected of Applied Economics Majors

The Applied Economics faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “With which writing abilities should students in this unit’s major(s) graduate?”

Minimum Requirements for Writing in the Major:

Present and discuss quantitative information clearly and accurately:

  • Use field-specific terminology
  • Interpret quantitative/graphical data (demonstrate quantitative literacy)
  • Present data objectively (vs. subjectively)
  • Make appropriate choices about which data is represented in informative figures (not dropping figures in from source information)
  • Make appropriate choices about the graphical presentation (type of chart, amount of annotation, etc.)
  • Prepare effective presentations

Apply economic concepts/business principles in analysis of problem:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the context or environment of a problem or process
  • Describe and evaluate assumptions and logic
  • Describe the processes or mechanism that will lead/did lead to a result
  • Describe the method of analysis, information gathered, the results obtained
  • Use economic concepts and theory to understand situations, issues, and outcomes
  • Construct thesis and counter-thesis in economic terms
  • Recognize and describe patterns, likeness, groupings, similarities, differences; interpret and explain others' work
  • Describe a financial decision, use a model to analyze it, determine which inputs are required and know how to analyze the results
  • Predict and explain outcomes and impacts, benefits & costs, winners and losers

Organize material logically:

  • Present a clear introductory statement or paragraph
  • Identify and prioritize key issues, steps, and concepts such that readers know where they are going at all times
  • Highlight key findings, show how they were calculated or derived, and explain any variation or limits

Communicate clearly and concisely:

  • Highlight key findings as the focal point of communication
  • Address a target audience using the right technical level, and apt levels of jargon
  • Avoid repetition and wordiness; choose appropriate words
  • Write with concise and grammatically correct sentences

Write persuasively:

  • Make a reasoned argument and evidence that argument using key literature/background/data for support
  • Summarize relevant information concisely; capture the essence of a situation or debate
  • Synthesize information from multiple sources to extend it into new contexts which results in new understanding
  • Address multiple sides, perspectives
  • Find their own voices and convey individual perspectives and points of view in a logical and convincing manner

Engage in constructive writing process:

  • Give and receive feedback about writing
  • Constructively analyze and revise one's own writing

Menu of Grading Criteria Used in Applied Economics Courses

  1. Articulates a debatable position that can be supported by evidence.

  2. Supports a central argument with relevant literature, contrasting positions and data.

  3. Consistently addresses a target audience with appropriate style and terminology.

  4. Organizes material logically and explicitly highlights key findings such that the readers know what is important and where they are going at all times.

  5. Presents summary of data in ways that are standard in economics (e.g., means, standard deviations, histograms), with captions and citations.

  6. Demonstrates an accurate understanding of relevant economic concepts.

  7. Applies economics concepts/business principles in appropriate context or environment.

  8. Provides justifications for measures, calculations, and applications.

  9. Describes patterns, likenesses, groupings, similarities and differences to interpret and explain others' work.

  10. Identifies both significant results and important variables.

Highlights from the Writing Plan

In its third-edition Writing Plan, the department will continue to expand its sustained engagement with writing, focusing intensively on writing in the contexts of quantitative analysis. The analysis and interpretation of quantitative data are at the heart of the discipline’s work, and students develop their writing abilities alongside skills of data analysis and management. Using information from students, industry partners, and their most recent writing assessment, faculty members continue to design assignments and assessments that help to prepare students to contribute immediately to the field upon graduation. Faculty and instructors continue to meet regularly and share resources for teaching with writing and evaluating students’ written work.