Types of economics and finance publications

Economic and financial reports

Many private businesses and public institutions (eg government agencies) must produce economic and financial reports for both internal and external users.

Reports in economics and finance have very specific kinds of content. Annual reports typically include industry and business overviews, audited financial statements for the past year and extensive explanatory notes on their interpretation, discussion of management and analysis of business trends, lists of directors and officers, and reports from the chairperson and directors. Budget papers include overviews of the entity’s past and future economic performance, as well as financial statements and a discussion of key budget measures.

When preparing financial reports, pay attention to issues such as:

  • numerical correctness
  • legal requirements
    • some sections may be flexible, but others may have formats fixed by regulations
    • some content may need to be signed off by certain officers (eg the chief financial officer, an auditor)
    • there may be reporting periods that must be met (ie the report has a hard deadline)
  • stakeholder engagement (eg who should review the report before publication)
  • accepted conventions for document structure (eg expected sections, heading levels, formats)
  • disclosure of information (eg what must be disclosed for legal or regulatory requirements, what must not be disclosed for commercial-in-confidence and similar reasons).

See Books and reports for more information on writing and structuring such publications.

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Journal publications and essays for economics

Academic papers in economics aim to answer a question using economic analysis. These papers can take many different forms but most fall into 2 broad categories (theoretical or empirical), or are a mix of both:

  • Theoretical papers develop or discuss an economic model on the basis of reasonable assumptions, and aim to prove a particular outcome using that model. This type of writing can be undertaken when data are scarce or unreliable.
  • Empirical papers test an economic model with data that have been collected through observations of economic behaviour, either in the real world or under experimental conditions.

Economics papers follow somewhat different structures, depending on whether they are empirical or theoretical papers. Most economics research papers contain:

  • an introduction stating the aim of the paper and how it contributes to the discipline of economics
  • a literature review with a discussion of previous relevant research
  • sections detailing the model and its application to different scenarios (using a range of variables); or the data used, methods of analysis, and calculations and observations based on them
  • a conclusion highlighting the implications of the research
  • reference lists.

The key points should be mentioned as targets up front, and underscored at the conclusion.

Economics papers can be written in the first person and the present tense, where appropriate. Systematic referencing is always needed to underscore the reliability of the discussion.

See Journal articles for more information on developing such publications.

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