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SOAN 310: Sociology of Mass Incarceration

For Professor Annette Nierobisz

Library Tools for Finding Policy Documents

In ProQuest Congressional (above), be sure to filter to CRS reports. 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a trusted, non-partisan research service for Congress providing research and analysis on policy issues. CRS Reports are a rich resource for any kind of policy research.

Topical Policy Resources

Advanced Google Tips for Finding Policy Documents

Google allows you to filter or narrow to specific types of results if you know the tricks. Here are some ways to find policy documents using Google.

Limit to a known web site

Limit to PDF documents to focus on formal reports and publications
    policing filetype:pdf

Limit to a domain to focus on federal or state government documents, works from educational institutions, or nonprofits

Remember to scan for where information is coming from when deciding what to click on.

Legislation and Policy - National Level

Legislation and Policy - State Level

Evaluating Think Tanks


  • Timeframe
  • Relevance - does it have the information I need? Is it created for the right audience (e.g. researchers or policy makers)? How is it connected to the topic?
  • Authority - who wrote it and what makes them qualified to provide this sort of information? Would you consider this creator to be an expert in the topic at hand?
  • Accuracy - are the facts correct? Can you verify them with other sources? Are claims backed up with data? Does the author provide sources? Did it go through any type of review process?
  • Purpose - why was this created? What underlying motive or bias might the author or organization bring to this information?

Questions to Consider:

  • Read the About section. Does the organization clearly identify its political leanings or its neutrality?
  • Does the organization focus on one issue alone? If so, look carefully at its funding.
  • Look up the address. Is it a street address or a post office box? Google either: Is it shared with other organizations? Do they share a suite, a phone? What is their relationship?
  • These tips and more from "Writing About Think Tanks and Using Their Research: A Cautionary Tip Sheet" from Journalists Resource.