The capstone to your undergraduate education may well be the senior research seminar, ECON 480. In this course you will define, develop, write and present an economic research project. A good senior research paper can be a stepping-stone to a career. Many graduate programs and employers ask for writing samples. A well-done senior research paper makes a very impressive writing sample! Your paper will provide tangible evidence of your aptitude for effective time management and your ability to formulate and complete a complex task.
Students have written their senior research papers on a wide range of topics. What makes a good topic depends on your interests and career objectives. Your goal, however, is to demonstrate your competency as an economics major. One way to do this is to use primary sources to illustrate, extend or test an economic theory. A good project will reflect knowledge of the relevant economic theory; demonstrate initiative in obtaining information; exhibit creativity and imagination (examples: a creative application of economic theory, an imaginative measure of a hard-to-quantify variable, or an insightful analysis of the limitations of a particular approach and useful suggestions for surmounting these limitations); and complete the task outlined in the topic statement.
You will begin thinking about your senior research paper in a formal way as part of ECON 380 -- Approaches to Research in Economics. In preparation for ECON 380 and 480, keep track of potential paper topics as you progress through all your economics courses. If an idea interests you, write it down! Once you are in ECON 380, or maybe even the semester before, you can share your list with your advisor or ECON 380/480 professor and she or he can help you select the topic that seems likely to be the most rewarding.