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 old from today’s date. (I am even stricter with regard to how recent the article should be – see the checklist!)
- 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.
- 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? Does it mention exchange rates, appreciation, depreciation or government intervention in the foreign exchange markets? These are concepts contained in the economics syllabus, so the article must mention or talk about, two, three or four of these concepts.
- 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?
- 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 ( workers rights, treatment of workers etc.) but hardly mentions anything linked to the economics syllabus. The only 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.
- Could you draw one or two economics diagrams to illustrate what the article is talking about? This is vitally important if you want to maximize your marks.
- Is the article interesting to read? There are a lot of articles with economic content in them, but they can be quite dull. Does your article contain an interesting twist in it that makes it stand out from other articles?