Thematic Sites » Thematic Networks

Politische Bildung Online
A German portal on current political and social topics

Politische Bildung Online portal was created in 2000 by both the German Federal and the Regional Agencies for Civic Education with the aim of enhancing and promoting civic and political knowledge and information to the German public. Its pages and contents – available in German only – offer a wide range of materials and sources about many political and social topics. The structure of this portal consists in different sections each providing a different kind of records. For example, online versions of federal and regional Politische Bildung agencies publications are fully available in pdf or html format, while newspaper articles and reports about current hot topics are offered with a direct link to the original source along with annotations and descriptions. Also some elearning materials are available, linked to specific online projects and mainly related to EU-topics, all described and available for all interested. A web-catalogue shows about 2,000 websites and sources classified by topics and carefully described with plenty of metainfo. Records are downloadable in many different formats, included many audio/video files. Access is completely open and free for all users. Printed versions of desired records can be ordered for free or purchased online. The overall outline is sophisticated but well designed and in compliance with W3C standards.

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Social Movements, Pressure Groups and Political Parties
A repository of collective material and actors

Compiled by members of the Soziologisches Institut of the Universität Zürich and part of the larger resource “Sociology in Switzerland”, the Social Movements, Pressure Groups and Political Parties website is essentially a wide collection of online journals, texts and external links. Focusing on the study of social organizations, this website covers a wide range of areas and subjects from environmentalism to political extremism and voluntary associations. It provides long lists of articles, publications and various full texts on voluntary associations as well as connections to external web-resources and journals. A simple content organization and a few annotations are offered for each item, available in English and/or German. Users can access most material free of charge but some related journals require a subscription, yet offering abstracts at no payment. Although records can be downloaded in their original format, generally in pdf, no advanced search feature is available. While new material is posted regularly, only some basic navigational mapping is provided and the general outline is simple but effective.

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Structure and Organization of Government
An IPSA research committee

Established as a study group in 1988, the Structure and Organization of Government (SOG) is a research committee of the International Political Science Association devoted to the comparative study of executive branches and their changing roles in public policy making. At the center of its focus are the dynamics of public bureaucracies and their relations with political executives and interests of civil societies. The SOG website provides lists of contents for recent issues of the committee’s journal “Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration” with a good updating rate, besides giving annotated information about the members of the committee and their recent publications (that can be sorted by countries or alphabetically, by member or by publication). As far as conferences are concerned, calls for papers, schedules, reports and panels presentations are offered and can be freely downloaded. The website is entirely free of charge and provides advanced search engines for record location. Downloading feature could be more developed: usually only webpage saving is possible and very few items are downloadable in word format. The website is easy to navigate even without advanced navigational supports.

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The Center for Technology in Government
A research center to foster innovation in public services

The Center for Technology in Government (CTG) is an initiative of the University of Albany. It is an applied research center which aims at improving the way government works and developing information strategies that foster innovation and enhance the quality and coordination of public services. The Center receives funding through the University at Albany’s state budget, as well as through grants and awards from foundations and federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation. The Center’s website provides comprehensive information about the projects, publications, and programs they produce in the effort to improve government and public services through policy, management, and technology innovation. Projects depend on ongoing partnerships with government agencies, technology companies, nonprofit and international organizations. All the material – research reports, practical guides, working papers, journal articles and conference papers – is clearly commented and available full-text in pdf format. The Center also publishes an annual report which provides a snapshot of CTG’s yearly accomplishments. A monthly newsletter announces news about projects, publications, and upcoming events. The content material is being updated on an annual basis. All materials are retrievable for free and in a printer-friendly version.

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The Cook Political Report
A non-partisan online analysis of US electoral politics

The Cook Political Report is an independent, non-partisan website that analyzes US elections, campaigns and political trends. Founded in 1984 and moved online in 2004, the Report provides an always up-to-date overview on the US political landscape since 1998, figures of every publicly available poll, and on-going narrative analysis of electoral races also rating their level of competitiveness. Managed by Charlie Cook, long-time political analyst and journalist at the National Journal, the website provides also plenty of links pointing to major national media homepages, governmental sites and a variety of other political sites. The site is divided in a series of categories/sections (such as Senate, Gubernatorial, and Presidential races, etc.), but detailed info and data sections (mainly lists of candidates, compilations of all the related polling and in-depth analyses) are restricted to paying subscribers only. Some documents, mostly related to old electoral races or matters, can be freely downloaded in pdf format, and summaries of current postings and Cooks’ weekly column archives (back to 1998) can also be accessed for free. A simple structure and a well defined outline enables an easy navigation, with a sitemap and a keyword search option available. New items, such as notes and analyses about the US political landscape and the forthcoming elections, are freely downloadable.

