WR 122 Robillard & Fierman: Websites, Stats, and Think Tanks

Why stats and think tanks?

Often, searching the web gives us an overwhelming number of possible sources. The purpose of this tab is to offer a few more targeted resources to address more specific research needs. Think tanks are great for analysis, and if you need statistics, consider the government sources. Researching a local topic? Try these local resources for more targeted results. 

Also, please review the box about advanced Google strategies: it will really help you have a little more control over the secretive Google algorithm. Remember that Google, like other things we use online, is filtering our searches based on a number of factors including what we have searched for before, where we live, what sort of a device we are using...etc. Your results will be different than somebody else even if you search for the exact same words. Advanced search techniques allow you to target your search and give you a bit more control over what you get back! 

Advanced Google Searching

Google's advanced search lets you limit your search to more reliable resources, like education sites or government sites. To do this, add site:edu or site:gov to your regular Google search.

For example: 

  • If you do an ordinary Google search for nutritional supplements, most of your top results will be commercial (.com) sites trying to sell you vitamins.
  • If you search for nutritional supplements site:gov , the top results (except for the sponsored ads) will be sites such as the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, which are authoritative, unbiased sources that are not trying to sell you anything.
  • If you search for nutritional supplements site:edu, your top results will be from universities providing research on nutritional supplements.

Learn more Google Search tips from "6 Google Tricks That Will Turn You Into an Internet Detective" in the New York Times.

Think Tanks & Research Organizations

Think tanks and other research organizations can be a great place to find authoritative information for free online. Know that most research organizations and think tanks have a perspective or bias that informs what they research and how they frame the results. Do a web search or look at Wikipedia to figure out their perspective if you aren't familiar with the site. 

US Statistics

Agencies of the federal government track and report on many aspects of American life, and are often a great place to find statistics. Consider also using the advanced search technique described on this page using site:gov to find government statistics. 

Local & Regional Topics

Considering a local or regional topic? Local news sources and some government websites will be good places to start. Below are some ideas for the Portland, Oregon area.