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Government, Policy, & Legal   Tags: court, government, law, policy, statute  

Last Updated: Jun 25, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Don't know how to cite a court case?  Have no idea what "DEL CODE ANN. tit. 28, §1701 (Supp. 1990)" means?

Working with legal and government documents can be confusing.  These sources can help you navigate them.

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The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation
Call Number: Reference KF245 B58 2005
This is the essential guide for citation of legal and government materials. Includes tables for deciphering abbreviations.

Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age (4th ed.) - Hacker, Diana
Call Number: Reference Desk LB2369 .H33 2006
Diana Hacker's respected guide also has a handy online companion where you can quickly see citations and sample papers in APA, MLA, Chicago, and CSE styles.


Writing Tools

Annotated Bibliographies
See Purdue's excellent guide to creating annotated bibliographies: lists of scholarly sources with brief descriptions.

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Writing Literature Reviews - Galvan, Jose L.
Call Number: Reference H61.8 .G3 2006


These databases can not only provide you with articles and essays on important topics in policy, law, and legal aspects. They can also give you access to news, government resources, and research tools such as law reviews.

  • Political Science Complete
    This is an excellent place for researching the laws, legislation and the politics of public policy.
  • Academic Search Premier
    An all-purpose database that contains thousands of full-text articles on all subjects. It's a good place to look for just about any topic.
  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context
    Provides "pro-con" treatment of hot topics such as cloning, poverty, and global warming. Each essay includes references to books and articles for further reading.
    Academic journals, general business magazines, professional journals, trade journals, and full-text Wall Street Journal articles. Includes articles on economic and business policy, including health care.
  • LexisNexis
    The authoritative database for government and legal research. Look here for news, scholarly law review articles, court cases, patents, transcripts and more. The interface can be challenging, so check out the tutorials or ask a librarian for help.
  • CQ Researcher
    Provides lengthy essays on current events and issues such as online privacy. Articles include background information, timelines, links to related essays, and detailed bibliographies. A great place to go to get a thorough overview of complex topics.
  • Sociological Abstracts
    Find sociological research on policy issues, including social welfare, substance abuse, health, and more.
  • Films on Demand
    Streaming videos you can watch anywhere. Search for policy topics or browse the categories for topics like American Government for videos on poverty, abortion, etc.
  • Find It!
    No full text? Click "Find It" by the article to get it elsewhere, or to order it (learn more).

Web Resources

    "The U.S. Government's Official Web Portal," this site can direct you to government information on just about any topic. Browse the categories (e.g., "Jobs and Education" or
    Health and Nutrition") or use the search box at the top of the page. There is also a handy A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.
  • National Atlas
    A great site for government maps of all kinds. Look here for maps of environmental, population, transportation and other kinds of data. Produced by the Department of the Interior.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States
    Published by the Census Bureau, the Statistical Abstract is a great first place to look for government-produced statistics of any kind on any subject.
  • American FactFinder
    Another site by the U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder is a tool for finding data on populations (by categories such as "age and sex", "education", etc.), housing (physical and financial characteristics), and economic data. You can easily get an easy-to-read "Fact Sheet" of information on any community in the country.


Whatever your topic, our collection probably has something that can help you.  Try adding terms like law, policy, legislation, government, etc. to words associated with your topic.  Here are some examples of things you can search for:

  • Economic Policy
  • Judicial Review
  • Medical Laws and Legislation

If your first search brings up too many irrelevant items, try using the Refine by Topic suggestions in the box on the left of the search results screen.

We have a well-stocked reference section that can be useful for overviews, data, and research help.  Here are some examples of what you might find:

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United States Government Manual
Call Number: JK421 .A3 2008-2009
The Manual is the essential guide to the Federal Government, with contacts and information for every department and agency. Use the online version for the most up-to-date information. