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What are Working Papers?
Working papers are preliminary research papers that are posted online to encourage discussion and comment. Economists publish working papers as a timely and informal way of communicating their research findings. When using working papers, keep in mind:
- Because they represent research in progress, working papers have not undergone the traditional peer-review process.
- The research may have been updated in another working paper or a published journal article. Be sure to search for updated works from the author(s).
What are Think Tanks?
A think tank is "an organization, institute, corporation, or group that conducts research and engages in advocacy in public policy." (Sourcewatch.org)
When using information from a think tank:
- Consider the biases that think tanks may be bringing to the discussion.
- Learn about the think tank by looking at the major contributors and the staff.
- Use evaluative sites to better understand the point of view the think tank may have.
- Ideally, contrast policy statements from two think tanks with vastly different perspectives on the issue.
Think Tank Search
Think Tank Search is a custom Google search of more than 450 think tank websites selected by The Harvard Kennedy School of Government Library. See their website for information on the inclusion policy and links to U.S. and international think tank websites.
Some Well-Known Think Tanks
KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation)
KFF is an endowment-funded non-profit organization that focuses on policy analysis, polling and survey research, and journalism on major US health care issues.
The Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute forecasts effects of policy changes on insurance costs and coverage; identifies trends in health care coverage, costs, access, and quality; collects and analyzes data; and studies health care disparities.
The Economic Policy Institute
The Health Policy research team "analyzes the U.S. health care system through the lens of low- and moderate income families’ living standards, with special attention to employer-sponsored health insurance, the burden of health costs, and disparities in access and outcomes."
USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy
A partnership between The Brookings Institute's Economic Studies program and the University of Southern California's Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, the initiative "aims to inform the national health care debate with rigorous, evidence-based analysis leading to practical recommendations using the collaborative strengths of USC and Brookings."
Evaluating Think Tanks
Wikipedia List of U.S. Think Tanks
Use to get an overview of the issues that a think tank is discussing and what social, policy or political biases that it brings to the discussion. Be sure to view the history page to determine if there are disputes about the information on the page.
OpenSecrets.org's Donor Look Up
Find the names of the think tank's board of directors on its website and then follow the money with this donor database.