Pew Research: “The Non-Partisan Fact-Tank?”


While searching through the think tank directory I discovered the  The Pew Research Center. On the site the center claims that it is a “nonpartisan ‘fact tank’ that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” The site claimed that it did not take positions on policy issues, but rather provides facts and data that help inform the national dialogue. The Center’s work is often cited by policy-makers, journalists and academics, as well as advocates from across the political spectrum. Its work is carried out by the following seven projects:

1. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

2. Project for Excellence in Journalism

3. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

4. Pew Hispanic Center

5. Pew Global Attitudes Project

6. Pew Internet & American Life Project

7. Social & Demographic Trends

For my topic idea for the white paper, I was interested in looking at the impacts of texting and driving and policies that are currently in place, and others that are being recommended. I thought that this project and think tank might provide me with some key data to start understanding more about the issue. Additionally, I thought I could also research who used this data, as the site claims it is often used by policy-makers. I looked more closely at The Pew Internet Project as it conducts original research on the impact of the internet on individual groups, society, and politics. The project looks to be an “authoritative source for timely information on the internet’s growth and societal impact.”

As I looked through the think tank and I found several important articles and research done about texting and driving and cellphone use. In one report from 2010 the study found that 27% of American adults say they have texted while driving. This was equal to the 26% of driving age teens who said they have texted while driving. This could be relevant to my topic, as some arguments have focused only on the issue with teenage texting and driving.  This report shows the issue is not just with teenagers, but is a problem throughout age groups. I may use this data to support company, state and federal policies. Currently there is no federal law, and state laws vary on the issue. The site also provided a list of several media sources that cited the report. I can now explore these as well!

It appears the site does not try to advocate for specific policies and rather tries to supply information. However, every piece of writing or group has some bias and I would argue that the projects the center supports and the reports they conduct will have inherently be somewhat bias. That being said, I think this center is does a good job at being non-partial and will prove to be very helpful in my research for the white paper, by providing both informational reports and media sources who used the report.

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4 responses to “Pew Research: “The Non-Partisan Fact-Tank?”

  1. Pew is one of my favorites just for the quality of their research and the originality of some of their methods. You may recall I used their political self-quiz earlier in part because the 7 category breakdown they offered is more useful than a simple left-right dichotomy.

    As to their perspective, they definitely try to aim for “an above the fray” approach guided by their findings. However, even that stance can either reinforce certain value-positions or seem biased to others. For example, let’s say they do research on politics that finds that voter ID laws lower turnout. Some would say the very question- “does it lower turnout?”- supposes that higher turn out is good. Or, severla years ago, they did more research on the digital divide- who has access to computers and broadband and who doesn’t. ASKING the question implies it is a problem to be addressed. See, my point is that even the question suggests certain perspectives or ideals about the world as it is or should be.

  2. Texting and driving has been a huge issue recently. I think it is really interesting to note that there are almost just as many, if not more, “texting & driving” commercials on television than there are drinking and driving commercials. I also think it is best that Pew Research does not have positions rather than just state facts, because then, it would look as if Pew were conducting research that would best fit their beliefs.

  3. I think your topic is very interesting. Similar to the nutrition topic I discussed, texting and driving is a prevalent issue in society today. Your topic will make for a great research paper. There are probably various organizations, articles, and policy recommendations in addition to this think tank regarding this topic which will allow you to elaborate the societal impact of cell phone use while driving.

  4. Texting and driving is a really interesting issue today because it is a relatively new problem. Since technology has never been at a level where this is possible before, there are few precedents in terms of what policies should be made. This brings up questions such as “is it fair to compare texting and driving to calling and driving, or drunk driving?” It seems like you have found a good think tank also, and I think this will turn out to be a very interesting paper.

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