Teaching Resource: Article Summary

Summarizing academic literature can be challenging for undergraduate students, but linking those summaries and research to scenes from Breaking Bad may be ease the transition. Below we present a summary of a journal article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland on the opioid epidemic. While this project is more closely targeted at upper-level economics majors, we provide an alternative article that summarizes the journal article. Depending on your student background, this could be used in a principles course. If you’re teaching in an online course or you have discussion boards as part of your course, you could assign the reading and then have student discuss the article online.

Episode Title: Up for a Trade
Season: 3
Episode: 4
Episode Title: “Green Light”
Timeframe: 00:41 — 03:24)
Concepts: asymmetric informationbartercurrencydouble coincidence of wantsexchangegains from trademedium of exchangeMoney

Clip Summary

Jesse visits a gas station and, after filling up and asking for a pack of cigarettes, he realizes that he has no cash on him. He proposes a trade; a little bag of “blue” methamphetamine against the gas and cigarettes. After hesitating initially, the cashier accepts the trade. However, for the trade to take place, a mutual coincidence of wants must emerge. It does in this case. Also, note that the cashier accepts the methamphetamine under the false belief that it does not create addiction.

Article Abstract Assignment

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland have investigated the link between labor market outcomes and opioid usage. Increases in the prescription rate of opioids is associated with a drop in labor force participation rates for the area. The working paper is available on the researchers websites, but the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland summarized the working paper in their Economic Commentary newsletter. The assignment below asks students to summarize the Economic Commentary article, not the working paper. This assignment could be adapted for an upper-level health economics course or econometrics course by assigning the original working paper.

The summary should be no more than 2 typed pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, with one-inch margins. The introduction should start with a summary of the article from Economic Commentary. The goal of the summary is to write the article for a general audience who has never taken an economics course. In your summary, be sure to describe the:

  • main topic of the article and the authors’ goals of the research
  • procedures and methods very briefly
  • results of the authors works and the implication for labor markets
  • the main conclusions of the original authors

It is important that your summary is paraphrased in your own words, but that you use citations citations where appropriate. If you are using a lot of quotes in the paper then you aren’t really providing your summary of the readings. In the conclusion, provide some critique of the article you read. Consider the following questions as possible guidance for your critique:

  • Was there a strength of the authors’ paper that stood out?
  • What are the implications of this research for labor markets?
  • Was there a lingering question about the study that you wanted to know more about?
  • How has the material in the article related to what has been covered in the course?
  • Do you think this is an important topic that people need to know about?
  • Does the article appear to be biased?