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NHIOP Civic Leadership Academy

Introduction


This research guide will steer you toward the best resources for researching public policy issues, both in Geisel Library and online. The information you find in these sources will serve as a foundation for your policy proposal for the state of New Hampshire. For further research assistance, please speak with a reference librarian at Geisel Library. To acquaint yourself with the layout and services of Geisel Library, take our Virtual Tour.

 


Broad Picture Research


Background Sources

Before developing your policy proposal, it is important to get background information on the issue that you want to address. Here are some resources that can help you understand the broader context of your issue.

CQ Researcher
CQ reports provide detailed, non-partisan overviews of important political and social issues. Each report examines the issue's background, assesses the current situation, and offers pro/con statements from opposing groups. Search for relevant reports by entering keywords in the Quick Search box.

Library Catalog
Geisel Library collects books on all major policy issues. Try searching one or more keywords that represent the issue you intend to analyze. When you find a useful book, check in its catalog record for Subject Headings that are relevant to your topic. If you find a good Subject Heading, click on it to find the names of similar books. To determine where a book resides in the library, look at the letter portion of its call number and check the floorplan for the call number range that includes it.

Opposing Viewpoints (books)
This series of books discusses major issues from competing perspectives. They are very useful for familiarizing yourself with the arguments made by both sides in policy debates.

IssueWeb (Reference Collection, ZA4228 .D53)
Searching the Internet can yield an abundance of information, but it can be difficult to determine whether a website's information is authoritative, objective, and reliable. The IssueWeb book will direct you to Internet resources that meet all these criteria. For each of over 40 major policy issues, the book lists the best and most relevant websites for background, news, data, and legislation. Many of the listed sites are produced by governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, or advocacy groups. Search these sites for reports, statistics, and background information.

Journal and Magazine Articles

Articles in popular magazines provide approachable discussions of hot political issues, while academic journal articles offer a more focused, scholarly examination of specific aspects of an issue. Geisel Library subscribes to two databases of periodical articles that should cover most important public policy issues: Academic Search Premier and SocINDEX.

Start your search by entering one or more keywords related to your issue, using the Boolean operator "AND" to link together different concepts. For example, search "energy AND renewable" to look for articles about renewable sources of energy, or "immigra* AND policy" to find articles about policies dealing with immigrants (note that the asterisk is a wildcard that can stand in for one or more characters; this will pick up articles with words such as immigrant, immigrants, or immigration). Limit your search results to articles that are available either online or in the library's collection by marking all the checkboxes at the top of the "Limit your results" section.

Once you run your search, make use of the limiters across the top of the search results screen to narrow your focus to Academic Journals (to get scholarly treatments) or Magazines (for popular magazine articles). Click on a Subject along the left-hand side to narrow your results to articles dealing with that particular topic. If there is a PDF or HTML fulltext link below the article's citation, you can open and print it. Otherwise, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. Print periodicals are all located on the library's Lower Level, alphabetized by journal title.

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database allows you to find popular magazine and scholarly journal articles on a vast range of topics. This is the best place to begin exploring.

Business Source Premier
This database provides full-text articles and article abstracts from magazines and journals in the areas of business, management, economics, finance, and banking.

SocINDEX
This sociology database provides articles related to all subdisciplines of sociology, including criminal justice, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, social psychology, urban studies, and other social issues.

 

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New Hampshire Specific Research


Online Newspaper Archives

Articles from regional and local newspapers will describe historical and recent developments related to the issue you're exploring. Geisel Library provides searchable online access to the historical archives of several New Hampshire newspapers plus the Boston Globe and New York Times.

Boston Globe
Full-text of articles published in the Boston Globe from 1988 to the present (Lexis-Nexis).

Manchester Union Leader
Full-text articles published in the Manchester Union Leader from 1989 to the present (Lexis-Nexis).

Newspaper Source
This database provides full-text articles from selected issues of the Nashua Telegraph (2001-present) and Claremont Eagle-Times (2003-present). To search one of these publications, click the Publications link (just below the Advanced Search tab), then click on either T (for Telegraph) or E (for Eagle-Times), and click on the newspaper's name. Finally, click on the "Search within this publication" link and enter your keywords.

New York Times
Full-text of articles published in the New York Times from June 1, 1980 to the present, in the Final New York City Edition (Lexis-Nexis).

Government Reports and Legislation

In the course of developing your policy proposal, it will be important to research state government publications related to your issue, such as the prevailing laws, legislative proposals, and analytical reports produced by state agencies.

New Hampshire General Court (Legislature)
The official homepage of the New Hampshire state legislature. It includes tools for searching legislation, browsing or searching state laws (the Revised Statutes Online), and checking out recent activity in the New Hampshire House and Senate.

New Hampshire Judicial Branch
Read recent opinions and orders from the various levels of the court system in New Hampshire. This may be useful if there are legal issues surrounding your proposed policy initiative.

New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau
This agency gathers socioeconomic data and produces publications that summarize its findings. Click on the Reports/Publications link to access documents such as the annual "Vital Signs" report, which reviews economic trends in the state.

New Hampshire State and Local Government Links (Piper Resources)
Quick links to all the agencies and departments of the New Hampshire government. This will give you access to the websites of agencies that may have a stake in your policy proposal, such as the Depts. of Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation. Many of these websites contain publications assessing conditions and trends in New Hampshire.

Google Search of NH.Gov
To locate state government reports and data, try adding keywords related to your issue to a Google search that includes the phrase "site:nh.gov". This will limit the search to New Hampshire government websites.

 

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Key Statistics Research


Statistics can help bolster your arguments in a variety of ways. For example, well-chosen statistics can identify demographic, social or economic trends that suggest the need for policy changes.

How to Find Statistics (Geisel Library)
This webguide presents an annotated listing of the best print and online statistical resources. Consult the General statistical sources for demographic and social indicators, and check Statistics by Subject for data on topics such as crime, education, and health.

New Hampshire Data Center Library
This website compiles statistics on New Hampshire's population, economy, taxes, health, and other characteristics.

Statistical Abstract of the United States (Reference Collection HA202 .U5)
This annual publication is the best single-volume source for US statistics. It gathers data on a wide range of topics, as produced by various US government agencies.

 

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Key Audiences to Win Over


Identifying politicians who can help promote your policy is a crucial step in the process. Think about which committees or regions of New Hampshire may have the biggest stake in the passage of your legislation.

New Hampshire House
Find out who serves on the House standing committees, or identify House members by county or city and learn about their voting records and sponsorship of current bills.

New Hampshire Senate
Find out who serves on the Senate standing committees, or learn more about individual Senators and their sponsorship of current bills.

 

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Citing Sources


This project requires that you create a bibliography of sources that you used in your research. Geisel Library has both print and electronic resources on how to properly cite research materials. Be sure to write down basic citation information on each source you use, such as title, author, publication date, and website URL. To generate properly-formatted references, plug your citation information into the bibliography composer tool on EasyBib.

 

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Contents


Research Portal:
Super Problem Solver Project

Civic Leadership Academy
New Hampshire Institute of Politics
Summer 2007

Seal of the state of New Hampshire

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Contents
Introduction
Broad Picture Research
   •  Background Sources
   •  Journal and Magazine Articles
New Hampshire Specific Research
   •  Online Newspaper Archives
   •  Government Reports and Legislation
Key Statistics Research
Key Audiences to Win Over
Citing Sources