All posts by aminurasyed

International Monetary System

Bretton Woods System

The Bretton Woods system of monetary management established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the United States, Canada, Western Europe,Australasia and Japan in the mid-20th century. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate (± 1 per cent) by tying its currency to gold and the ability of the IMF to bridge temporary imbalances of payments. Also, there was a need to address the lack of cooperation among other countries and to prevent competitive devaluation of the currencies as well.

Preparing to rebuild the international economic system while World War II was still raging, 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, also known as the Bretton Woods Conference. The delegates deliberated during 1–22 July 1944, and signed the Bretton Woods agreement on its final day. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, these accords established the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which today is part of the World Bank Group. The United States, which controlled two thirds of the world’s gold, insisted that the Bretton Woods system rest on both gold and the US dollar. Soviet representatives attended the conference but later declined to ratify the final agreements, charging that the institutions they had created were “branches of Wall Street.” These organizations became operational in 1945 after a sufficient number of countries had ratified the agreement.

On 15 August 1971, the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold, effectively bringing the Bretton Woods system to an end and rendering the dollar a fiat currency. This action, referred to as the Nixon shock, created the situation in which the US dollar became a reserve currency used by many states. At the same time, many fixed currencies (such as the pound sterling, for example) also became free-floating.

When the Bretton Woods international monetary system collapsed in 1973, the world is yet to have a new set of rules to regulate international trade and monetary relations. Instead, a new system began to emerge without formal agreement or sanction. It also remained nameless. Duncan (2005) made a reference in his popular book “The Dollar Crisis” to the current international monetary system which evolved out of the collapse of Bretton Woods as “dollar standard”, so named because US dollars have become the world’s core reserve (anchor) currency in place of gold, which had comprised the world’s reserve assets under the Bretton Woods system as well as under the classical gold standard of the 19th century.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system
  2. Duncan R, The Dollar Crisis: Causes, Consequences and Cures (John Wiley & Sons, Singapore 2005)

Literature Review

Definition

A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.

Importance of Good Literature Review

A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem. The analytical features of a literature review might:

  • Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations,
  • Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates,
  • Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or
  • Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.

The purpose of a literature review is to:

  • Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied.
  • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important].

Reference:

Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2011; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012.

Types of Literature Reviews

It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Second are the reviews of those studies that summarize and offer new interpretations built from and often extending beyond the primary studies. Third, there are the perceptions, conclusions, opinion, and interpretations that are shared informally that become part of the lore of field.

In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as “true” even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews. Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.

Argumentative Review
This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply embedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature. The purpose is to develop a body of literature that establishes a contrarian viewpoint. Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below].

Integrative Review
Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated. The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems. A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication. This is the most common form of review in the social sciences.

Historical Review
Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent. Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.

Methodological Review
A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis]. Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i.e. those of theory, substantive fields, research approaches, and data collection and analysis techniques], how researchers draw upon a wide variety of knowledge ranging from the conceptual level to practical documents for use in fieldwork in the areas of ontological and epistemological consideration, quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.

Systematic Review
This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as “To what extent does A contribute to B?”

Theoretical Review
The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.

Reference:

Baumeister, Roy F. and Mark R. Leary. “Writing Narrative Literature Reviews.” Review of General Psychology 1 (September 1997): 311-320; Mark R. Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Kennedy, Mary M. “Defining a Literature.” Educational Researcher 36 (April 2007): 139-147; Petticrew, Mark and Helen Roberts. Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006; Torracro, Richard. “Writing Integrative Literature Reviews: Guidelines and Examples.” Human Resource Development Review 4 (September 2005): 356-367; Rocco, Tonette S. and Maria S. Plakhotnik. “Literature Reviews, Conceptual Frameworks, and Theoretical Frameworks: Terms, Functions, and Distinctions.” Human Ressource Development Review 8 (March 2008): 120-130.

I.  Thinking About Your Literature Review

The structure of a literature review should include the following:

  • An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review,
  • Division of works under review into themes or categories [e.g. works that support a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative approaches entirely],
  • An explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others,
  • Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research.

The critical evaluation of each work should consider:

  • Provenance — what are the author’s credentials? Are the author’s arguments supported by evidence [e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings]?
  • Methodology — were the techniques used to identify, gather, and analyze the data appropriate to addressing the research problem? Was the sample size appropriate? Were the results effectively interpreted and reported?
  • Objectivity — is the author’s perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author’s point?
  • Persuasiveness — which of the author’s theses are most convincing or least convincing?
  • Value — are the author’s arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?

II.  Development of the Literature Review

Four Stages

1.  Problem formulation — which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues?
2.  Literature search — finding materials relevant to the subject being explored.
3.  Data evaluation — determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic.
4.  Analysis and interpretation — discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature.

