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Social Issues Research

General Tips for Social Issue Research:

1. Remember the "ABCs!" 

Check each source for Authority, Bias, and Currency. Do both vertical reading (read the About Us page of the organization and see what they say about themselves; look at any info provided about the author) and lateral reading (Google the organization and author and see what others say about them). Is the source an expert on your topic (education or work experience in that field)? What was their purpose for publishing the page you're reading? Do they have any biases that would interfere with giving you accurate information? Be mindful of the date of publication. How much would this issue have changed since that date?

2. Keywords (search terms) are especially important for these topics. 

Social issues are usually controversial, and people on different sides use very different words to describe the issue that are often "loaded" with their own viewpoint. Think "pro life" versus "anti abortion," or "gun safety" versus "gun control," or "police brutality" versus "officer-involved shooting." The words you use to search will determine the sources you get. As you research, collect a "toolbox" of all the different words people are using and try many different searches to balance the results you get.

3. Balance perspectives.

EVERY source has SOME bias, even the really neutral ones. Ex: The job of the Peace Corps is to help people around the world, but they're U.S. based so their perspective is a little bit American. Try to gather a variety of sources to balance out the total information you're receiving.


SIRS Researcher

This database from ProQuest focuses on controversial current issues. 

EBSCO: Points of View

This database from EBSCO focuses on controversial current issues.

ProCon began as a nonprofit organization with the goal of informing the public about controversial issues in a debate-style way by presenting the arguments and research on both sides. They were recently acquired by the Britannica group (publisher of the encyclopedia) which should continue to contribute to the quality of their sources and editing.

United Nations Global Issues

Part of the United Nations website that introduces all the world issues that the United Nations believes are most important.

State Dept: International problems

The State Department is the branch of the U.S. government that deals with solving problems diplomatically (rather than through war). These are some of the major policy problems they face.

15 Issues Facing Humanity (Millennium Project)

This global nonprofit founded in the 1990s works on solving the most important problems facing humanity around the globe.

World Economic Forum Global Risks Report

These are the worldwide problems that the World Economic Forum has identified as the biggest.

UNICEF (children's issues)

UNICEF is the United Nations Children's Fund, and focuses on children's issues (children's health, infant mortality, education, etc).

International Bureau of Education

Part of UNESCO; focuses on international education-related issues.

White House: Top National Issues

A page on the domestic (U.S.) problems that the White House believes are most important. In terms of bias, it's important to realize that part of the purpose of this page is to publicize what the President is doing about these problems, so it's definitely written from a particular perspective. However, it's a good way to get an idea of the major problems facing Americans.

New York Times


ProPublica is a nonprofit news agency founded and run by former New York Times and Wall Street Journal editors and journalists. Its purpose is to promote unbiased, investigative journalism in a time when many news agencies are only printing sensational stories, "the stuff that will sell." Very interesting site!

Democracy Now

A nonprofit, independent news agency dedicated to independent reporting of news and not funded by corporate interests. Strives for neutrality but usually falls on the left-leaning side of the political spectrum.

Boston Globe

Atlantic Monthly

LA Times



PBS Video

Scientific American - For Science news

CNN News Videos


NPR radio interviews -- This American Life program

TED Talks

Science Daily: Environmental Issues

Amnesty International

An international nonprofit that focuses on human rights abuses.

Doctors Without Borders

A nonprofit that works on health issues globally.


The international coalition of Red Cross and Red Crescent groups. Health, natural disasters, related issues.

The Hunger Project

A nonprofit focusing on world hunger

Peace Corps

A U.S.-based governmental organization that works internationally on education, health, poverty, and other social issues.