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IWU OCLS Tutorials: MPA Public Policy Guide


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Welcome to the MPA Public Policy Guide  


To navigate to the different sections use the tabs above. 


You can bookmark this page for quick access.




Getting Started

Research Hints

Key Resources



Looking for Full Text?


Key Resources

Related Resources

General Resources



Why Reference Materials? 

Available Books and Reference Books

Additional Materials

Reference Databases

eBook Databases


Government Information


Locating Government Information

Sources for Government Information

Sources for State Government Information

Sources for Municipal Government Information



Sources for Statistical Information

Other Data Resources



Sources for Policy Papers




Sources for Polling Information



News Sources

Sources for Newspaper Articles

News Sources on the Political Spectrum 



Public Finance 

Federal Government Resources



Useful Websites







Thank you! 

Portions of this guide were built using suggestions from Northwestern University Libraries.




Research Hints 

Key Resources




Research Hints


Is this journal Peer-Reviewed? 

Are you trying to figure out if a journal is peer-reviewed? 

Use Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory database

  • Search for the journal's name to see if it is peer-reviewed. 
  • In Ulrichs if the journal is peer-reviewed or refereed it will have a referee's jersey icon next to the journal's name. 



Key Resources


Looking for Full Text?


HTML or PDF Full Text

  • OCLS databases will usually have a button for HTML or PDF Full Text for the articles that come up in your search. 


Check Online Availability

  • There will be times when the HTML or PDF Full Text button is not available.
  • When this happens, click on the Check Online Availability button.
  • This will search through the other databases to see if full text is available through another database.


Print Journals

  • If full text is not available online, search in the library's online catalog for the journal's 
  • If IWU has the print article, request a copy of the article to be emailed to you.


Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  • If IWU does not have the article online or in print, you can request the article through ILL. 
  • Visit our ILL portal and log in with your myIWU username and password. 
  • Select the Request an Article button and fill out the form. 
  • Fill out all the publication information you have to make sure you received the correct article. 






"OCLS Google"



Key Resources




Related Resources




General Resources


Why Reference Materials?

You may ask, "Why would I use an encyclopedia, dictionary, or other reference materials for my research?".

  • Reference materials can provide background information. 
  • They can also be a good place to start when you are beginning research in an area you are unfamiliar with. 
  • Start your research by scanning a reference book to generate ideas about how to narrow or search for your topic.
  • You'll find keywords and related topics for your search strategy. You might even create an initial outline.
  • Reference articles usually offer additional resources in a bibliography you can use to track down more information!



Available Books and Reference Books 


Handbooks, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Guides



Additional Materials



Reference Databases


eBook Databases


Locating Government Information


Catalog of US Government Publications (GPO's CGP)

The finding tool for electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the US government.

You will find descriptions of historical and current publications along with direct links to items available online. 

  • Click Advanced in the top menu to get started. 
  • You can search by keyword, title, and authoring agency. 
  • Like other databases you can use:
    • Boolean search operators (AND, OR, and NOT)
    • Quotation marks for phrases
  • You can limit your search results by year.
  • When an electronic copy is available, click the link on the right side to access it.  
  • When you find a good publication, use its Subject - LC headings to find similar publications. 




Sources for Government Information

Called the U.S. government's official web portal, this site allows users to search for information across all federal agencies, as well as at the local and state levels.

This site from the Library of Congress provides legislative information including bill tracking, presidential nominations, the text of committee reports, and other information.





Sources for State Government Information


National Conference of State Legislatures

This site maintains a list of links to legislative resources by state.

NCSL State Legislative Websites Directory



National Governors Organization

A bipartisan organization of the nation's governors—promotes visionary state leadership, shares best practices, and speaks with a unified voice on national policy.




Sources for Municipal Government Information

(Cities, towns, and counties)


National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. Working in partnership with the 49 state municipal leagues, NLC serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than 19,000 cities, villages, and towns it represents

NLC State Municipal Leagues Directory



United States Conference of Mayors

Official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,296 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Database of Mayors - Full database of over 1,400 mayors from across the United States, representing cities with a population of 30,000 and larger. Search by mayor’s name or by city name. 



American Legal Publishing

This site offers several search options: (1) search all the codes in their library, which covers 32 states; (2) search all the codes within a state; and (3) select a city and search/browse its code.




