• 100 Useful Research Tools for Amateur Economists

    Jun 8th, 2009

    You don’t have to be a professional economist to do some really great research on the web. Whether you’re looking into historical trends, modern buying patterns or the latest stats on the global financial market you won’t find any shortage of information to keep you interested. Here are 100 great resources to utilize that can help you find, organize and understand your economic research.

    General Tools

    These tools offer some great general research material, help getting it all organized and some essential search capabilities.

    1. Internet Resources for Economists: This extensive list will direct you towards journals, economic research institutions, software and more that can be helpful in your search for information.
    2. American Economic Association: Here you’ll find a wealth of resources including journals, papers and links to members who may be able to help you in your research.
    3. Economics Interactive: This site gives some assistance in learning the basic terms and practices of economics and can be a good reference for more in-depth study.
    4. VoxEU: Check out this site to find news, debates over economic issues, resources and more.
    5. Zotero: Users of Firefox can take advantage of this tool that can make creating a bibliography and storing resources a snap.
    6. Google Scholar: This specialized search engine will troll through online resources like books and journals to help you find materials relevant to your interests.
    7. Making of America: This Cornell University resource offers a digital library of primary documents from antebellum period through reconstruction. It can be a great way to gain historical background and learn about economic points of view from the time period.
    8. The Independent Review: The Independent Institute aims to foster government reform and someof their work is centered on economic issues. You’ll find their research and additional articles here.
    9. The Economist: A popular read for many interested in finance or economics, this magazine offers a great collection of articles as well as a number of useful research tools for finding what you need.
    10. The Cato Journal: With research that supports individual liberties, free markets and peace, you’re bound to find something of interest in the publications of this institute.

    Academic Journals

    These journals will help you find authoritative and accurate information in the field and many contain articles from decades of publications.

    1. Journal of Economic Theory: This journal is maintained by New York University and Cornell University. Users can find recent issues available online.
    2. Journal of Political Economy: While the majority of the information on this site is available only to subscribers, articles from 1892-1922 are available for free, making for great historical research material.
    3. Quarterly Journal of Economics: This MIT published journal will keep you informed about all the goings on in Economics.
    4. Review of Economic Studies: Established in 1933, this economic journal is published by University College in London and can provide many free articles.
    5. Journal of Public Economics: This journal focuses on issues of public economics, encouraging scholarship that applies economic theory and quantitative analysis.
    6. Journal of Economic Literature: Published by the American Economic Association, this journal is a great free read for anyone looking into economics issues. To get full access, however, you’ll need to be a member of the AEA.
    7. Research Papers in Economics: With resources coming from 67 countries, this site will allow you to see the breadth of economic research and writing being done.
    8. Economic Issues: This journal is published twice a year, and their online site offers book reviews and article abstracts for all major material.
    9. E-Journal of Business and Economic Issues: The information in this online publication will allow you to better understand the intersection between business practices and the larger economic sphere.
    10. Econ Journal Watch: Here you’ll find a journal that not only publishes great scholarly article but encourages comments and debates about them as well so you’ll know if you’re reading something controversial or debatable.
    11. Economics : the Open-Access, Open-Assessment e-Journal: This open source journal offers free access to hundreds of articles and scholarly papers.
    12. Economics Bulletin: You can search through this publication to read articles old and new.
    13. The European Journal of Comparative Economics: Check out this online journal to read about issues specific to the field of comparative economics.
    14. Weekly Report: While published in Germany, this scholarly publication offers information in English as well.
    15. Open Economics Journal: This free access journal offers original research articles, reviews and short articles on economic policy and theory.

    Economic Databases

    These databases combine articles, books, and other resources into one easily accessible place.

    1. ECONIS: The German National Library of Economics offers this free online database searching through thousands of books, journals and resources.
    2. IDEAS: Here you’ll find a free bibliographic database on finance and economics.
    3. EconLit: Check out this site to find over 30 years of economic literature organized into one easily searchable database.
    4. ISI Journal Citation Reports: Unsure which journals are reliable and which might offer questionable information? This helpful resource can help you narrow it down and pick out the best information.
    5. ScienceDirect: Here you’ll find a large number of economics articles on a wide range of subject matter.
    6. Social Science Research Network: Search or browse through this site to find helpful information in the social sciences fields including finance and economics.
    7. American Institute for Economic Research: Some articles through this site are free while others will cost you to read. You’ll be able to find research reports, economic bulletins and research commentaries.
    8. Scirus: While the materials collected by this site are predominantly scientific, there are many economic articles and papers to be found as well. Simply enter your search and get started.
    9. Intute: Economics: This site is an excellent place to start looking for economics research material, with links to free resources in specialties like agricultural economics, fair trade, international economics and much more.

