Research Resources

A good opinion piece is always based on thorough research. Opinion writers usually need to do research on the following:

  1. Topic you are writing on and
  2. Audiences you are writing for

Resources for researching your topics:

Basic Journalistic research tools:

  • National Conference of Editorial Writers – provides a list of resources used by professional writers
  • Journalist’s resource.org – A free, open database that curates and synthesizes key, current studies on a variety of policy topics. The summaries are intended for non-specialists. The project points to open access studies whenever possible.
  • Google Scholar: This search engine is free to anyone, but access to the studies listed in your search results may be restricted. Be sure to click “All Versions” at the bottom of the search result to see if there is an open version somewhere on the Web.

Data on politics:

  • Annenberg Public Policy Center – researches Americans’ political knowledge, discourse, media use and opinions about candidates and issues.
  • American National Election Studies – studies Americans’ opinions on candidates, issues, and elections
  • Campaign finance links– A complete list from IRE’s Campaign Finance Information Center.
  • Center for Responsive Politics a nonprofit with searchable databases of U.S. campaign contributions
  • FactCheck.org – A monitor of factual accuracy in US politics
  • Open CRS: The Congressional Research Service (CRS) operates as a quasi think tank that provides reliable, unbiased background on policy issues. CRS does a good job of reviewing available research on issues. Open CRS aggregates these government reports as they come into the public domain.

Data on economy:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics This site offers extensive labor and economic statistics, featuring regional breakdowns of the U.S. economy, statistics on employment and unemployment, prices and living conditions, compensation, productivity, employment projections, and economic comparisons between countries. Also offered are news releases and publications on labor and economic issues.
  • U.S. department of Commerce – official information on U.S. economics and trade
  • Gallup economy tracking –  trends in employment, economic confiedence, job creation, and consumer spending.
  • World Bank Social Indicators of Development and Trends in Developing Economies,Database of Political Institutions
  • EconData – Links to more than 300 sources of local and regional socioeconomic data in the U.S.
  • National Bureau of Economic Research: A nonprofit research organization that publishes top scholarship in the economics discipline; the studies frequently touch on topics such as education and health. Many important articles first appear in working paper form here, and much of the scholarship has a broad, public policy focus.

Data on social issues:

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics – data on topics relating to criminal justice in the United States, including characteristics of criminals and victims, homicide and drug trends, law enforcement, prosecution, sentencing, prisons and costs.
  • Department of Education – data on education and offers a broad set of links to other educational sites alphabetized by topic.
  • The Pew Forum – data on religion in the U.S.
  • Pew Hispanic – data on the Hispanic community in the U.S.
  • Pew Internet – data on internet usage and social impact
  • PubMed Central: This database, from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has more than 2 million open access, full-text studies that relate to public health and policy issues. The more general PubMed database contains more than 20 million articles, but some of them have restricted access.

Resources for researching your audiences:

Media Research on readers’ attitudes & issues

More data on Americans’ attitudes:

Demographic Data:

  • Census Data: This site gives state and national statistics on population, poverty, income, and crime, offering an abbreviated version of the very detailed statistics found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics This site offers extensive labor and economic statistics, featuring regional breakdowns of the U.S. economy, statistics on employment and unemployment, prices and living conditions, compensation, productivity, employment projections, and economic comparisons between countries. Also offered are news releases and publications on labor and economic issues.
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