PS1010 - Honors American Government

Subject Specialist Librarian

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Jon E. Cawthorne, Ph.D.
He, Him, His
342 Purdy Kresge Library

FEDERAL Problem Overviews

Library databases such as CQ Researcher, Opposing Viewpoints, and the Encyclopedia of Urban Studies can provide summary articles on social problems. Government agencies, research centers, and organizations are good sources of information about social problems and issues. Many of their web sites will feature reports, news items, research studies that provide a glimpse of the problem at the national level. The National Poverty Center (listed below) is one example of this type of resource. See other examples below.

FEDERAL Policies & Proposals

Searching Tips

  • Use your main topic (homelessness, poverty, blight) as a keyword and add one other term like problem, analysis, or overview to help narrow your search.     EXAMPLE: Homelessness and problem
  • Remember to use alternate terms for your main topic. For example, instead of "blight" you might try "abandoned land" or "vacant land."
  • If searching the Internet, look for .gov sites in your search results to find government agencies that will have reports, white papers, data, and other helpful resources.
  • Remember that .org sites will most likely have a viewpoint or agenda. Be sure you understand the goal of the organization and judge its trustworthiness before you trust its information.
  • Use library databases when searching for scholarly articles that analyze the problem and propose solutions. Suggested databases are listed on this page.

Recommended Databases for Scholarly Articles

Think Tanks, Policy Organizations, and Advocacy Groups


BROWSE List of Organizations


Evaluating the Sponsor

The "about us" link on most organizational pages is the place to investigate who is responsible for the group and what potential interests, perspectives or conflicts of interest the group may have on the topic. While the .com domain generally signals a profit motive, the .org runs the gamut of self interest to public good. Be sure to examine the goals and viewpoints expressed in these sections of the website in order to determine how objective the information may be.

The following listings categorize think tanks by ideology but their rankings are more tenuous and less transparent. Compare two or more sources to determine whether or not the categorization seems sound.

STATE Overviews

Search for state agencies and organizations that deal with the problem or issue.  Look for "Resources" or "News" sections, which may feature reports profiling the problem. See examples that follow.

STATE Policies & Proposals

LOCAL Overviews

Local newspaper coverage is one source for defining the problem at the local level. City agencies or organizations are another. See two examples that follow.

LOCAL Policies & Proposals

Other suggested strategies:

  • Use the Detroit Free Press to search for policy proposals
  • Find an example from another city