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Political Science

Provides free and subscription resource recommendations in general and various political science subfields. Includes listings of the most widely used political science data and statistical resources.

What's Public Policy?

Public policy refers to how a government seeks to address social issues, solve public problems, and improve the well-being of society. Because public policy encompasses a wide range of issues other than politics, including economics, education, healthcare policies, and environmental regulation, you may need to review research guides specific to those areas.  It is also important to note that public policy papers serve different purposes than scholarly political science articles and have distinct characteristics:

  • Public policy databases generally consist of papers that describe and analyze political directives, decisions, and actions adopted by governments.
  • Policy papers are typically written to inform and influence policymakers, practitioners, and the general public in a language accessible to a broader audience.
  • While references are often included, public policy papers focus on practical examples, case studies, and real-world issues and may not provide citations.
  • Policy papers tend to be published by think tanks, policy research organizations, or government agencies. Some papers are freely available, while others are only available through subscription.

Writing Public Policy Papers

The Marks Family Writing Center will begin offering appointments starting Thursday, January 18th. Please make an appointment if you need help with your public policy writing assignment. The Writing Center has readers trained to assist with writing in various genres and disciplines. It offers free, one-on-one meetings and welcomes undergraduate and graduate students working on any writing project at any stage in the process. In addition to providing individual writing guidance and feedback, here is what The Writing Center offers:

  • Analyze your writing assignments or professor feedback to determine what s/he wants
  • Brainstorm topics for a paper or personal statement
  • Help you plan, write, stage, or revise a research paper
  • Give you feedback on cover letters, applications, proposals
  • Teach you strategies for writing and organizing lengthy papers and reports
  • Show you how to strengthen sentences, paragraphs, transitions, diction
  • Give you tips on how to make your writing more powerful and engaging
  • Identify patterns of errors in grammar and mechanics

Here are a few other useful links to "how-to-write policy" documents:

Public Policy Databases

The following is a list of the top subject-specific research databases for locating public policy reports and articles. 

If your issue is related to U.S. Federal government policy, consider searching for reports from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and House and Senate members, regardless of party affiliation. 

The CRS also provides "Policy and Legislative Research for Congressional Staff: Finding Documents, Analysis, News, and Training," a finding aid used by congressional aides for locating congressional documents, executive branch documents and information, news articles, policy analysis, contacts, and training for use in policy and legislative research.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan research arm of the United States Congress. CRS experts prepare reports to assist Senators and Congressmen throughout the legislative process, providing background information and detailed analysis on various public policy issues. Primary research is conducted in the areas of U.S. law, domestic social policy, foreign affairs, defense and trade, government and finance, resources, and science and industry. Reports contain citations of sources along with figures and tables.

Global Think Tanks

"Global Go To Think Tank 2020" with image of people putting together a puzzle

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania researches the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies worldwide. The annual Global Go To Think Tank Index ranks the world’s leading think tanks in various categories. For links to the top think tanks ranked in the index, use the Public Policy Research Think Tanks Guide.

Other Think Tank Resources

Core Academic Public Administration Journals

Journal Citation Reports (JCR) allows you to evaluate and compare journals using citation data from approximately 12,000 journals from publishers in over 80 countries. You can use JCR to find the best journals published within specific research areas. The following journals are listed in JCR as the ten most cited, best-quality journals in the Public Administration category. If you want to review the JCR list of top-cited public administration journals, go to Journal Citation Reports and choose Categories >  Social Sciences, General > Political Science> Public Administration.

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