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The Forum of Federations
An international network on federalism-related issues

Based in Ottawa, Canada, the Forum of Federations is a non-profit international network on federalism that brings together practitioners, scholars, and experts on the topics of federalism, federal systems and similar. It provides information and resources on the practice of federalism and provides policy and program assistance to governments in established and emerging federations. Its website presents a clear interface architecture and some interface pages are available in various languages. It gives access to a very large amount of material, from the center’s annual reports and publications to issues of topic-related journals, offered entirely free of charge and downloadable in several languages. For e-books and video material only, a payment is usually required and users are allowed to download for free only abstracts and tables of contents. In addition to research material, a large list of external connections to governmental institutions classified by country, as well as to partner organizations and institutions is available. News on internal activities are provided on a monthly basis and users can scan online news sources around the world every day. Its richness of contents notwithstanding, this website reaches a good level of usability thanks to its simple structure and some navigational facilities. An e-newsletter is also available.

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The Living Room Candidate
U.S. Presidential Campaign Commercials from 1952 to 2008

Managed by The American Museum of Moving Image, the Living Room Candidate is an innovative online exhibition of US presidential campaigns TV commercials, with more than 250 television political ads from every US election year beginning in 1952. Users can watch nearly four hours of TV commercials and explore the expanding world of web-based political advertising. The site includes a searchable database and features commentaries, historical background, election results, with navigation organized by both year and theme. Each commercial selected is accompanied by a list of related commercials in order to guide the viewer through the collection. The exhibition also features a sidebar section, “The Desktop Candidate”, about the growing role of the internet in presidential campaigns, as well as other TV appearances and speeches by recent US Presidents. Based on a simple, multimedia design, the Living Room Candidate provides video files for free and in various formats. A professionally-managed, content-rich resource for both the general public and teachers.

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The Political Communication Lab
A laboratory for studying political behaviour and public opinion

The Political Communication Lab is housed within the Institute for Communication Research, related to the Department of Communication at Stanford University. It was formed to develop and manage experimental studies of public opinion and political behavior through the use of both online and traditional methods. The Lab publishes on this website its experimental works, papers, teaching material, talks, samples readings, as well as a large multimedia collection of records from the latest US elections: issues positions, campaign ads, commercials, speeches, debates, interviews and media contents are available online. Each item is accessible in its original format (text, audio or video), sometimes also in Spanish, and no subscription or fee is required for access and downloading. Recent entries include a collection of 2008 Presidential campaign ads and a booklet titled “Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide”, available in a new edition. There are no navigational aids nor search option available, but nevertheless the website is easy to navigate thanks to a straightforward and pleasurable structure.

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The Society for Political Methodology
An APSA gateway for methodological studies

The Society for Political Methodology, the political methodology section of APSA, aims at providing info and research material to members with an interest in methodology, measurement and statistics. Its website offers opportunities to scholars and students to exchange ideas, share their researches, and serves as a gateway to an electronic papers archive. The archive includes articles and conference papers as well as free downloadable working papers on political methodology issues, mainly in pdf format, from 1995. Users can locate items easily through a keyword-based search engine or by browsing large sets of records in chronological or alphabetical order. This website also provides data sets from published and unpublished work. Information about the Society concerning staff, events, awards, mail addresses, as well as announcements about upcoming conferences in Political Science and other related disciplines are also available, along with a free newsletter and a free journal of the Society with articles on methodological issues. Free access is also provided to about all issues from 1999 of the political methodology section’s official journal, “Political Analysis”, and special pages collect individual courses syllabi oriented on political methodology and other closely related areas of interest. Navigation is extremely simple.

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The World Summit on the Information Society
A common vision of the Information Society

The UN General Assembly endorsed the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in two phases. The first phase took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland in December 2003 and the second phase in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, in November 2005, in cooperation with other interested United Nations Agencies. Aim of the Summit is to develop a common vision and understanding of the information society and to draw a strategic plan of action for concerted development. Themes of discussion include: building the infrastructure, opening the gates to universal access, services and applications, addressing the needs of users, developing an effective framework. Proceedings, reports and papers as well as factsheets and press releases (also in multimedia format) are offered for free to all users in their full-text versions. Also general documentation about UN policies on information society is available. The site also presents a text-only version and three mirror sites in other languages.

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