Grading & Assignments

A primary goal of this course is for students to become experts in the research literature in data-intensive development. This requires careful reading of papers, and critical and engaged discussion. Since it takes time to carefully read a research paper, there are only a few required readings each week, which are marked with a (***) in the syllabus below.  Readings marked with a (*) are highly recommended, and students are expected to at least skim each of these articles. Students may be called upon during class to discuss any of these marked readings.

Grades will be based on the following components:

  1. Group Final Project (35%): Students will either (i) complete a research project that involves the novel analysis of large-scale data; or (ii) write a detailed grant proposal proposing a new research project. Additional information on these options and the associated deliverables will be provided in class.
  2. Responses and Participation (30%): Each week, by 7am on the day class meets, students must submit a 1 page critical response to the required readings (anything marked with an asterisk). This response should not summarize the readings, it should react and engage with the substance of the paper. What is interesting? What is contradictory? What is problematic? What have the authors really nailed? What connects to your own work? What warrants further investigation? Late submissions will not be accepted, but students get two “free passes.”
  3. Problem Set (25%): Students will get their hands dirty by replicated and extending a recent paper which uses satellite imagery and deep learning to predict poverty.  This requires extensive programming in Python. Complete details will be provided on the second day of class. The problem set is due on March 1.
  4. Critical Literature Review (10%): On the first day of class, students will sign up for one day on which they will give a 20-minute critical summary of all that week’s recommended and optional readings. The presenters should carefully read all of the papers, and summarize the state of knowledge. Focus on: what needs to be done to turn research into actionable policy; what is an obvious next step in research; what are common strengths and weaknesses in the papers.

All assignments should be submitted through bCourses