Progress Report of the Committee on Political Research:

Charles Merriam

In accordance with a resolution passed by the Executive Council of the American Political Science Association at its December meeting of 1921, a committee on political research was appointed by President Dunning. The membership of the committee was as follows: Charles E. Merriam of the University of Chicago, chairman; Robert T. Crane of the University of Michigan, John A. Fairlie of the University of Illinois, and Clyde L. King of the University of Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the committee was to scrutinize the scope and method of political research in the field of government, with a view to obtaining a clearer view of the actual situation and of offering certain constructive suggestions.

The committee held four meetings, one at Pittsburgh in connection with the annual meeting of the Association, one at Cleveland at the time of the Government Research Conference, and two at Chicago. In addition to this a number of conferences were held by the chairman with individual members of the committee.

The committee decided to make the principal part of its work for the first year a survey of the existing research agencies and methods. With this in view, the following fields were assigned to the various members of the committee :

A survey of recent advances in political methods.

A survey of the work of government research bodies.

A survey of legislative and municipal reference agencies.

A survey of research and equipment in universities and colleges. A survey of the research carried on by social and industrial agencies bordering on the field of government.

It was not found feasible to print the entire report made on these various subjects, but a summary of them is presented herewith.[1]

The committee also considered various ways and means by which the quality and quantity of political research might be improved, and

( 275) the general findings and conclusions thus far reached are also presented here.

It is, of course, understood that this report is only preliminary and tentative — the result of the partial exploration of a very small part of a very large field.

By action of the Council at its last session, the research committee has been made a standing committee of the American Political Science Association and Will accordingly continue its work during the present year.


  1. The portion dealing with social and industrial research was unavoidably delayed, and is not printed with this summary report.

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