Economics, Economists, Data, and More
For economics, you can take advantage of one-stop shopping. Just use Resources for Economists on the Internet, a goldmine of references to useful net stuff maintained by Bill Goffe of SUNY-Oswego. It is a Good Thing and highly recommended.
Citation Styles: How to Reference the Work of Others
Students are often unfamiliar with the proper methods of referencing the information sources on which they rely. At one level, getting citations right is "merely" a matter of style, not substance, and maybe I'm just getting pedantic in my old age. But a paper with sloppy referencing style (in fact, with sloppy anything, but don't get me going!) can be very distracting, whereas strict adherence to conventional standards can contribute greatly to its professional look and feel. And then, of course, there is the very serious matter of academic integrity. (But don't get me going!)
I'm not a writing instructor and I certainly don't claim to know everything about correct citation styles. But I have located a reference that, if followed, will satisfy my standards, at least, for stylistic quality. It is the "Economics Department Citation Guide" and is to be found at the web page of Professor Jeffrey Parker at Reed College. Students who ask me to review their term papers, dissertations, or other written work will encounter a far more sympathetic reader if they follow the procedures described in this most helpful guide.
I know that the theory says that they can't exist, but there really are $100 bills lying around the internet waiting to be picked up. These take the form of free and technically superior software. In particular:
Linux, my preferred operating system (ok, strictly speaking, it's the kernel of my preferred operating system) for the personal computer (which, as noted above, runs my UK server);
the X Window environment, which provides a fine graphical interface for your Linux system;
the TeX/LaTeX typesetting system (not "word processor"), which is especially useful for preparation of technical manuscripts of the kind often found in economics, and
GNU's Not Unix!, the GNU project of the Free Software Foundation, which underlies a big part of standard Linux distributions.
As the GNU pages observe, "free" here should be understood in the sense of "free speech" rather than "free lunch." When you think of it that way, perhaps it's not so paradoxical that the best software is available in this fashion. The greatest ideas in economics, after all, have appeared in outlets (professional journals and the like) which can be accessed in libraries at a zero price -- or for which the authors, at least, received zero payment. (Granted, many academic publications are not necessarily "free" in the GNU sense, but long traditions of open scholarly communication certainly do underlie economics and many other disciplines.) I'm all for incentives, but imagine if we had to pay the estate of Newton (or Leibniz? -- they're still battling this one out and there isn't even any money at stake) every time we took a derivative.