The 2015 Public Policy Yearbook:
Tracking Research in Public Policy

Sarah Trousset, University of Oklahoma
Hank Jenkins-Smith, University of Oklahoma
Nina Carlson, University of Oklahoma
Christopher Weible, University of Colorado-Denver

Public Policy Yearbook Editors

This supplemental issue marks the seventh edition of the Policy Studies Journal’s Public Policy Yearbook. This issue includes retrospective review articles summarizing recent developments in public policy research in three focus areas: education policy; energy and natural resource policy; and urban public policy. In addition, you can find the main content of the 2015 Yearbook online at: By visiting the Yearbook’s website, users can utilize a free web-based interface to easily search for various policy scholars’ contact information, as well as up-to-date summaries describing listed scholars’ self-reported descriptions of current and future research ideas and projects. In this introduction we provide a brief description of the Yearbook, and then present a snapshot of current developments in public policy research. In the 2014 introductory article (Trousset, Jenkins-Smith & Weible 2014), we presented a detailed description of the functionality of the Yearbook website, as well as a comparative look at developments in public policy research over the last six years. Rather than duplicate that discussion, this year we focus our discussion on the progress of the Yearbook’s published, peer-reviewed retrospective review articles. In the third section, we introduce the new articles to be published within this supplemental issue of the Policy Studies Journal, and provide an overview of the complete collection of retrospective review articles dating back to the launch of the series in 2011.

Background on the Public Policy Yearbook

The Public Policy Yearbook is an international listing of experts in various public policy domains, working on public policy problems all over the globe. Each year, we collect information from public policy scholars about their fields of study, research focus areas, published works and contact information.1 This information is then published as part of a directory of individual profiles on the Yearbook’s website. The multidisciplinary nature of public policy research can make it challenging to identify the experts studying various policy problems, and the Yearbook provides users with an easier way to do so. Our intent is to provide a convenient tool for policy scholars to increase and broaden the visibility of their work, as well as to provide a means to network with other scholars. By using the website, readers can search for an expert through a range of search criteria options, which include: a scholar’s first or last name, geographic location, institution, or primary research interests (see Figure 1 for an example of a scholar’s profile).

Figure 1. An example of a scholar’s profile. The amount of detail presented in the profile depends upon what the individual scholar chooses to provide.

For those unfamiliar with the Yearbook, the first edition was released in 2009 as a printed, standalone issue of the Policy Studies Journal, followed by the release of an interactive, searchable website in 2011. We also use the content of the Yearbook to develop indicators for scholars’ evolving research agendas. The developments and trends we identify are only representative of the sample of Yearbook participants. However, despite a more than doubling of the membership in the last seven years, the content of the Yearbook has evidenced only modest changes in scholarly focus areas (see Figure 2). We will describe these patterns of scholarly focus in greater detail in the next section. You can find a more detailed description of the Yearbook by visiting:, or by reading previous editorial articles published at the beginning of the Yearbook’s annual supplemental issue of the PSJ (Jenkins-Smith & Trousset 2010, 2011; Jenkins-Smith, Trousset, & Weible 2012, 2013, 2014). We also invite you to visit the website for further exploration (

Figure 2. Growth in Yearbook Membership since 2010.

Characteristics of Yearbook Participants and New Developments in Policy Scholarship

As we do each year, in Fall 2014 we reached out to the Yearbook’s current listing of policy scholars, asking each member to update the information published on his or her profile.2 This annual updating process allows us as to verify the accuracy of listed scholars’ contact information and to encourage members to list recently published articles and/or research in progress. As is evident in Figure 3, our most recent update shows that the Yearbook continues to represent a broad cross-section of policy scholars from around the world; the 2015 Yearbook has 839 members, residing in 47 different countries. This is a 9 percent increase from our 2014 membership, and is more than double our 2010 membership (340 members). In order for the Yearbook to continue to be the most broadly representative source available for information on current policy scholars and practitioners, we are continuing to reach out to practicing scholars, graduate students, post-docs, research scientists, and practitioners in public policy. Thus, we appreciate your time and effort taken to update your profile.

