Literature Review

Do shelter-in-place policies (=lockdowns) work to reduce the health burden of Covid-19 or do they create more harm to human life?
Objective: The objective of this assignment is to write a The Conversation style article on the topic given. The Conversation articles are usually 600-800 words long but in this assessment you write up to 3,000 words including references and captions (figures and tables). The main feature of such articles is that they are accessible summaries of existing scientific work or scientific insights that authors have produced themselves. Here is an example on Covid: LINK

Please engage with the Great Barrington Declaration and the John Snow Memorandum. I have posted videos.

Please also start your reading with these two papers as a guidance:

Christopher R. Berry, Anthony Fowler, Tamara Glazer, Samantha Handel-Meyer, Alec MacMillen, Evaluating the effects of shelter-in-place policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2021, 118 (15).
Butterworth, P., Schurer, S., Trong-Ahn, T ., Vera-Toscano. E., Wooden, M. (2022). The effect oflockdowns on mental health : evidence from a natural experiment analysing an Australian longitudinal probabilitysample survey. The Lancet (Public Health). Volume 7, Issue 5, May 2022, Pages e427-e436.

This assignment gives you one option. The assignment aims to practice specific research skills. But beware: it requires a specific pre-project skill-set:

Project option: Systematic review of the existing literature


( 1) Learn how to conduct a systematic review
( 2 ) Learn to condense the main insights of an international literature
( 3) Learn how to write about such insights in a systematic and accessible way

Hear you can find guidance on How to write a superb literature review: HERE and HERE

I would not expect you to include more than 25 papers in your literature review. I leave it up to you how you want to analyse the papers you read, but I usually approach literature reviews as follows:

  1. Search keywords on google, google scholar, NBER Covid (LINK), and journals such as the Lancet, PNAS, Science, or Nature.
  2. The keywords will be critical: I would use: effects of lockdowns, shelter-in-place policies, cost benefit analysis of lockdowns…
  3. Select as many articles that you can find and enter them in a reference list. Do it systematically (e.g. in Word document you can use the Reference tab)
  4. Weed out the good from the bad papers, and focus on papers published in Science, Nature, PNAS, Lancet or the NBER Working Paper series.
    5 . Generate a table, with the following dimensions: N * K
    a. N: Number of articles you seek to analyse
    b. K: Number of dimensions along which you want to analyse the papers
    c. Here is an example:

Article Data/ time period Country Outcomes Model/ Controls Causal
? Finding
s Criticisms
Berry et al (2021) PNAS 24 Feb-
May 2020 US states Nr COVID
cases; nr of Difference-
differences Yes/no Report here the key estimate , plus p- value of the effect Short time

d. Fill the table with information, then count how many studies find positive, negative and no effects. Critically evaluate the state of the literature when writing up these findings. Eg what are the weaknesses of the papers? Can any papers make a claim for or against lockdowns?

Write up results suitable for The Conversation, up to 3,000 words, including your reference list and additional information.

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