Think Tanks & Policy Centers


The term "think tanks" is an imprecise phrase used to describe a wide range of non-profit research organizations which engage in public policy analysis and research, and often advocate solutions. Some are strictly nonpartisan, researching policy issues without regard to political outcomes, while others see one of their main functions as that of providing intellectual support to politicians or parties. They are as ubiquitous in the American political scene as interest groups, media consultants, "spin doctors", and the political parties themselves.

Resources marked with this symbol are restricted to Columbia affiliates.

Online Catalogs

  • CLIO: Columbia Libraries Online Catalog
    CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia and Barnard libraries. It includes over 4 million records for books, journal or newspaper titles (not articles), online resources, government documents, microforms, sound or video recordings, archival collections, etc.
  • Pegasus: Columbia University Law School Library Online Catalog
    Pegasus includes: U.S. federal and state law, selected Commonwealth jurisdictions, major foreign language collections and, since 1983, vernacular and Western language materials pertaining to law in Japan and the People's Rep. of China.
  • WorldCat
    An online catalog of the collections of 24,000 member libraries of the OCLC consortium, comprising more than 36 million records for books, serials, manuscript collections, audiovisual materials, computer files, and other media.
  • Borrow Direct
    A borrowing service offered by the university libraries of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. It is designed to allow students, faculty and staff to request (and receive in four days) books directly from each other's collections.

Books, Journals, & Articles

  • Abelson, Donald E.
    A Capitol Idea: Think Tanks and U.S. Foreign Policy.
    Montreal ; Kingston : McGill-Queen’s University Press, c2006.
    Call Number: E744 .A2145 2006g
  • Abelson, Donald E.
    Do Think Tanks Matter? : Assessing the Impact of Public Policy Institutes.
    Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, c2002.
    Call Number: H97 .A24 2002
  • Lieberman, Trudy.
    Slanting the Story: the Forces That Shape the News.
    New York : New Press, 2000.
    Call Number: PN4888 .C598 L54 2000
  • Ladi, Stella.
    Globalisation, Policy Transfer and Policy Research Institutes.
    Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : E. Elgar, c2005.
    Call Number: H97 .L33 2005
  • McGann, James G.
    Comparative Think Tanks, Politics and Public Policy.
    Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar, c2005.
    Call Number: H97 .M43 2005
  • McGann, James G.
    Think Tanks and Policy Advice in the US: Academics, Advisors and Advocates.
    New York, NY : Routledge, 2007.
    Call Number: JK468.P64 M35 2007
  • NIRA's World Directory of Think Tanks 2005, 5th ed.
    Presented by the National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA),Tokyo. Information on 318 think tanks from 89 countries and regions, with links to them when available.
  • Organizations for Policy Analysis: Helping Government Think.
    Newbury Park, CA : Sage, 1992.
    Call Number: JK468 .C7 O74 1992
  • PolicyExperts.org
    A searchable database of the conservative movement, presenting detailed information on over 300 public policy organizations in the U.S. and over 2200 public policy experts by area of expertise, presented by the Heritage Foundation.
  • Public Interest Profiles. Biennial.
    Washington, D.C. : Foundation for Public Affairs, 1977/78- .
    Call Number: JK1118 .P8
        Contains a chapter on think tanks, with detailed descriptions, including budget data and funding sources.
  • Ricci, David M.
    The Transformation of American Politics : the New Washington and the Rise of Think Tanks.
    New Haven : Yale University Press, c1993.
    Call Number: JK468 .C7 R53 1993 (Copies available in multiple locations)
  • Rich, Andrew.
    Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise.
    Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.
    Call Number: H97 .R53 2004
  • Stone, Diane.
    Capturing the Political Imagination: Think-Tanks and the Policy Process.
    London ; Portland, OR : Frank Cass, 1996.
    Call Number: H97 .S833 1996
  • Think Tank Directory: a Guide to Independent Nonprofit Public Policy Research Organizations. 2nd ed.
    Topeka, KS : Government Research Service, 2006.
    Call Number: H65 .T54 2006g
  • Think Tanks Across Nations: a Comparative Approach.
    Manchester : Manchester University Press, 1998.
    Call Number: H62 .T4295 1998g
  • Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and Action.
    New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Publishers, c2000.
    Call Number: H97 .T478 2000

List of Think Tanks

The Web sites for the think tanks which follow offer a wide variety of information -- some have the full text of many of their publications available for downloading. Columbia University Libraries also has many of their print publications. Search CLIO with the think tank as an author to locate them; for example, a=rand.

CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online
Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO) is designed to be the most comprehensive source for theory and research in international affairs. It publishes a wide range of scholarship from 1991 on that includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, and proceedings from conferences.