Figure 3. The Yearbook’s geographic representation spans 47 different countries.

As we have mentioned in past issues of the Yearbook, the self-reported content of scholars’ profiles provides insight into the developments in policy scholarship through the use of several descriptive indicators that summarize and characterize scholars’ evolving research agendas. These indicators include scholars’ self-reported descriptions of their “current and future research expectations,” as well as scholars’ self-identification across 18 theoretical and substantive focus subfields of public policy.3 Below, we review some of the developments evident in the 2015 collection.

First, Yearbook scholars are asked to provide a paragraph describing their current and ongoing research agendas. When writing this paragraph, scholars may be as brief or as detailed as they choose. Figure 4 provides a snapshot of three sample entries from the summaries of Drs. Hank Jenkins-Smith, Chris Weible, and Deven Carlson (top to bottom).

Figure 4. Selected examples of scholars’ “Current and Future Research Expectations” sections in the Yearbook.

By scanning the content in the 2015 current research summary paragraphs, we can illustrate current trends among scholars’ work by creating a word cloud populated by frequently used terms (see Figure 5). The word cloud provides a graphical representation of the aggregate foci of scholars’ substantive and theoretical work, and provides us with a comparative perspective of the evolution of research agendas. Figure 5 presents the 100 terms that appeared most frequently in the “Current and Future Research Expectations” section of scholars’ profiles. In 2015, the prominent research interests, characterized by the ten most frequently appearing terms, continue to be in the following areas: public policies; politics; environmental, health, and social issues; science; education and university issues; and governance and management. When comparing this word cloud with those from the past 5 years (Jenkins-Smith & Trousset 2010, 2011; Jenkins-Smith, Trousset, & Weible 2012, 2013, 2014), it appears that the proportion of research trends among Yearbook members has remained stable over time.

Figure 5. The relative size of each term denotes the frequency with which key terms appear in scholars’ listing of their “Current and Future Research Expectations”.

These trends are also consistent with Yearbook members’ self-identifications in the Yearbook’s listed public policy focus areas. When scholars are asked to update the information listed on their profiles, they are presented with a list of 18 categories that represent a broad spectrum of subfields in public policy scholarship. They are first asked to check as many of the categories that they choose to describe their research agendas. In addition, for the last two years, we asked scholars to indicate which category best describes their primary theoretical focus area and which best describes their primary substantive focus area. The five theoretical focus areas include: agenda-setting, adoption and implementation; policy analysis; policy history; policy process theory; and public opinion. The thirteen substantive focus areas include: comparative public policy; defense and security policy; economic policy; education policy; energy and natural resource policy; environmental policy; governance; health policy; international relations and policy; law and policy; science and technology policy; social policy; and urban public policy.

Figure 6. Scholars’ primary theoretical focus area

Figures 6 & 7 show the proportion of scholars indicating one of the theoretical and substantive specializations as their primary focus area. As shown in Figure 6, the most prominent theoretical focus area was policy analysis and evaluation. The second and third most common areas were policy process theory and agenda-setting, adoption and implementation. Despite seeing a general increase from 2014 to 2015 in all categories, it seems that the most prominent categories continue to be policy analysis and evaluation and policy process theory. As shown in Figure 7, across the substantive focus areas, the largest proportion of scholars study issues in governance, environmental policy, and social policy. These were also the most prominent categories in 2014. However, in 2015, although there was a proportionate increase in most focus areas, scholars identifying health policy as their primary focus area represents a smaller proportion of the Yearbook community than in 2014.

