Controversies & Social Issues: Web Resources

Web Resources (beyond Google)

Think Tanks & Research Institutes

Think Tanks & Research Institutes: A short collection of resources that can access these often influential contributions to public policy debate. 

Web Sites: Gauging the Slant

     In searching the Web you may find research and policy recommendations published by "think tanks," many of which have political/ideological affiliations.  An organization called SourceWatch can help you identify such ties and alert you to any political agenda the research was intended to serve.
      If you wish to see how your topic is discussed at conservative and liberal think tanks, here are some online sites that discuss a wide range of social issues.


Recommended Web Sites

Note: The best Web sources will depend on what issue interests you, but below you will find gaetway sites to public policy resources, several think tanks with well-organized social research, and a few of the best resources for statistical data.

Public Policy Issues and Groups: From Vanderbilt University, a good gateway to online resources across a wide spectrum of public policy issues.

Pew Research Center: The Pew Research Center conducts nonpartisan public opinion polling and social science research and is an outstanding resource for social issues and public policy information. Use the “Topics” index and the “Projects of the Center” to navigate--as well as the “Site Search.”  Also note Pew Internet, Science & Tech: Topics, Pew Social & Demographic Trends: Topics, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: Topics, and Pew U.S. Politics & Policy: Topics.

Public Agenda: A non-partisan organization dedicated to informing citizens about public policy issues and government officials about public opinion.  See especially "Reports and Surveys" where you can use the "Filter list by Issue Area" menu.

National Center for Policy Analysis: Leading think tank that takes a “free enterprise” approach to public policy issues.  Use tabs across the top for issue areas.

Brookings Institute: Topics: Another leading think tank, sometimes characterized as liberal, with information on a wide range of social/political issues.Scroll down to "Show All Topics" for a complete listing.

Rand Corporation: Topics: A gateway to the topics Rand designates as vital to public policy debate. Also note the “Trending Topics” links at the upper right.

DocuTicker: Article Categories: This Web site collected articles and reports from government agencies, NGOs, and think tanks--up until the beginning of 2016. Although it's no longer maintained, most of these categorized links still work, and so it may remain useful for the next year or two.

SocioSite: Sociological Subjects: From the University of Amsterdam, SocioSite is an outstanding gateway to Web resources on almost any social issue.  Use this large set of subject categories to get started.

A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace: Gateway to the many thematic collections of annotated links by Web sociologist extraordinaire, Dr. Michael Kearl.

Frontline: almost 30 years of investigative journalism by this PBS show is available here in one-hour Flash videos.  Most of these focus on social and public policy issues.  Browse the options by Category on the right or scan them all By Date.

World Values Survey: Political, social, and cultural data on the values and beliefs of over 80 societies worldwide--including the United States--since 1981. A great site, but it can be a challenge to navigate.  To get started try my World Values Survey: User Guide.

FedStats and The United States government provides the raw data and statistics used in much social science research and public policy debate, so why not sample it yourself. These are both good gateways and the “Topics" approach of is a particularly helpful means of accessing this information.
STATS: A statistical assessment research organization based at George Mason University, STATS is a good site to check on the validity of statistical "facts" so often a part of public policy debates.  Look under "Materials" for "In Depth Analysis" and "STATS in the Media" articles.  Alternately, use the keyword search slot on top.

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Lisabeth Chabot

College Librarian
(607) 274-3182

Social Issues


Web Directories

     Web Directories differ from search engines like Google in that all the online resources have been selected and annotated by editors, thereby promising a much higher degree of quality control.  

Web Search Engines

Google Advanced Search: When doing research on the Web, always use the Adanced Search version of Google. This not only provides more flexibility in entering search terms, but more importantly it allows you to target the Web domains that are likely to provide the most authoritative information.
   Under "Need More Tools?" you will find the "Search within a site or domain" slot. You may enter only one domain at a time, but it's worth targeting each of the three domains likely to supply the best information: colleges and universities (enter the "edu" tag), nonprofit organizations (enter the "org" tag), and the United States government (enter the "gov" tag).  As you type your search, may display a selection of searches related to your terms, any of which you may choose.  Within retrieval sets there may also be a helpful display of "Related Searches," often including Pro and Con categories for controversial topics.  And a new feature called "Ask Q&A" can connect you to sites that answer specific questions on your topic.

Citation Help

MLA Citation

MLA is the citation style used by most disciplines in the Humanities. Here is my guide to the latest (2016) update of the MLA style.