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About Journalist's Resource

Based at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Journalist’s Resource examines news topics through a research lens. We surface scholarship relevant to media practitioners, bloggers, educators, students and general readers. Our philosophy is that peer-reviewed research studies can, at the very least, help anchor journalists as they navigate difficult terrain and competing claims. In 2013 the American Library Association named us one of the best free reference Web sites.

Our weekly email and Twitter feed serve to highlight the latest studies from academia that can inform public discourse. Given the deluge of research output every day, we aim to be a useful curator. Our searchable database contains top academic and governmental research that we have selected and synthesized. We strive to translate complex statistics into clear data points and reformulate the terminology of academic specialists into more accessible language, without sacrificing rigor or nuance. While we can’t provide access to the full text of every study, we try to provide at least a point of entry and highlight key points — and we encourage media members to contact the authors of the research directly.

We invite all those interested in policy and public affairs to use the site’s materials, in particular instructors, students and journalists. No registration is required; the materials are free and are under a Creative Commons license.

To understand the site’s basic goals, we recommend that you read our primer: “Introduction to Studies and Academic Research: How It Works and Why Journalists Should Care.”

Our project has partnered with the New York Times, for example, to help create more research-related resources for readers; other active partners include the Nieman Journalism Lab and Scholars Strategy Network at Harvard. We also foster the improvement of Wikipedia pages relating to policy topics.

Establishing and promoting the concept of knowledge-based reporting animates the project; the philosophy is articulated in the new book Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism, by Tom Patterson, our research director. Many of the nation’s top journalism educators and thinkers have been promoting the idea of bringing journalism closer to the research world — both to meet the profession’s social mission and to ensure its high value in an increasingly crowded marketplace — and our site strives to provide a structure for accomplishing this. A 2013 report, “Educating Journalists: A Plea for the University Tradition” — authored by former journalism school deans Jean Folkerts (UNC), John Maxwell Hamilton (LSU) and Nicholas Lemann (Columbia) — also articulates many of our aspirations and values with regard to journalism education.

See this for a little more on our philosophy:

The site is run by faculty, staff and graduate students at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, as part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. In addition to providing access to scholarly reports and papers on a wide range of topics, it makes available syllabi for educators and skills-based reference material.

Our database is always a work in progress, and we welcome new suggestions (email Denise Ordway). To meet the standards of the project, research must generally be:

  • The product of authoritative institutions such as major U.S. and international universities, research organizations or governmental bodies.
  • Based on rigorous research, without bias or ideological motivation.
  • Published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The three primary sections of the site are as follows:

  • The Studies section provide links to reliable, timely research in the categories of environment, economics, society, government, politics and international. Each study is accompanied by a brief overview summarizing its findings, teaching notes and links to other relevant material. Studies are selected by the Shorenstein Center research team, with tips and suggestions from a network of scholars and media members. To be included, research should be empirically based, peer-reviewed, published and the product of a major university, government body or nonpartisan research organization. See more on criteria for inclusion.
  • The Tip Sheets section offers information on core journalism skills, including interviewing, style, ethics and more, as well as links to online tutorials. We also feature our own “research chat” interviews with leading journalists and scholars.
  • The Syllabi section furnishes sample curricula on topics ranging from politics and health care to law and business. We include a mix of scholarship and journalistic readings in these units, and we encourage educators to review them and appropriate them as they see fit.

When making attributions to material on our website, we encourage you to cite the academic/government/research institution from which the information originally comes and/or the scholarly journal named. All other material should be credited to Journalist’s Resource. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us.