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Ekstrom Library

Social Policy: Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis: What's on this page?

This page features information on think tanks, research institutes, and policy organizations. While you may hear people refer to one as a "think tank" or another as a "research institute," they are all the same type of organization whose purpose is to analyze social problems, policy, and suggest solutions to the problem. 

This page will provide you with links to many of the popular think tanks as well as options to let you search think tanks based on your research topic. As well, there are a few resources that will orient you to the potential political polarization of think tanks, which is important to consider in your evaluation of their reports. 

What is a Think Tank?

According to the Lehman Social Sciences Library at Columbia University"the term "think tanks" is an imprecise phrase used to describe a wide range of non-profit research organizations which engage in public policy analysis and research, and often advocate solutions. Some are strictly nonpartisan, researching policy issues without regard to political outcomes, while others see one of their main functions as that of providing intellectual support to politicians or parties. They are as ubiquitous in the American political scene as interest groups, media consultants, "spin doctors", and the political parties themselves." 

That being said, be aware that some of those listed below may be partisan and lobbying, or advocating, to affect policy in some way.  

Databases for Public Policy Journal Articles & Reports

This includes both Government Policy Analysis and analysis by scholars. 

Think Tanks, Research Institutes, & Advocacy Groups

Searching by Topic

Think Tank Search provided by the Harvard Kennedy School for Government Library allows you to search over 575 think tanks using a keyword search. 

Individual Think Tanks

The list below is by no means comprehensive, but has been curated based on the following: 1) the organization's prominence; 2) its wide breadth of research areas; and 3) its relevance to the four research topics mentioned on the Home tab of this guide.

Please refer to the following for a more comprehensive representation of think tanks available to you for your research: 


Select Think Tanks, Research Institutes, & Advocacy Groups

Note: Some of the following are advocacy groups and will not always explicitly identify themselves as such. Cato, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation run on the conservative side, for example; to counter, the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute are usually identified as liberal. 

Below is a list of well-known think tanks: