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Political Science

What are Think Tanks?

A think tank or policy institute, research institute, is an organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture. Most policy institutes are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, universities, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.

Why & how?

A good Think Tank will be a non-partisan research institute that does policy-analysis and policy research.  They can be a lab for critical, innovative ideas from authoritative sources that help shape policy. As a research tool for Policy and Political Science they are invaluable.

What? Authoritative Resources

Some Think Tanks are bi-partisan communication tools to promote their agenda. The following are non-partisan (or close to non-partisan) research resources. Also listed are two Think Tanks that are prominent on both the Right & Left.

Search Tip: Look for published articles, or reports, not news from these resources.


  • The RAND Corporation:
    • A government funded, accredited degree granting institution that is renowned for its economics and policy research.



  • Urban Institute:
    • A respected academic source of information for social and economic policy. Left-leaning in its policy stance.



Think Tank Search Engine

A custom search engine from Harvard that searches more than 600 think tank websites.