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Health and Public Policy (10:832:338): Think Tanks and more


Think Tanks- " imprecise phrase used to describe a wide range of non-profit research organizations which engage in public policy analysis and research, and may/often advocate solutions." ( Lehman Social Sciences Library, Columbia University).  Examples include Urban Institute, Brookings Institute, etc. See next definition as well.

Other Related Terms: Research Institutes, Policy Research Institutes, Foundations-organizations where staff conduct economic and social policy research that is "non-partisan," i.e., not politically affiliated.  However, this does not mean the organization does not have a perspective on the issues, but it may be less directly aimed at getting a specific legislative or regulatory result.  Foundations may also fund the research of others, e.g., Commonwealth Fund. And, there are research institutes affiliated with universities.

Interest Groups, Advocacy Groups-a collection of individuals who seek joint ends through political action and tend to have narrow goals focused around an issue or issue area.  These can be: private groups, sponsored by corporations, private industry; non-profit or citizens groups, e.g., AARP, Children's Defense Fund; labor groups.  The organizations may conduct research or use others research to support position, provide policy briefings, etc.

Bottom Line:  Make sure you read the "about us" or mission statements of the organizations to understand what you are seeing! Context is important!

Tips for Finding & Exploring Educational/Policy/Advocacy sites

  • Whether the group is an educational/policy group, advocacy organization, or professional association, be sure to read the section of its web site that describes the mission and goals of the group.  This is usually an "About us," link.
  • Most educational/think tank/policy sites will have an "Issues" our "Topics" link-be sure to check this out.
  • To find advocacy groups, think about trade or professional associations that may be invested in your issue.
  • Once you find an advocacy organization, look for links on its website to "news alerts,", "legislation or legislative action," "testimony," etc.


Think Tanks/Policy Centers/Research Centers-Focus on Health

Think Tanks/Policy Centers/Research Centers

Interest Groups, Advocacy Groups, Professional/Trade Groups- a sampling

Public Opinion


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