RESEARCHING SOCIAL POLICIES
There are seven major avenues for finding
information on a specific policy.
1. Generate data through primary research.
2. Governmental or agency records such as
archives, memos, and the minutes of the
meetings of boards of directors,
governmental officials, and staff.
3. Records and published minutes of
legislative bodies and committees, including
the Congressional Record. All state
legislatures have record-keeping procedures,
and most of these records can be found in
regional or university libraries or on-line
through the Internet.
4. Governmental publications. For example, the
U.S. Government Printing Office maintains
catalogues of all government documents
published. Other documents include the Census
Bureau’s population studies, publications of the
Departments of Labor, Commerce, Housing, and
Health and Human Services, and the House
Committee on Ways and Means’ Green Book (a
yearly publication containing the most
comprehensive information available on social
programs and participants).
5. Think tanks, advocacy organizations, and
professional associations. All think tanks (many
of which are actually advocacy organizations)
employ research staff who evaluate and
analyze social policies. Examples of these
include the Brookings Institute, the American
Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation,
the Hoover Institute, the Urban Institute, the
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the
Reason Foundation, the Hudson Foundation,
the Progressive Policy Institute, the Economic
Policy Institute, and the Independent Sector.
6. Professional journals, books, and
monographs. Articles or books on specific
policy areas can be found in various places,
including the Social Science Index, the
subject headings in card catalogues, in on-
line library systems, and in electronic
databases, which are becoming increasingly
common in the larger professional
associations. Electronic databases such as
Navigator and Nexus are also useful.
7. Policy-relevant information can be
gathered from interviews with principals in
the policy process, advocates, recipients of
services, and government officials.