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University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Gateway to Media

A guide to resources that are especially helpful to students in the SOJC's Gateway to Media series of classes.

Finding Government Documents

The University of Oregon Libraries have many publications from the governments of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the State of Oregon, and cities and counties in Oregon, as well as official records of international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union. In addition, a vast amount of government information is available on the Internet, either directly from government agency web sites or through commercial databases to which the library subscribes.

Here are some suggested approaches to locating government publications on your topic:

  • If you're not sure where to start, the Government Information guide has various government resources organized by government level and topic, including potential sources for data and statistical information.
  • To find government documents relating to your topic, you can also use Google Advanced Search. Enter your topic's keywords. Then, narrow your search by using the Site or Domain box and typing "" for state docs or ".gov" for federal docs.
  • For U.S. (federal) documents, try It has a keyword search box at the top of the page and is a good source for access to online documents.
  • is a good source for tracking current or historical congressional legislation.
  • FedSys is your entry to the publications of the U.S Government Printing Office.
  • The federal government is an unparalleled source of statistics on almost every American (and often international) issue.
  • The Documents Department has librarians who are specialists in government information. You may ask for them at the Computer Help desk, or use their e-mail reference service.
  • To find government documents available physically or digitally through the UO Libraries, use LibrarySearch. Search for your topic, then select "Government Documents" as the Material Type to refine the results.

Finding Institutional Sources

Institutional sources are publications issued by institutions or associations. These organizations are often formed by the members of a profession (e.g. the American Medical Association), people with a common interest (e.g. the National Rifle Association), or people whose job it is to do research and issue position papers on matters of public policy (e.g. the Cato Institute). Their publications include such forms as a position statement on an issue (often found on the institution's Web site), a research report, or even a periodical.

Here are some suggested approaches to locating institutional sources:

  • Search for institutional Web sites on your topic. These often contain the organization's position statement on a particular issue. Use Google's Advanced Search engine, and enter appropriate keywords. Then, narrow your search. Within the Site or Domain box, type .org.
  • The Pew Research Center is an excellent, nonpartisan fact tank that conducts research on a number of issues and trends in the United States.
  • The American Policy Directory (compiled by the UO Libraries' Document Center) provides convenient links to institutions by subject.
  • The Oregon Policy Directory lists local, state, and regional organizations that work on all areas of public policy in Oregon and from all points of view.
  • CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online offers fulltext access to the papers of over 90 institutions, with keyword searching available.
  • Lobbyists of associations or institutions often testify at Congressional hearings on public policy matters. ProQuest Congressional provides indexing of these hearings, from which a list of institutional representatives can be obtained.
  • Another good method for finding institutional sources is to look again at the articles from general interest periodicals or academic journals that you have already found. Notice if any of them quote from authorities or spokespersons on the subject. For example, an article in Time on health issues with cell phones might quote from a representative of the National Safety Council. You could then contact the NSC or try their Web site to obtain a statement on that topic.

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Journalism, Communication and Digital Literacy Librarian

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Talia Paz