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Methods Used in Economic Research: An Empirical Study of Trends and Levels

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The methods used in economic research are analyzed on a sample of all 3,415 regular research papers published in 10 general interest journals every 5th year
from 1997 to 2017. The papers are classified into three main groups by method: theory, experiments, and empirics. The theory and empirics groups are almost equally large. Most empiric papers use the classical method, which derives
an operational model from theory and runs regressions. The number of papers published increases by 3.3% p.a. Two trends are highly significant: The fraction of theoretical papers has fallen by 26 pp (percentage points), while the fraction of papers using the classical method has increased by 15 pp. Economic theory predicts that such papers exaggerate, and the papers that have been analyzed by meta analysis confirm the prediction. It is discussed if other methods have smaller problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-42
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Research areas

  • research methods; survey of journals

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