If you want to write your thesis at our chair, please go through the following steps:
1.Requirements for Writing a Thesis at the Chair of Public Finance
If you want to write your thesis at our chair, you should have successfully participated in one of our seminars. Exceptions from this rule are possible, e.g. if you are interested in a topic that fits our research interests particularly well - given that you successfully participated in our courses.
You can either propose your own topic or choose a (modified version of a) topic from the list. In either case, it is important that you follow the steps below!
Interested students should apply to write the thesis with us at least 6 weeks before their desired start date (see step 3 below).
We encourage students with a good empirical background to do a replication study. This is in particular advisable for those who plan to pursue doctoral studies afterwards. If you are interested in this, please let us know. Given that you conduct your own applied analysis using statistical software you can also earn points for a DigiLab certificate with your thesis.
2. Before You Submit Your Application
a. Find a research question
It is important (and not so easy) to identify a clearly defined question that can be successfully dealt with within the relatively short writing period. Most good theses focus on a single effect (or a very small number of effects) of one particular thing on something else. Usually this effect can be addressed both theoretically (with arguments and/or mathematical models) and empirically (with data and regression analyses).
We publish a list of suggestions for thesis topics on our website; however, you are welcome to suggest any other topic that is related to the content of our courses or our research interests.
A good thesis should always contain both a theoretical and an empirical component. Depending on the topic of the thesis one of them may be more prominent than the other. Having both components allows you to show that you have learnt to understand and interpret theoretical arguments and models, as well as econometric problems and analyses.
b. Do a short literature research
We recommend the following two ways to narrow down your topic and to find appropriate literature.
i. If you have an effect in mind that you are interested in, describe it in your own words in one, two or three sentences. You are also welcome to send those sentences to us and we might be able to give you some hints. Then, go to scholar.google.com and look for recent (i.e. 2005 and later) papers that deal with this issue. It is important that you (mainly) work with articles that have been published in journals. Previous versions of these articles will often have appeared as working papers. You should generally try to work with the former, because the latter will often be less polished and longer. They may also contain mistakes that were discovered and ﬁxed in the publication process.
ii. If you do not have a specific effect in mind, you need to stimulate your creativity a bit: Browse through articles that were published in top-ranking economics journals in the last couple of years and look for articles that you find interesting. Once you have found an article, look for other related articles. You will quickly have a list of articles and you can use them as a basis to write a thesis that revolves around reviewing these papers. During this process, you may also come up with your own ideas about an effect that you find interesting and you can use the first approach above to find related literature. Here is a list of journals you may want to look at:
- American Economic Review
- Quarterly Journal of Economics
- Journal of Public Economics
- Journal of the European Economic Association
Of course, there are more journals, but these may be sufficient as a starting point. You can access the archives of these (and many other) journals, by typing the name of the journal into the search box at the top of this page:
Most journals use what is called a paywall. You will only be able to access their content from within the university network, because the university pays publishers for access. You can download a VPN client from the website of the university computing center. This is a small program that will allow you to connect your computer to the university network even if you work from somewhere else:
Since downloading journal articles is an essential part of any literature search, we highly recommend installing the client if you ever work from outside the university.
4. Decision and Supervisor
We will decide about your application within 3 weeks. If you are accepted, your supervisor will get in touch with you and suggest a time for a meeting. You will fill out the registration form for the thesis (not to be confused with the application form mentioned above) together.
5. Start of Writing Period
Your writing period begins on the day that is indicated on your registration form.
Our guidelines [pdf, 273 kb] apply to all theses written at our chair. It is very important that you read them carefully and completely at the beginning of your writing period.
6. Present Your Progress at the Internal Public Finance Seminar
Roughly half-way through your writing period, you should present your progress, your approach, first results and open questions in our Internal Public Finance Seminar. This presentation does not count for your grade, but it will provide you with feedback for the remainder of your writing period. Patrick Bareinz can provide you with further information.
If you have any questions during your writing process or if you get stuck, contact your supervisor right away. He or she will try to help you, and asking your supervisor about a problem will not affect your grade negatively. While we strongly recommend having your thesis proofread, your supervisor will not provide this service for you (neither for the full thesis nor for parts of it).
7. Hand In
You have to hand in your thesis on the day that is indicated on your registration form.
Please refer to our guidelines [pdf, 273 kb] for information on how to hand in your thesis.