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Even in the 18th century, scholars realized it was not possible to know everything worth knowing; sometimes, we have to look it up. Fortunately for Dr. Johnson, he did not have to be familiar with so many sources and so many different techniques for finding information. He did, however, recognize the value of knowing where to find information. What today's Internet-enabled workers have discovered is that we also need to know how to search and how to evaluate what we find.
The book began as a set of materials for TheCapitol.Net's seminar, "Research Tools and Techniques for Analysts: Refining Your Online and Offline Research." It is designed to be used as a complement to that seminar or independently as a desk reference.
The first and second chapters cover practical principles of research and online searching, including the general search engines. These sections include checklists and advice that are applicable to many different research tasks and many different databases and search engines.
The third, fourth, and fifth chapters present resources for federal legislative, judicial, and executive branch research.
The sixth chapter covers starting points for state and international research on the web.
The final chapter, "Experts and Insiders," has tips for tapping into that vital Washington information resource: people.
In our knowledge economy, more and more people-with a wide range of education and experience-are moving into jobs that require some information-gathering skills. The research training provided at many schools lays a foundation, but often does not prepare us for the varied demands of the working world.
This book can help anyone involved in government research by increasing their information literacy, improving their research effectiveness and efficiency.
Each chapter has a chapter summary and review questions, making it easy to use in the classroom.
Summary of Contents
Table of Contents
Ch. 1 Before You Start Your Research
Ch. 2 Going Beyond Google
Ch. 3 Legislative Branch Research
Ch. 4 Judicial Branch Research
Ch. 5 Executive Branch Research
Ch. 6 State and International Research
Ch. 7 Experts and Insiders
Table of Web Sites
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Before You Start Your Research
1.0 Plan Your Research
1.1 Identify the Precise Question You Are Trying to Answer
1.2 Map Your Research Strategy
1.3 Be Aware of Copyright or Other Restrictions on Re-use
1.4 Have a Plan for Documenting Your Work and Research Results
1.10 Research Is a Process
1.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 2 Going Beyond Google
2.0 Know the Full Range of Information Sources
2.1 Major Search Engines
2.2 Limitations of General Search Engines
2.3 Handy Guides
2.10 Know How to Start from Scratch
2.11 Starting Points on the Web
2.12 Starting Points in Print
2.20 Know What You Are Searching
2.21 How Do You Learn about a Database's Content?
2.30 Know How to Search the Database
2.31 What Do You Need to Know before You Search?
2.33 Planning and Conducting an Online Search
2.34 Constructing a Search with Boolean Operators
2.35 Searching and Limiting When You Get Too Much
2.37 Example for Limiting When You Get Too Much
2.38 Learn from the Pros
2.40 Review Search Results Critically
2.41 Evaluating Information
2.42 Fact-Checking Resources
2.43 Evaluating a Web Site
2.44 Web Tools for Evaluating Web Sites
2.50 Stay Informed
2.51 Email Alert Services: A Selected Sample
2.52 Avoid Information Overload
2.53 Blogs: A Selected Sample
2.54 Selected RSS Readers
2.55 RSS News Feeds: A Selected Sample
2.56 Commercial Online Services
2.60 Remember, It's Not All Online
2.61 We Have So Many Records That
2.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 3 Legislative Branch Research
3.0 Legislative Process Flowchart
3.10 Quick Reference for Legislative Researchers
3.11 Types of Legislation
3.12 Continuing Resolutions
3.13 Major Versions of Legislation
3.14 Dates of Previous Congresses
3.15 Legislative Glossaries
3.20 Documents on THOMAS and GPO Access
3.21 GPO Access and the Federal Digital System
3.30 THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet
3.31 Thomas Home Page
3.32 Thomas Bills and Resolutions Search Page
3.40 Appropriations Legislation
3.41 Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees
3.42 Appropriations Conference Committee Reports
3.43 Limitations, Earmarks, and General Provisions
3.50 Monitoring Legislation: Alert Services
2.51 Recorded Congressional Information
3.60 From Bills to Laws: Documents and Information Resources
3.70 United States Code Titles
3.80 Additional Legislative Branch Sources
3.81 Congressional Research Service Reports
3.82 Lobbyist Registrations
3.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 4 Judicial Branch Research
4.0 Federal Court System Structure
4.10 Regional Federal Court Circuits-Geographic Coverage
4.20 Sources of Supreme Court Opinions Online
4.30 The Federal Courts: Selected Internet Resources
4.31 Low-Cost Legal Research Sources
4.40 Citing the Law
4.41 Citing Decisions at the Federal Level-Examples
4.50 Law Dictionaries
