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Political Studies: Think Tanks

Tips for Evaluating Think Tanks

Writing about think tanks and using their research: A cautionary tip sheet, Journalist's Resource.

Defining and evaluating think tanks, Association of Accredited Public Policy Advocates to the European Union

Think Tanks

What is a think tank?

Think tanks, policy institutes and research institutes are organizations that produce policy-oriented research on a range of topics including domestic and international economic issues. The research produced can help inform decisions about public policy. 

Some important information about think tanks: 

Many think tanks often represent a particular political orientation and perspective even though they can come across as sources for providing "objective" or "neutral" information. It is essential to assess their political orientation and advocacy agenda/stance before you use their sources. Here are some helpful materials on why assessing you Think Tank source is important: 

  • Carp, R. (2013, July 1). Who Pays for Think Tanks? FAIR. https://fair.org/extra/who-pays-for-think-tanks
  • Shaw, S.E., Russell, J., Parsons, W. & Greenhalgh, T. (2015). The view from nowhere? How Think Tanks Work to Shape Health Policy. Critical Policy Studies, 9(1), 58-77. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19460171.2014.964278
  • Lipton, E. & Williams, B. (2016, August 7). How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate America's Influence. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/us/politics/think-tanks-research-and-corporate-lobbying.html