The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization of 187 member countries created to promote international monetary cooperation, to foster economic growth and to provide temporary financial assistance. Its website is consequently focused on monetary and economy matters worldwide and within specific countries, providing free full access to a large amount of info and material from different sources, organized in reports, press releases, data-sheets, many full-text working papers and other e-publications. Many files can be freely downloaded in pdf and csv formats, while a simple but powerful keyword search facility help users to retrieve the desired records. In some pages, especially for unexperienced users, the site exerts a feel of information overload. Indeed, a special link for ‘first time visitors’ in the homepage provides a detailed overview and a guided tour of the site content, with helpful tips on how to successfully find and access its material. Also provided a site index, a sitemap, an ‘how-to’ guide for pdf and csv files, a faqs file. The site design is very professional, complete and attentive to usability features. A smaller but nevertheless extensive (and useful) version of the website is also available in French and Spanish. The IMF website provides updated and extensive information on the many issues related to global economy. Recently added, the new video section already includes today more than 900 items.
International Monetary Fund
Information, publications and data from the IMF
A foundation enhancing research in the social sciences
Founded in 1965 as a cultural association and then developed as a research foundation some decades later, the Cattaneo Institute represent a reference point for the social sciences research in Italy. Mainly focused on Italian socio-political issues, its research activities are organized into three main branches: politics (political participation, government and institutions, terrorism, public communication, etc.), society (social capital, mafia and criminality, immigration, etc.) and culture (education, univeristy, cultural policy). For each research field a rich description of every single research project is provided along with the possibility of searching the main Cattaneo publications on the topic through a multiple search feature. Along with a detailed presentation of the Institute’s activities, the Cattaneo website shows updated lists of its periodical initiatives (conferences, seminars, working group meetings). Rich data and documentation archives are also present, partly directly accessible online for free (and downloadable in xls format) or available through a free subscription. Other records are downloadable in pdf or can be saved in standard html format. The website is clearly organized and access and navigation are fully free. The overall updating rate is good although no english translation is available.
Mannheim Centre for European Social Research
A research institute focused on European issues
The MZES is an interdisciplinary research institute of the University of Mannheim. In close association with the Department of Social Sciences, it has dedicated itself since its founding in 1989 to the investigation of political and societal developments in Europe. Its focuses are on comparative research on Europe and the exploration of the European integration process. Research activity is supported by a well-established infrastructure, which includes the Europe Library, the data archive Eurodata and Archive for Information on Textual Sources in an integrated OPAC. MZES supplies comprehensive basic information as well as numerous databases for research on Europe. Completely free of charge, this large material collection includes working papers and historical datasets (such as the Mannheim Eurobarometer Trend File and detailed analysis on political leaders and democratic elections), with access to article abstracts and book reviews, full-text annual reports, news on recent lectures and events. Well designed and organized, the site interface is provided both in English and German, with an overall navigation quite easy and intuitive, including an elaborated search facility providing users with multiple options.
Oxford Internet Institute
A renowned center for the study of internet and society
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII), a department within the Social Sciences Division of the Oxford University, has become a leading world centre for the multidisciplinary study of internet and society. Focused on internet-related research, education and policies, the OII has been founded in 2001 and has an independent status which allows it to pursue a wide range of academic research interests free of governmental or commercial influence. The OII aims at bringing about a greater understanding of the various social factors that are shaping the internet, and their implications for society through a series of strategic activities including (among others) high-quality academic research, Masters and Doctoral teaching, and fostering wide-ranging collaborative relationships with experts from many different fields and entities. This comprehensive website makes available internet issue briefs, forum discussion papers, research reports and selected publications, both as abstract and full-text format, plus live and on-demand web-casts of prominent speakers, events and conferences held by and in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute. All available material can be downloaded or retrieved for free. Along with frequently updated news items and research papers, the site features a “blogosphere” section – an aggregate feed of OII faculty and student blogs.
A US think-tank aimed at improving policy and decisionmaking process
Created as a think tank in 1946, RAND (“Research and Development”) now assists all branches of the U.S. military community, and applies its expertise to social and international issues, like health care, workers’ economic conditions and health insurance, environment. Much of its research is carried out on behalf of public and private sponsors and clients, even if RAND also conducts its own research on issues that might otherwise not receive funding. The website provides a huge amount of records: almost 10,000 publications (books, reports, papers, bibliographical datasets) completely free for all visitors, as well as detailed pages about the corporation organization, its mission and projects. All provided materials are entirely downloadable for free in full-text version by all users and offered with abstracts and rich annotations. Under a professional outline, plenty of cutting edge material is quite easy to locate and access. Many search options are provided (advanced keyword engine, by categories or alphabetical index) and records are accessible in various formats. New publications and content are added daily, and many navigational aids are also offered to simplify navigation. Avoiding any overload and confusing approach, this site features a Flash-based slideshow, RSS news feed and a comprehensive site index.