Figure 7. Scholars’ primary substantive focus area

Public Policy Research Retrospective Review Articles

A second major component of the Public Policy Yearbook is the publication of retrospective review articles. These review articles offer readers quick access to recent developments in the field, because they can provide both a basic introduction and a coherent current perspective on the field to emerging scholars interested in understanding various policy problems. To write these review articles, each year we solicit recommendations for advanced graduate students working under the guidance of leading public policy scholars. This year, as part of this supplemental issue of the Policy Studies Journal, we are including a second iteration review article on the topic of research in education policy. In addition, we are also including articles in two focus areas that have only recently (2014) been added to the Yearbook’s listed categories of policy subfields: energy and natural resource policy and urban public policy. These articles contain key developments in the following:

  • Education Policy: Sarah Galey reviews current research on K-12 education policy in the United States. In her review, Galey discusses recent research evaluating the impact of reform policies on accountability and teacher evaluation, market-based reforms, educational research utilization, and local and state capacity building. This article provides a complement to the first Yearbook retrospective review article on education policy, in which Conner & Rabovsky (2011) focused on higher education policy.
  • Energy & Natural Resource Policy: In the Yearbook’s first published review article on Energy and Natural Resource policy, John Kester, Rachael Moyer, and Dr. Geoboo Song discuss policy issues such as agenda setting, policy diffusion and policy evaluation concerning nuclear energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and hydraulic fracturing operations.
  • Urban Public Policy: The third review article is written by Aaron Deslatte. Deslatte summarizes recent research on issues of governance in urban politics and policy topics such as income, housing, racial/ethnic stratification, and sustainability. His review also highlights attention to recent questions regarding citizen participation, urban renewal and equality.

With the addition of three new review articles in this 2015 supplemental issue, the Yearbook has now published a total of 23 review articles on topics spanning 19 different theoretical and substantive focus areas (see Table 1 below). We aim to cycle review articles within each substantive area listed in the Yearbook approximately every 3 years. In five of the policy research areas categorized in the Yearbook, we have now cycled two articles, written 3 years apart: policy process theories (Nowlin 2011, Petridou 2014); policy analysis (Carlson 2011; Blume, Scott, & Pirog 2014); agenda setting (Pump 2011; Eissler, Russell & Jones 2014); public opinion and public policy (Mullinex 2011; Bachner & Hill 2014) and education policy (Conner & Rabovsky 2011; Galloway 2015).

Table 1. Google Scholar Citation Count for Yearbook Review Articles

As shown in Table 1, the Google Scholar citation counts make evident that the Yearbook’s retrospective review articles are gaining some attention among policy scholars. As is to be expected, articles with the highest number of citations were generally published between 2011-2012, and more recently published articles had lower citation counts. The five articles that were most prominently cited include: Nowlin’s (2011) review on policy process theories; Conner & Rabovsky’s (2011) review on education policy; Robichau’s (2011) review on Governance; Pump’s (2011) review on agenda-setting; and Niles & Lubell’s (2012) review article on environmental policy. These research focus areas also happen to be the areas most commonly mentioned in the current summaries and future expectations paragraphs discussed in the second section above (see Figure 5). We hope that scholars continue to utilize these review articles as a quick way to update themselves on the current state of research within specific focus areas. We invite you to read previously published review articles, which can be found on the Yearbook’s website or within previous volumes of the PSJ. We also encourage you to recommend outstanding graduate students to author future iterations of retrospective reviews.

Final Remarks

Our goal is to make the Yearbook a convenient and accessible tool for scholars, practitioners, students, or laypersons to find the right scholars, articles and networks working on a the full range of public policy questions. The Yearbook is intended to be a continuously updated resource for networking and collaboration amongst scholars, as well a no-cost platform for scholars to publicize their research accomplishments and active projects. In the future, we also plan to focus greater attention on ways to maximize the use of the Yearbook as a web-based tool for the classroom. The Yearbook is a valuable resource for students of public policy and public management to dig deeper into policy questions and to easily access the current state of research in their policy domain of interest.