4.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 5 Executive Branch Research
5.0 Executive Branch Organization
5.11 USA.gov Home Page
5.12 Government Search Engines
5.20 Sources for Presidential and Other White House Documents
5.21 Presidential Documents on Government Web Sites
5.22 Presidential Documents on Nongovernment Web Sites
5.23 President's Budget Documents
5.24 Office of Management and Budget Documents
5.30 Agency Web Site Content
5.40 Federal Regulations
5.41 Federal Register
5.42 Overview of the Rulemaking Process
5.43 GPO FDsys: Federal Register
5.44 Code of Federal Regulations
5.45 GPO Access: Code of Federal Regulations
5.46 Code of Federal Regulations Titles
5.47 CFR Titles
5.48 Additional Regulatory Research Sources
5.50 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
5.51 Resources for Learning about and Using FOIA
5.60 Federal Regulatory Agencies: Filings Databases
5.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 6 State and International Research
6.0 State Government Information Resources
6.1 Search State Government Sites
6.2 State News and Statistics
6.3 Find State Government Information by Branch
6.4 State Legislative Branch Resources
6.5 State Executive Branch Resources
6.6 State Judicial Branch Resources
6.10 International Government Internet Resources
6.11 Web Directories
6.12 Country Information
6.13 World Legal Information
6.14 Global Search, News, and Statistics
6.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Chapter 7 Experts and Insiders
7.0 Offline Resources: People
7.1 When to Use People as an Information Source
7.2 Preparing to Make an Information-Gathering Phone Call
7.3 Making the Call
7.10 Washington Contacts: Phone and Email
7.12 Executive Departments and Agencies
7.13 Media Contacts
7.14 Selected Media Web Sites
7.15 Think Tanks
7.16 Trade and Professional Associations
7.20 Think Tanks Online
7.21 Finding Think Tanks Online
7.22 Selected Policy Institutes and Think Tanks
7.99 Chapter Summary and Review Questions
Table of Web Sites
PEGGY GARVIN is an independent information consultant. Her company, Garvin Information Consulting, provides training, writing, and consulting to help professionals make the best use of the wealth of U.S. government information online. Peggy has worked with government information, libraries, and information technology over her twenty-year-plus career with the Library of Congress Congressional Research Service and in the private sector. She earned her Master of Library Science degree from Syracuse University. Peggy contributes to TheCapitol.Net's Congressional Deskbook and edits the annual reference book e-Government and Web Directory: U.S. Federal Government Online (Lanham, MD: Bernan Press). Her column, "The Government Domain," appears in the law and technology webzine, LLRX.com. She also writes a government information column for the magazine Searcher (Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.).
- How to Find, Track, and Monitor Congressional Documents
- How to Research and Compile Legislative Histories
- Capitol Hill Workshop
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Writing to Persuade
- Understanding Congressional Budgeting and Appropriations
- Drafting Effective Federal Legislation and Amendments
Audio CD and Print Materials Online download with MP3 audio and materials in PDF Capitol Learning Audio Courses
Capitol Learning Audio Courses are a convenient way to learn about the legislative process, federal budgeting, media relations, business etiquette, and much more. Each course is between 1/2 hour and 2 hours long, and includes the course materials.
Our Capitol Learning Audio Courses can be customized with your logo in quantities of 250 to 10,000 copies. Contact our Client Liaison for details.
- Legislative Histories: Bills, Resolutions, Committee Hearings, and Committee Reports
- Advanced Online Research Skills, A Seven Course Series
- Legislative Histories: Statutory and Code Research
- Online Search Techniques: Faster Searching, Better Results
- Practical Web Research in a Nutshell
- Researching Legislative Histories
- Tracking and Monitoring Legislation
- and more
Also see these related publications:
By Peggy Garvin
Hardcover: 132 pages
ISBN 10: 158733156X
ISBN 13: 978-1-58733-156-5
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.5 x 0.55
Weight: 0.8 pounds
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Rave Reviews"It is a valuable tool for a wide variety of searchers interested in polishing their information gathering skills. Summing up: Recommended. All levels."
"While Real World Research Skills is a treasure trove of specific repositories and sites for information, of particular interest to me are the descriptions of the thought processes needed to obtain the information necessary for a research project. Also valuable is the discussion of the mindset needed when talking to an individual source, e.g., qualifying them as being a legitimate source, and making sure the researcher has a working knowledge of the issues so the source doesn't have to give a basic education. A valuable tool for high school and college students."
-- Davis Scott, Chicago, IL
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