Research and Documentation Centre on Direct Democracy
Direct democracy initiatives around the world
Founded in 1993 at the Department of Constitutional Law of the University of Geneva, the Research and Documentation Centre on Direct Democracy (C2D) consists of researchers and professors in law, political science and sociology who have devoted their research interests to direct democracy as a form of contemporary democracy. The website provides information, advice and counselling on different aspects of direct democracy to public authorities, universities and individuals in Switzerland and abroad. The heart of the centre is an electronic database on direct democracy in Switzerland, Europe and the world, which contains information on the institutions (referendum and popular initiative) of direct democracy as well as on their use in popular votes. The data cover the results of nearly 3,500 vote events in more than 200 countries, protectorates, provinces and other geographical entities from 1791 to 2000. In the news section, researchers and users will find an exhaustive overview on recent developments on direct democracy in Switzerland and the world. Finally, a rich bibliography allows researchers to find references and publications on direct democracy. Each record is offered free of charge, searchable through advanced search engines and mainly downloadable in its original format. The C2D website can be displayed in four languages and presents a clear design. Users are supported by several navigation tools.
The OECD online library
SourceOECD is an e-library offering online access to all OECD publications and reports, covering economic and social issues from macroeconomics and trade to education, development, science and innovation. This rich websource comprises 20 thematic book collections, 24 periodicals, 3 reference titles, 24 OECD statistical databases and 10 other statistical databases from other sources, all in full-text and retrievable in pdf format. Despite the richness of contents, the website gives no problems for orientation and item retrieval: well structured and integrated webpages are offered in English and French, with advanced search tools (operating with Boolean indicators) and simple downloading feature. Access to the portal is free, but only authorised users can obtain the full text of the publications and access the databases. Working papers are instead availbale for free. An abstracting and indexing service is also provided offering collection of citations from thousands of sources in over ten languages. An individual or institutional affiliation is required to retrieve the full library’s materials, and printed editions are available, as an option, within every subscription. Free trial periods are available. An user guide is retrievable in various languages for understanding the website’s mission and functioning. Orientation is quite simple in this dense website.
The Aspen Institute
An international network for fostering leadership
As US-based think-thank with an international network and centers in many countries, the Aspen Institute aims at serving as a forum of ideas supporting public and private sector policy decision making, and fostering the internationalization of entrepreneurial political and cultural leadership through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives. Its interests cover a large range of topics such as international peace and security, democracy and citizenship, economic opportunity, social innovation. For each project the Aspen website provides reports, articles, sample readings and books tables of contents. It also gives access to a good quantity of detailed info about the Institute mission, its staff and its fifteen policy programs, as well as presenting links to related websites. Full-text material is generally freely accessible and mainly downloadable in pdf format or in other textual or multimedia format, while, for records presented in list form or for webpages, printer-friendly versions are available. Full-text books are retrievable only by purchasing them in a specific bookstore section, while abstracts and tables of contents are provided for free. With its multiple search features, downloading options and navigation facilities, this website provides a high level of usability.
The Brookings Institution
An institute devoted to policy studies
The Brookings Institution is one of the oldest Washington’s think tank and the first one devoted to research and analysis on economics, foreign policy, governance, and metropolitan policy. More than 300 scholars in several research programs, nine specialized policy centers, and more than forty research projects, do research on key contemporary issues and write books, papers, articles, and opinion pieces, whose results are published (about fifty books a year) by Brookings Institution Press. The Brookings website is completely open and free and provides, for each research topic, program and project lists, contents and info about works in progress and scholars, as well as lengthy descriptions of related books published by Brookings. A Books-Online program offers online access also to full-text versions of a growing list of titles for a total amount of several thousands records. Other materials (papers, articles, interviews, etc…) are freely full-text retrievable usually in pdf format, sometimes also in video/audio format. Users can also subscribe to several mailing or alert lists as well as participate in discussion forums on various topics.
The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement
A learning environment on ICT-based civic engagement
Located at the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement (CCCE) is dedicated to develop new areas of citizen involvement in politics and social life. Its primary focus is to understand how new information and communication technologies (ICTs) can supplement more traditional forms of communication and facilitate new forms of participation. Its website offers classification and detailed annotations to a large sets of records, concerning infos on the Center’s projects and staff as well as publications and conference programs, with high updating frequency. It also gives access to a scientific and technical literature database, mainly focused on how ICTs can be applied to solve social problems in developing countries. The website provides project reports, academic research, working papers, pre-prints, committee proceedings, scientific and technical documentation. Records are provided free of charge, searchable through a sophisticated search engine and downloadable in their original formats. In addition, some navigational facilities such as a sitemap and a clear categorization, support item location and immediate orientation.