If you are interested in updating an existing profile or if you are not currently listed but are interested in becoming a member of the Yearbook, we have made several improvements to our system to ease the process of creating a profile. Scholars can access their profiles at any time and make direct changes to their listings. Users can select from two different updating options by visiting the Yearbook website at:

The first option is for scholars who already have a listed profile. On the webpage listed above, under the tab “Current Members,” scholars can submit the email address they currently have on file with the Yearbook. Our system will then immediately send a personalized link via email that the scholar can use to access their current profile information. By visiting that personalized link, scholars can submit changes to their profile listings and these changes will be updated on the Yearbook website immediately.

The second option is for policy scholars who do not yet have a listed profile, but who would like to become a member of the Yearbook. Scholars can list their profile at no charge. By visiting the provided webpage listed above, scholars can click the tab that is labeled “Submit Your Information,” or can go directly to our easy-to-use form at: Once scholars submit their profile information, our system will await approval by an editor to list that profile on the website. This initial approval is necessary to avoid publishing “spam”. Once that initial profile has been approved, scholars can go back in and edit their profiles immediately, as described in the previous paragraph. If you have any questions about this process, we welcome you to contact us at:

Although scholars are able to access their profiles at any time and make direct changes to their listings, we will continue running an annual fall recruitment and updating campaign. In the annual fall campaign we send invitations to both current and potential new policy scholars to update their entries in the Yearbook. We do this to ensure that the Yearbook content stays as up-to-date as possible. We will continue our efforts to include faculty from public policy and public management schools and departments across the globe, as well as reaching out to graduate students, post-docs, and practitioners in public policy that make up the next generation of leaders in public policy research and analysis. We ask that current members assist in this effort by forwarding our invitations to affiliate policy scholars, practitioners, and graduate students.

Finally, the production and operation of the Yearbook could not have been accomplished without the help of many hands. We would like to recognize Matthew Henderson for the design and implementation of the online website, web-tools, and data graphics. In addition, we thank Hayley Scott for her help in editing Yearbook entries and review articles. Additionally, we are thankful for the support and help we receive from several individuals at the Policy Studies Organization and Wiley- Blackwell. Finally, we would like to thank Dr. Paul Rich, President of the Policy Studies Organization, for his financial support and encouragement for the Yearbook.

We hope that you will find the Yearbook to be a valuable resource in your work on public policy and hope you will continue to submit updates to your entries in the future.

Sarah Trousset
Hank C. Jenkins-Smith
Nina Carlson
Chris Weible
Yearbook Editors

1 Yearbook membership is free of charge and open to all policy scholars and practitioners worldwide. Since the Yearbook’s inception in 2009, we have sought to broaden the participation of public policy scholars across disciplines, organizations, and nations. The challenge is that, given the nature of public policy research, the domain of public policy scholars and practitioners is highly varied. Public policy research is multidisciplinary in nature, and policy scholars and practitioners inhabit a wide range of institutional settings (universities, governmental agencies, research labs, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and many others). Initially our invitations were sent to the listed members of the Public Policy Section of the American Political Science Association, as well as members of the Policy Studies Organization. We worked with editors of public policy journals to reach policy scholars globally. More recently we sent electronic and printed invitations to public policy and public administration departments across the United States and Europe, asking each department to forward the invitation to their public policy faculty members, graduate students, and affiliates. Lastly, our online member updating system allows for current and new members to offer contact information for colleagues and graduate students who should be included. We are currently seeking to expand the scope of invitations to include major practitioner and scholarly organizations focused on public policy, such as the Association for Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM). In all cases, we undertake an active recruitment and update effort in the fall of each year to be sure our content is up to date and as broadly inclusive as possible.

2 Although we undertake a systematic recruitment effort once a year, it is important to note that scholars can update their profiles or join the Yearbook at any time. The website allows scholars to easily access their profiles by submitting their email address on the website profile management portal. The Yearbook’s website also allows for new members to join, at no cost, through the use of a short online form. This process is described in greater detail in Section 1 of this introductory article.

3 When updating their profiles, scholars are asked to check off as many categories as are applicable to describe their research agendas.

