The Rand Corporation emerged after World War II as a non-profit think tank which focused on providing high quality, objective research on national security. In the 1960's Rand began addressing problems of domestic policy as well. Its current aim is to help policymakers "strengthen the nation's economy, maintain its security, and improve its quality of life by helping them make choices in education, health care, national defense, and criminal and civil justice, among many areas." Another stated goal is to serve the public interest by widely disseminating research findings to the public. This well-designed site is certainly a step in the right direction, offering easy, logical access to electronic documents, reports, books, issue papers, briefs, press releases, and mountains of research which has long been available, though buried, in many university libraries.
There are numerous methods of obtaining information from this site. The home page sports a modest but attractive image map of choices, but also provides access to a non-image based index. The Research Areas selection gives an overview of the organization's research and programs. The broad scope of the disciplines involved in research include the behavioral sciences, economics and statistics, health, education, and welfare, information sciences, international studies, management sciences, and technology and applied sciences. The organizational units carrying out the research include the Army Research Division, Criminal Justice Program, Health Sciences Program, Institute for Civil Justice, Institute for Education and Training, Labor and Population Program, National Security Division, and more. From this page you can also connect to various Rand publications and research reports or find out how to get them.
The subject area bibliographies, available here or through the Publications selection on the home page, are particularly useful. There are over 50 categories such as arms control, environment, Latin America, narcotics control, space technology and planning, urban studies, and more. Each bibliography can list a hundred subcategories each of which yields several citations to reports, including abstracts, related documents, those elusive Rand Publication numbers, and information for purchasing reports.
The Hot Topics selection from the home page delivers research briefs which are policy-oriented summaries of individual publications and include useful graphs. Press releases are also available here. In the Publications area, one gets a sense of the full array of documents available both full text and in citation format, available electronically or in print.
Finally, if you would rather search the database by keyword there are two options from the home page. Search the whole server for full text documents or search the abstracts of Rand documents. In either case, you get a sophisticated search engine which yields good searching results.
Rand strives to conduct objective, high quality research, investigating perspectives not always considered elsewhere. It would be useful for students and scholars as well as the policy makers it is intended to serve. This site is also a model for information retrieval via the Web. For these two reasons alone, this site is worth the visit.
Reference and Systems Librarian
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