Sources for Statistical Information

This site provides access to data from the most recent census at the state and local levels. provides access to governmental data sets with information ranging in areas from agriculture, education, to health.



National Center for Health Statistics

The NCHS provides information about the health of the population as well as disparities based on race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, region, or other population characteristics. They monitor trends in health status and evaluate the impact of health policies and programs.



UN Data

UN Data provides global statistics gathered by the United Nations Statistics Division. Users can locate information on education, agriculture, employment, and other topics.




Other Data Resources


Comparative Agendas Project

The Comparative Agendas Project collects and organizes data from archived sources to track policy outcomes across countries. CAP enables scholars, students, policy-makers, and the media to investigate trends in policy-making across time and between countries.









Annenberg Public Policy Center

This policy center produces research that looks at the role of communication in politics, adolescent behavior, child development, health care, civics, and mental health, and other areas. provides access to governmental data sets with information ranging in areas from agriculture, education, to health.



Center for Strategic & International Studies

An international policy institute, the CSIS focuses on a number of topics including defense and security, governance, technology, and global trends.



Policy Archive

This collection of public policy research is gathered from sources such as the American Bar Association, the Brookings Institution, the Ford Foundation, the Institute for Policy Studies, and others.



RAND Institute

The RAND institute provides research in a variety of areas such as arts, civil justice, education, national security, public safety, and other areas.









Pew Research Center: U.S. Politics and Policy

The center conducts monthly polls of public opinion on politics and policy issues.




Provides articles that summarize the results of recent, selected polling data. Includes some international polling.







Sources for Newspaper Articles



New Sources on the Political Spectrum


What news sources are left-leaning, centrist, or right-leaning?
There is no completely clear answer to this question because there is no one exact methodology to measure and rate the partisan bias of news sources.

Here are a couple of resources that can help:



All Sides is a news website that presents multiple sources side by side in order to provide the full scope of news reporting.

The Allsides Bias Ratings page allows you to filter a list of news sources by bias (left, center, right).



In the Middle

Common Ground: Centrist News Sources

  • Wall Street Journal
  • BBC News
  • USA Today


Almost Center News Sources

  • NPR
  • PBS NewsHour

Sources on the Left and Right

Towards the Left

  • New York Times
  • Washington Post


Far Left

  • Huffington Post
  • Mother Jones


Towards the Right

  • Fox News


Far Right

  • The Blaze / Glenn Beck Program
  • Drudge Report



Federal Government Resources


Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation.

  • Select the year and title you want to view.



Financial Reports of the United States Government

The Financial Report of the United States Government (Financial Report) provides the President, Congress, and the American people with a comprehensive view of the federal government's finances, i.e., its financial position and condition, revenues and costs, assets and liabilities, and other obligations and commitments. The Financial Report also discusses important financial issues and significant conditions that may affect future operations, including the need to achieve fiscal sustainability over the medium and long term.



A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process

This glossary is a basic reference document for Congress, federal agencies, and others interested in the federal budget-making process. Like previous editions, this revision emphasizes budget terms, but relevant economic and accounting terms are also defined to help the user appreciate the dynamics of the budget process and its relationship to other key activities (e.g., financial reporting). It also distinguishes between any differences in budgetary and nonbudgetary meanings of terms.



Budget of the United States Government

Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. Other related and supporting budget publications are included, which may vary from year to year.



Federal Reserve: Beige Book Archive

The “Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District,” report commonly known as the Beige Book, is published eight times per year.











Useful Websites


National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)

The National Association of State Budget Officers is the professional organization of state finance officers. The website offers a number of resources on state budgets as well as publications on state expenditures.



National League of Cities (NLC)

The National League of Cities advocates for cities and towns and provides information on finance and economic development; governance; housing; infrastructure; sustainability; and youth, education, and families.



Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

This public policy institute provides research on a number of areas of government including state and local government finance, federalism and intergovernmental relations, and government reform.



Tax Policy Center

The Tax Policy Center is a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. The Center is made up of nationally recognized experts in tax, budget, and social policy who have served at the highest levels of government. TPC provides timely, accessible analysis and facts about tax policy to policymakers, journalists, citizens, and researchers. 









A non-partisan, independent website that tracks congressional activity and the status of federal legislation.



Homeland Security Digital Library

This site provides access to documents related to homeland security policy, strategy, and organizational management. Documents cover federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies, as well as professional organizations, think tanks, academic institutions, and international governing bodies.






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