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PLCY 581/581H: Research Design for Public Policy: Home

Scholarly Articles

Is the article scholarly?

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Databases & Journals

Policies & Policy Analysis

Government information

Example think tanks

Find Policies

Research Design

Finding Data - Strategies

  • Define the specific elements of your question:  time, geography and subject matter.
  • Consider what organizations might pay for data collection on your topic.
    • government (international, national, state, local...)
    • trade associations
    • non-profits
    • academe (directly from a researcher or indirectly from a repository)
  • Read the literature for possible sources, but beware that sources noted in articles may not be openly available.
  • Will data be costly in terms of money or time to obtain?  Do you have the requisite knowledge to manipulate it?
  • Cite your data to make them easier for others to find.  See more below about how to format data citations.

Understanding Data

  • Read the technical documentation!
  • Consider the purpose for which data were collected, and their limitations.
  • Ask the experts (both about finding and understanding data).

Potential Sources

Citing Data

Writing & Citing


UNC Writing Center Offers online consultations. Check out their tips on writing a policy brief, literature reviews and conciseness.

What Makes a Good Research Question? Handout from Duke University's (yes, Duke) Thompson Writing Program Writing Studio. Has good guidelines for and examples of research questions in the social sciences, but much applies to the humanities as well.


APA Citations - UNC Library Guide and Purdue OWL

Social Sciences Librarian

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Kristan Shawgo
Davis Library
UNC-Chapel Hill
Available for meetings on Zoom

Data Librarian

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Michele Hayslett
My pronouns are she, her, hers.
Data Management
Numeric Data
Census Data
Locating Data

If you would like to request we acquire data, please carefully read the guidelines at

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