Consider the following issues before writing the literature review:

Clarify

If your assignment is not very specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions:

1.  Roughly how many sources should I include?
2.  What types of sources should I review (books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources)?
3.  Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue?
4.  Should I evaluate the sources?
5.  Should I provide subheadings and other background information, such as definitions and/or a history?

Find Models

Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections. Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review. The bibliography or reference section of sources you’ve already read are also excellent entry points into your own research.

Narrow the Topic

The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read to obtain a useful survey of relevant resources. Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that’s available on the topic, but you’ll make your job easier if you first limit the scope of the research problem. A good strategy is to begin by searching the HOMER catalog for books on the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues. You can also examine the indexes of books to find references to specific questions that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text.

Consider Whether Your Sources are Current

Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine, and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to examine deliberately how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a “hot topic” and what is not.

III.  Ways to Organize Your Literature Review

Chronological of Events
If your review follows the historical method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow an apparent chronological order of development. For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union.

By Publication
Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more significant trend. For instance, you could request a review of the literature on environmental studies of brownfields if the progression revealed, for example, a change in the soil collection practices of the researchers who wrote and conducted the studies.

Thematic [“conceptual categories”]
Thematic reviews of literature are organized around a topic or issue, rather than the progression of time. However, the progression of time may still be an important factor in a particular review. For example, an analysis of the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics could focus on the development of online political satire. While the study focuses on one topic, the Internet’s impact on American presidential politics, it will still be organized chronologically reflecting technological developments in media. The only difference here between a “chronological” and a “thematic” approach is what has emphasized the most: the role of the Internet in presidential politics. Note however that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. An analysis organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.

Methodological
A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher. For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these materials are discussed.

Other Sections of Your Literature Review
Once you’ve decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the parts you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each critical period; a limited review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you but include only what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship framework.

Here are examples of other sections you may need to include depending on the type of review you write:

  • Current Situation: information necessary to understand the topic or focus of the literature review.
  • History: the chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is required to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
  • Selection Methods: the criteria you used to select (and perhaps exclude) sources in your literature review. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals.
  • Standards: the way in which you present your information.
  • Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?

IV.  Writing Your Literature Review

Once you’ve settled on how to organize your literature review, you’re ready to write each section. When writing your review, keep in mind these issues.

Use Evidence
A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid.

Be Selective
Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological. Related items that provide additional information but that are not critical to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings.

Use Quotes Sparingly
Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote particular terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for your own summary and interpretation of the literature.

Summarize and Synthesize
Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review. Recapitulate essential features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study’s significance and relating it to your work.

Keep Your Own Voice
While the literature review presents others’ ideas, your voice [the writer’s] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your ideas and wording.

Use Caution When Paraphrasing
When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author’s information or opinions accurately and in your words. Even when paraphrasing an author’s work, you still must provide a citation to that work.

V.  Common Mistakes to Avoid

These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature.

  • Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem;
  • You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevant sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem;
  • Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data;
  • Uncritically accepts another researcher’s findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining all aspects of the research design and analysis critically;
  • Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review;
  • Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and,
  • Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.

Reference:

Cook, Kathleen E. and Elise Murowchick. “Do Literature Review Skills Transfer from One Course to Another?” Psychology Learning and Teaching 13 (March 2014): 3-11; Fink, Arlene. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005; Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998; Jesson, Jill. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques. London: SAGE, 2011; Literature Review Handout. Online Writing Center. Liberty University;Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Ridley, Diana. The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE, 2012; Randolph, Justus J. “A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review.” Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. vol. 14, June 2009; Taylor, Dena. The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre. University of Canberra.

Problem Statement

Importance of Problem Statement

Whether assigned a general issue to investigate, you are given a list of problems to study, or you have to identify your own topic to investigate, it is important that the research problem the guides your study is not too broad, otherwise, it will be very difficult to adequately address the problem in the space and time allowed. You could experience a number of problems if your topic is too broad, including:

  • You find too many information sources and, as a consequence, it is difficult to decide what to include or exclude or what are the most important.
  • You find information that is too general and, as a consequence, it is difficult to develop a clear framework for understanding the research problem and the methods needed to analyze it.
  • You find information that covers a wide variety of concepts or ideas that can’t be integrated into one paper and, as a consequence, you easily trail off into unnecessary tangents.

Reference:

Lloyd-Walker, Beverly and Derek Walker. “Moving from Hunches to a Research Topic: Salient Literature and Research Methods.” In Designs, Methods and Practices for Research of Project Management. Beverly Pasian, editor. (Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing, 2015), pp. 119-129.

The most common challenge when beginning to write a research paper is narrowing down your topic.

Even if your professor gives you a specific topic to study, it will almost never be so specific that you won’t have to narrow it down at least to some degree [besides, grading fifty papers that are all about the exact same thing is very boring!].

