One of the first mistakes students new to economics make is to choose an inappropriate article for their commentary. So the first thing that you need to do is to find a good one.
I give my students this checklist to help them, when they are looking for articles:-
When looking for commentary articles, you need to take the following into consideration:-
- Is the article a recent one? It must be no older than a year from today’s date.
- Is the article not too lengthy? About a page or a page and a half of A4 writing is about the right size.
- Is there economic language and terminology in the article? For example, does it mention demand, supply or price? These are concepts contained in the economics syllabus, so the article must mention or talk about two, three or four of these concepts.
- Commentaries are supposed to be written as you progress through the course, so should be based on the economic theory and concepts that you have recently covered in class.
- Can you link one of the course ‘key concepts ‘ to the article? Could you discuss the key concept in-depth and make plenty of links to the article content?
- Could you draw up to three economics diagrams to illustrate what the article is talking about? This is vitally important and relates to ‘application’ skills in economics.
- Is the article too ‘ business’ orientated? Business and economics are very similar subjects, but be careful not to choose an article that only talks about one company, it’s business strategies, it’s revenues, profits, losses etc. For example, this article is too ‘business’ orientated. It mentions issues related to business ( homeworking, commuting to work etc.) but hardly mentions anything linked to the economics syllabus. The only possible exception is if you are a HL student who is wanting to do a commentary on the Theory of the Firm topic. In this case, a business article could be appropriate.
- Has the article got too much politics in it? Economics and politics are two closely related subjects, but if your article talks a lot about political parties, their strategies, elections etc., then it probably has too much politics in it. This article, for example, although it is about the EU, a trading bloc, which is on the syllabus, has probably too much politics in it and should therefore be avoided.
- Is the article interesting to read? Does your article contain an interesting twist in it that makes it stand out from other articles?
- Is the article from a news media source? The article must be ‘ contemporaneous ‘ i.e. recent, and it must come from a news website or from a news source. For example, this source would be inappropriate because it is an educational website, not a news media website. Text from a television or radio broadcasts are prohibited.