JR: What are your basic research rules for students? Eric Ferkenhoff: Number one out of the gates is: If you think you have a story, first do a Lexis-Nexis, Factiva and Google News search. Make it a habit. Every story has been done, but it’s about finding the new angle or perspective. I then ask students to look through Google Scholar, Journalist’s Resource — scholarly sources and other databases – to see if their angle is truly new. And if it’s not new, I emphasize that, although it doesn’t kill story, they must then look for paragraphs and passages in articles and studies that hint at some other aspect of the issue that needs to be explored further. JR: You mentioned Journalist’s Resource earlier. How do you use it? Eric Ferkenhoff: It’s been a very timely resource for me. I’ve been working on some projects relating to poverty that are using Census-type data, as well as juvenile justice and education information. It just seems that every time that I’m working on a project, you folks will come out with a compilation of studies and an analysis of studies that are right up the alley of work that I’m doing and teaching. It’s almost freaky how timely it is. I’ll be looking for a particular type of research for my students, and I’ll get the Journalist’s Resource email. And I’ll say, “Well, that was easy!” You cover a wide range and an important range of issues. The classes that I teach draw on a lot of different aspects of government policy. These studies help us immensely in terms of background research and pointing us in the direction of data. I forward the entire email or I’ll take the individual URL and send my class to the site for the studies.

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