A topic is too broad to be manageable when you find that you have too many different, and oftentimes conflicting and only remotely related, ideas about how to investigate the research problem. Although you will want to start the writing process by considering a variety of different approaches to studying the research problem, you will need to narrow the focus of your investigation at some point. This way, you don’t attempt to do too much in one paper.

Here are some strategies to help focus your topic into something more manageable:

  • Aspect — choose one lens through which to view the research problem, or look at just one facet of it [e.g., rather than studying the role of food in Eastern religious rituals; study the role of food in Hindu ceremonies, or, the role of one particular type of food among several religions].
  • Components — determine if your initial variables or unit of analyses can be broken into smaller parts, which can then be analyzed more precisely [e.g., a study of tobacco use among adolescents can focus on just chewing tobacco rather than all forms of usage or, rather than adolescents, in general, focus on female adolescents in a certain age range who smoke].
  • Place — the smaller the area of analysis, the more narrow the focus [e.g., rather than study trade relations in West Africa, study trade relations between Niger and Cameroon].
  • Relationship — how do two or more different perspectives or variables relate to one another? [e.g., cause/effect, compare/contrast, contemporary/historical, group/individual, male/female, opinion/reason, problem/solution].
  • Time — the shorter the time period, the more narrow the focus.
  • Type — focus your topic in terms of a specific type or class of people, places, or things [e.g., a study of traffic patterns near schools can focus only on SUVs, or just student drivers, or just the timing of stoplights in the area].
  • Combination — use two or more of the above strategies to focus your topic very narrowly.

NOTE: Apply one of the above first to determine if that gives you a manageable research problem to investigate; combining multiple strategies risks creating the opposite problem–your topic becomes too narrowly defined and you can’t locate enough research or data to support your study.

Overview of Islamic Economics

“Islamic Economics” is a term often referred to as a sub – branch of Islamic jurisprudence; fiqh in Arabic. The term of Islamic Economics literally translated from Arabic word “al iktisat’ul Islam, or rarely “al fiqh’ul Iktisat.”

To give a more professional definition; referring Umar Chapra; ” that branch of knowledge which helps to realize human well – being through an allocation and distribution of scarce resources that is in conformity with Islamic teachings without unduly curbing individual freedom or creating continued macroeconomic and ecological imbalances.” Also according to Chapra and many other Scholars; there are 4 sources of Islamic systems; they are;

1-) Quran, such a divine sources
2-) Sunnah, the sayings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)
3-) Ijma, the common belief of Muslim scholars
4-) Qiyas, the other principles that are compared to those three sources.

These resources are widely accepted as the main sources of Islamic sciences. We will break down each and every one of them later on InshAllah.

***

Islam, a religion born in a territory where the agricultural potential is limited but commercial possibilities were great; such as trade and tourism. Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) himself had been a merchant; and very successful businessman actually; so We can see that Islam always regarded merchants with honor and esteem. Along with Prophet (pbuh); many of His Sahabah were also merchants; Abu Bakr, Usman and many others were successful merchants.

After the death of Prophet (pbuh); Muslims continued that tradition of successful trade. Many of that era Scholars were successful merchants as well, like Abu Hanifa. They faciliated in a really wide location; between Mediterrenian an China. It is an interesting point that people of those countries like Malaysia and Indonesia were converted to Islam not without war but with the efforts of that brilliant Muslim merchants like Abu Hanifa.

During the Middle Ages, with that remarkable success in making converts; Muslims were started to seen as world’s leaders in business, science, medicine and philosophical thought. Many ancient Greek authors are known to us today only through Arabic translations. Modern mathematics is based on the Arabic system of notation, and algebra was an Arab invention. During the intellectual revival of Western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries many Christian scholars went to Cordoba and other Muslim intellectual centers to study classical philosophy and science. The word of “college” was derived from Arabic word of “külliye”; and the oldest college of English speaking Europe, the Oxford College was founded as a copy of those “külliye” system. At the same time, Christian merchants learned Muslim commercial practices and techniques. As a matter of fact, the word of “cheque” (literally means a printed form, used instead of printed money) was invented by Muslim merchants of that time; and its original Arabic word was “şakk”. Many other advanced finance techniques were also being used during that time period.

In short; it can be clearly seen that Islamic economic system of that time is very close to today’s free market and so – called capitalism or liberal economy. However; Islam has two main and very important differences when compared to those other economic systems. Islamic Economics is based on “prohibition of interest” (usury or riba in Arabic) and “presence of zakat (almsgiving)”. Those two point can be regarded as indispensible points of Islamic economics. “Prohibition of interest” and obligatory alsmgiving could be sounded like somewhat socialism, but; it’s not. Islamic economics is so much different than capitalism and socialism. However, I think it should be a good implication that“dynamism of capitalism” and “equality of socialism” are combined in the economics system of Islam. Moreover, it embraces both this and other world as a whole; directed to obtain both worlds.