    Working Papers

    Stay on the cutting edge of research in economics by reading working papers from other scholars who are aiming to share ideas and get feedback.

    1. EconPapers: EconPapers not only offers almost 300,000 working papers but access to journal articles, books and software as well.
    2. Federal Trade Commission Working Papers: If your interest falls to the activities of the FTC, this site can be an indispensable resource.
    3. IMF Working Papers: Find out what researchers and economists at the International Monetary Fund have been working on through this searchable site.
    4. Bank of Canada Working Papers: Learn a little more about Canadian economic issues with these banking focused papers.
    5. Abstracts in Working Papers in Economics: On this site you can search through this Cambridge journal to see if there are any papers that might catch your interest.
    6. New Economic Papers: The State University of New York maintains this site that contains working papers under every topics from banking to energy economics.
    7. Econ WPA: Here you can find loads of working papers organized under the topics they cover.
    8. OCC Working Papers: Pay this site a visit to read working papers from the office of the Comptroller of Currency.

    Dictionary, Encyclopedias and Glossaries

    These helpful resources will give you all the basic information you could need about the field of economics, from simple definitions to lengthy biographies of famous economists.

    1. Accounting, Business and Economics Dictionary: Here you can find definitions for over 3,000 terms related to business and commerce subjects.
    2. Biz Ed Glossary, Diagram Bank and Acronym Finder: Check out this reference tool to find a large collection of definitions and diagrams, all related to economics or business.
    3. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: With biographies, lengthy articles and loads of information, this site is a great basic resource for any research in economics.
    4. Deardorff’s Glossary of International Economics: If you’re ever in need of a definition of a term about international economics this glossary is the first place you can look.
    5. Economicae: This illustrated encyclopedia of economics will give you definitions, bios of famous economists, mathematics of economics and much more.
    6. EH.net Encyclopedia of Economic and Business History: Pay this site a visit for high quality articles on everything from Aerospace to the World Trade Organization.
    7. Online Glossary of Research Economics: Here you’ll find terms that are specific to research economics and their definitions.
    8. Economics A-Z: The Economist provides this great research tool that will define numerous economics terms.
    9. AmosWEB Gloss-a-Rama: Search or browse through this site to find the definition of just about any business, finance or economic term.
    10. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics: This encyclopedia provides loads of information, centered on Europe, about both law and econ and the places they intersect.

    Financial Markets and Data

    Keep track of financial changes both past and present with these great tools.

    1. SIFMA: The Security Industries and Financial Markets Association maintains this blog with information on public and private financial info in the US, Europe and Asia.
    2. Global Financial Data: Pay a visit to this site to search through numerous historical and present day financial records.
    3. Financial Data Finder: This site contains a great search engine that will let you search through historical financial data, quotes, links and more.
    4. CRSP Data and Analysis: If you need a helping hand in finding and using Center for Research in Security Prices information, this site will be a great help. You’ll get links to data, help in making sense of it and a whole lot more.
    5. MeasuringWorth: Want to know how much that cheeseburger would have cost you back in 1950? This site provides a helpful guide full of historical data to compare price information over time.
    6. TickPlus Data: Check out this site to get all kinds of data covering the major European and US stock and futures exchanges.
    7. MarketWatch: Whether you want to track your own financial holdings or just get a handle on the larger market, this site can be a big help.
    8. CapitalIQ: This site can help you research individual stocks, equity funds and corporations.


    These news outlets will ensure you stay up-to-date on all the latest developments in the field.

    1. Bloomberg: Here you’ll find a great stream of information on economic news with additional reports on politics, markets, industries and more to keep you in the loop.
    2. Business Week: This publication will help you keep up with the business world, investing, and technology.
    3. CNNMoney: Get the biggest news out there with this CNN economic news site. You can focus in on topics like federal finance, markets, business and more.
    4. Financial Times: Visit this site to learn about the latest in global financial news.
    5. Forbes: For business and financial information around the world, this site can be a great resource.
    6. New York Times: This section of the NYT can help you keep up with the ever changing economic conditions and trends.
    7. STRATFOR: Working on a global scale, this site offers insights into politics, war and the economy.
    8. Wall Street Journal: Synonymous with the U.S. financial markets, this publication offers readers reports on the markets, advice and loads of articles and information.
    9. World News Connection: This government service can help keep you on top of what the big events are in other places around the world.
    10. Barron’s: Check out Barron’s for financial investment news.

