Background and Context

CQ Press Library is the definitive reference resource for research in American government, politics, history, public policy, and current affairs. A wealth of CQ Press resources and years of journalistic and editorial expertise are combined in this indispensable reference collection, including the award-winning CQ Researcher, useful for getting a broad overview of controversial issues.

Oxford Bibliographies Online is an authoritative guide to current scholarship in a wide variety of fields, written and reviewed by academic experts, with original commentary and annotations. Its focus is to recommend trusted sources in key topical areas. These sources are rigorously peer reviewed and vetted to ensure scholarly accuracy and objectivity.

Oxford Reference contains dictionary, language reference, and subject reference works published by Oxford University Press. Entries range in length from a short paragraph to a short article. For example, a search for "food desert" turns up brief definitions from English language dictionaries, as well as longer entries from subject dictionaries on geography and encyclopedias of contemporary politics. Article-length entries typically include a short bibliography.

News Sources

Below are a few resources for news from sources beyond the corporate and mainstream media outlets.

Alt-PressWatch provides full-text articles for over 210 publications of the alternative and independent presses, from 1970 to current.

Ethnic NewsWatch provides full-text articles from newspapers and periodicals published by ethnic and minority presses in the U.S., from 1942 to the present.

Factiva offers searchable full text of thousands of current newspapers globally.

Internet Archive: News & Public Affairs is a diverse video library that provides analysis of news and public affairs independent from traditional corporate media.

Nexis Uni offers searchable full text of thousands of current newspapers across the U.S. produces investigative journalism focused on pressing and underreported issues in the U.S., selectively offered to traditional news organizations for publication or broadcast, free of charge. Nearly all their online stories are reprintable, without cost, under a Creative Commons license. Regular topics include racial justice, education, criminal justice, immigration, and more.

Stateline from the Pew Charitable Trusts provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy. Stateline has maintained a commitment to the highest standards of nonpartisanship, objectivity, and integrity. Its team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.

Government Information

Harvard Research Guides created to enable the discovery of key free and licensed resources and services to enable you to accomplish your research goals. Selected guides

Papers and Reports from Think Tanks, Nongovernmental Organizations, & Advocacy Groups

Policy file Index enables users to access timely, updated information from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities. Coverage is from 1990-present.

IssueLab provides free access to thousands of case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs addressing some of the world's most pressing social problems from social sector organizations.

Selected Research Guide:

  • Think Tank Search searches the websites of institutions that generate public policy research, analysis, and activity.  Inclusion is based upon the relevancy of subject area to Harvard Kennedy School coursework and scholarship, the availability of the think tank's research in full-text on the website, and the think tank's reputation and influence upon policy making.

Social Media Research

Social Media Research Guide from the University of Michigan Library

Social Media Research a guide from the American University Library

Using Twitter as a Data Sources: an Overview of Social Media Research Tools (2019) - a post by Wasim Ahmed on the London School of Economics Impact Blog 


Proquest Statistical Insight is a database that indexes and abstracts the statistical content of selected United States government publications, state government publications, business and association publications, and intergovernmental publications.

Selected Harvard Research Guides:

Methodological Resources

Citizen Science: Theory and Practice (peer-reviewed open-access journal, 2016 - )
Focuses on advancing the global field of citizen science by providing a venue for citizen science researchers and practitioners to share best practices in conceiving, developing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining projects that facilitate public participation in scientific endeavors in any discipline.

Citizen Science Starter Kit
Provides information and training for researchers who are new to citizen science and are considering initiating a citizen science research project, regardless of the scientific discipline (e.g., natural sciences, formal sciences, medicine and health, arts and humanities, social sciences). Three modules are provided (comprising about 6 hours worth of material) to prepare new researchers to embark on their projects.

Community-Based Participatory Research: Testimonios from Chicana/o Studies (Deeb-Sossa, ed., 2019)
Contains 9 essays by activist scholars in Chicano studies and other areas who engaged in community-based participatory research in Chicana/o communities.

Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Smith, 2012)
Explores the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge, and argues that the decolonization of research methods will help reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.

Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology (Archibald, Lee-Morgan, De Santolo, and Smith, 2019)
Decolonizing Research brings together indigenous researchers and activists from Canada, Australia and New Zealand to assert the unique value of indigenous storywork as a focus of research, and to develop methodologies that rectify the colonial attitudes inherent in much past and current scholarship. Foreword by Linda Tuhiwai Smith.

The Oxford Handbook of Public Archaeology (Skeates, McDavid, & Carman, 2012)
Divided into four distinct sections and drawing across various disciplines, this volume seeks to reappraise the place of archaeology in the contemporary world by providing a series of essays that critically engage with both old and current debates in the field of public archaeology.

SAGE Research Methods (database)
A research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students explore qualitative research methods and concepts, design research projects, conduct research, and write up their findings. Features a convenient "methods map" and contains content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and case studies, as well as the entire “Little Green Book” and "Little Blue Book” series.

Evaluating Your Sources

When deciding whether or not to rely on a digital source to inform your project, be careful to reconstruct the context necessary to read, view, or listen to its information effectively.

  • SIFT: The Four Moves
    Four things to do (i.e., moves) when looking at a source: Stop, Investigate the source, find better coverage, and trace the original context. Read the linked page for helpful specifics.
  • Evaluating Think Tanks

Have Questions? Ask Us!

Profile Photo

Schedule Appointment

Profile Photo

Schedule Appointment