Urban & Regional Planning: Best Practices

Best Practices Research

Being a profession of practice, it is important for planners to find and use evidence-based best practices. However, best practices research is frequently not published in journal articles, but can rather be found in technical reports, case studies, and more. As such, it can take some sleuthing to find this kind of literature. Below are some tips that may help you discover best practices literature. 

Tips for Best Practices Research

Tip 1: Use appropriate keywords

Search the library catalog for books by combining keywords for your topic and publication format keywords. These searches will retrieve relevant book chapters as well as book titles. In these searches be sure to select the "PSU & Summit Libraries" search scope.

Search strategy example: city planning AND bicycle AND case study

Publication format keywords you might consider:

  • case study
  • best practice
  • report
  • guide
  • manual
  • handbook

These keywords will also help you if you choose to search the journal literature for best practices.

Tip 2: Think bureaucratically

Approach your question for best practices from a bureaucratic/organizational perspective. What government agency or organization would care about best practices related to your topic? What agency or organization has political or social capital related to your topic? What agency or organization may have conducted research or projects related to your topic?

Tip 3: Look for grey literature

Screenshot of Google Advanced Search

Look for non-traditionally published works such as white papers from government websites, development groups, community, and non-profit organizations. Sometimes using Google Advanced Search options (get there by clicking on "settings" from the lower right hand side of the Google home page) will help you to search for reports or publications hosted on an organization's website. 

Tip 4: Use the right tool for the job

Approach your research using tools that collect and index case studies and grey literature. Also look for books and book chapters that are more likely to contain best practices research. Use the databases listed below, browse through the useful books on this page, and also consider looking at Reference Works that may contain best practices or cite best practices.


Useful Books