“The Minimum Legal Drinking Age and Public Health”
Christopher Carpenter and Carlos Dobkin
Journal of Economic Perspectives 25 (2011): 133 – 156.
Article Summary Guidance
You will be writing approximately five summaries for this course. There are potentially three types
of articles and chapters you will summarize:
1) original research articles characterized by a question, empirical design, data, and results;
2) “guides” that detail what researchers have learned about best research practices;
3) chapters from the assigned text.
The readings are selected to be at the appropriate level for this course. You should read them
carefully, as this will be reflected in the quality of your summary. Summaries will be graded on
completion and quality (including the quality of your understanding and writing).
The summary should be 500-600 words (about one page with three single spaced paragraphs). You
should make sure to include your full name and the title of the article / chapter you are summarizing
in the upper left-hand corner. The summary should highlight the key results of the article or
chapter. It should not be a copy of the abstract or introduction, and should reflect your own
takeaways from reading the article or chapter. It must be written in your own words (plagiarism is
a violation of university policy).
For those struggling with what to discuss in the summary, the following provides one potential
approach to organize your writing.
In the first paragraph, you may want to discuss the question being answered or discussed, the
context of the research (i.e., what policy or experiment, location, etc.), the empirical design being
used or discussed (experiment, regression discontinuity, etc.), and the data being used.
In the second paragraph, you may want to discuss the primary results of the paper. This may
involve describing how the paper proves that the empirical design is valid for establishing causal
effects. You will want to highlight the primary empirical results, referencing actual numbers and
regression results from the study with the correct units, and mention whether the results are
statistically significant. [For a “guide to practice”, you will want to detail which practices the
article concludes are best, and which are problematic.]
In the third paragraph, you may want to highlight the primary takeaways from the article. That is,
how do the empirical results answer the question used to motivate the study. You may also want
to discuss: any additional results of interest; any weaknesses or concerns that are highlighted in
the study; any additional research that the paper recommends.
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