    Helpful Blogs

    Check out these blogs for information, ideas that need further research or just an intelligent perspective from another economics enthusiast.

    1. EconLog: Maintained by the Library of Economics and Liberty, this blog offers thoughtful insights on economics issues from three different bloggers.
    2. Economics Roundtable: On this site you’ll not only get news stories but also a lively discussion of key economic issues.
    3. Macroblog: Check out this blog to learn more about macroeconomics, financial issues and the economic situation of the southern United States.
    4. The Sports Economist: If you love sports and economics why not combine the two? This blog does just that, offering sports news from an economic perspective. It may offer some new ways to think about your own research and writing.
    5. Voxbaby: Written by Andrew Samwick, a professor of economics at Dartmouth, this blog addresses economics, politics and a number of current events.
    6. Cafe Hayek: Bloggers Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts share their opinions on current economic events on this blog.
    7. Carpe Diem: Professor of economics and finance Mark Perry uses his blog to comment on new stories and provide his own thoughts on a range of economic issues.
    8. Econbrowser: Visit this blog for news, links to helpful papers and more.
    9. RGE Monitor: Check out this site for up-to-the minute reports about economic and financial issues in all areas of the world.

    Stats and Numerical Data

    If you need raw data in your research, these sites can provide it in abundance, with records from the U.S. and around the world.

    1. American Factfinder: This online tool allows users to search through census information including the 1997 Economic Census. Users can then compile relevant information into tables, maps and downloadable files.
    2. City and County Data Book: Here researchers will find information on a smaller scale, focusing on individual communities at the city and county level.
    3. FEDSTATS: This gateway site offers statistics and data from over 100 U.S. federal agencies that can be helpful in research.
    4. BEARFACTS: The Bureau of Economic Analysis keeps records of personal income using current estimates, growth rates, and a breakdown of the sources of personal income.
    5. Economic Indicators.gov: Check out this site for the Economics and Statistics Administration’s releases of key economic indicators.
    6. FRASER: Also known as the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research, contains scanned images of economic publications, documents and more.
    7. FRED II: The Federal Reserve Economic Data is stored on this site, archiving information on mortgage, treasury bills and prime rate, price indexes, and exchange rates.
    8. EUROSTAT: This site is home to publications and statistics from the EU, with data in economics, population, agriculture, trade, transportation, and the environment.
    9. Global Financial Database: Check out this site for historical data on security markets and macroeconomic indicators for over 150 countries.
    10. International Financial Statistics: Here you can find data from the International Monetary Fund including exchange and interest rates, balance of payments, national accounts, prices and other economic information.
    11. World Development Indicators: Find all kinds of economic indicators for 207 countries in the areas of population, labor, education, economics, and the environment.

    Reference Texts

    You don’t have to go offline to engage in some serious background reading for your research. These important philosophical and economic texts are available for free on the web and can make great reference material.

    1. Alfred Marshall, The Principles of Economics: Containing five of the six of Marshall’s chapters on economics this work covers everything from the fundamentals to more in-depth explorations of production and demand.
    2. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844: This work, not published until 1932, details Marx’s early theories on capital, private property, communism and labor.
    3. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: This work from 1651 addresses the structure of society and legitimate government, becoming one of the first and most influential works on social contract theory.
    4. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The Federalist Papers: Explore the writings of the founding fathers and their views on government, taxation and more.
    5. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: One of the most widely read works on economics and politics, this book is an essential reference for any scholar interested in economics, addressing the economic situation at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
    6. David Ricardo, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation: An influential classical economist, Ricardo’s work is a great addition to resources for those looking into economic theory.
    7. John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism: This work delves into the idea of Utilitarianism, more specifically aiming to create the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.
    8. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto: You don’t have to agree with the politics in this book to understand its importance in economic and political history.
    9. Archive for the History of Economic Thought: Here you’ll find a huge archive with links to texts and information on some of the greatest thinkers in economic history.
    10. Economics Book Catalog: This catalog provides information on over 6000 economics publications, some free and some you can check out at your local library.
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