Works Cited

  • Bachner, Jennifer, and Kathy Wagner Hill. 2014. “Advances in Public Opinion and Policy Attitudes Research.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1):51-70.
  • Blume, Grant, Tyler Scott, and Maureen Pirog. 2014. “Empirical Innovations in Policy Analysis.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1): 33-50.
  • Carlson, Deven. 2011. “Trends and Innovations in Public Policy Analysis.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1):13-26.
  • Conner, Thaddieus W., and Thomas M. Rabovsky. 2011. “Accountability, Affordability, Access: A Review of the Recent Trends in Higher Education Policy Research.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 93-112.
  • deLeon, Peter, and B. Kathleen Gallagher. 2011. “A Contemporary Reading of Advice and Consent.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 27-39.
  • Eissler, Rebecca, Annelise Russell, and Bryan D. Jones. 2014. “New Avenues for the Study of Agenda Setting.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1): 71-86.
  • Gupta, Kuhika. 2012. “Comparative Public Policy: Using the Comparative Method to Advance Our Understanding of the Policy Process.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (s1): 11-26.
  • Guzman, Tatyana, Maureen A. Pirog, and Kristin Seefeldt. 2013. “Social Policy: What Have We Learned?” Policy Studies Journal 41 (s1): 53-70.
  • Haeder, Simon F. 2012. “Beyond Path Dependence: Explaining Healthcare Reform and Its Consequences.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (s1): 65-86.
  • Jenkins-Smith, Hank C., and Sarah Trousset. 2010. “2010 Public Policy Yearbook.” Policy Studies Journal 38 (s1): xi-xiii.
  • Jenkins-Smith, Hank C., and Sarah Trousset. 2011. “2011 Public Policy Yearbook.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): vii-xiii.
  • Jenkins, Smith, Hank C., Sarah Trousset, and Chris Weible. 2012. “2012 Public Policy Yearbook: Evolving Scholarship in Public Policy.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (s1): 1-9.
  • Jenkins, Smith, Hank C., Sarah Trousset, and Chris Weible. 2013. “2013 Public Policy Yearbook: Evolving Scholarship in Public Policy.” Policy Studies Journal 41 (s1): 1-10.
  • Kreis, Anthony Michael, and Robert K. Christensen. 2013. “Law and Public Policy.” Policy Studies Journal 41 (s1): 38-52.
  • Mullinix, Kevin J. 2011. “Lingering Debates and Innovative Advances: The State of Public Opinion Research.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1):61-76.
  • Niles, Meredith T., and Mark Lubell. “Integrative Frontiers in Environmental Policy Theory and Research.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (s1): 41-64.
  • Nowlin, Matthew C. “Theories of the Policy Process: State of the Research and Emerging Trends.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 41-60.
  • Petridou, Evangelia. 2014. “Theories of the Policy Process: Contemporary Scholarship and Future Directions.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1): 12-32.
  • Pump, Barry. 2011. “Beyond Metaphors: New Research on Agendas in the Policy Process.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 1-12.
  • Pump, Barry. 2012. “A New Normal? American Economic Policymaking After The Great Recession.” Policy Studies Journal 40 (s1): 27-40.
  • Redd, Steven B., and Alex Mintz. 2013. “Policy Perspectives on National Security and Foreign Policy Decision-Making.” Policy Studies Journal 41 (s1): 11-37.
  • Ripberger, Joseph T. 2011. “Whither Civil Defense and Homeland Security in the Study of Public Policy? A Look at Research on the Policy, the Public, and the Process.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 77-91.
  • Robichau, Robbie. 2011. “The Mosaic of Governance: Creating a Picture with Definitions, Theories, and Debates.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (s1): 113-131.
  • Trousset, Sarah. 2014. “Current Trends in Science and Technology Policy Research: An Examination of Published Works from 2010-2012.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1): 87-117.
  • Trousset, Sarah, Hank C. Jenkins-Smith, and Chris Weible. 2014. “2014 Public Policy Yearbook: Recent Developments in Public Policy Research.” Policy Studies Journal 42 (s1): 1-11.