Why use government information in your research?
The United States government is one of the largest publishers in the world. It produces a vast amount of information on a multitude of subjects from astronomy to zoology in formats as diverse as print materials, online materials, microform, video cassettes and more. Whatever your topic, the chances are good the government has produced something on it. Government information is considered authoritative and accurate, unlike some material found on the Internet. Census data, congressional hearings, Department of Education journals, tax information and court decisions are just some examples of items that might prove useful in your research. For example, if you are doing research on a health related topic MedlinePlus might be a great place to start, as their database contains thousands of research related articles from both the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Also, the government collects statistics on just about everything and is a wonderful resource for getting statistical information to support your research. In addition, you have already paid for government information through your tax dollars so make use of it! Generally speaking, most government information is copyright free and can make a great addition to supplement other classroom materials.
How do I get access to this information?
Government information sources can be accessed in different ways depending on format and location. Many materials, such as ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) documents, can be found in the UMUC databases and on federal government Web sites such as GPO Access. Others are found only in print or other formats such as microform in Federal Depository Libraries. The McKeldin library at the University of Maryland College Park is the Regional Federal Depository library for Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia and as such receives all materials published by the Government Printing Office. Increasingly, the trend is to produce more and more materials electronically; however, some materials, such as maps, will still be available in print formats.
Take the Tutorial:
Take the tutorial (click next, below, or pick a module from the left sidebar) to sharpen your skills in finding government information and when you are finished take the quiz to see how much you have learned. A subject guide of government Web sites is also provided to help you locate information on specific topics.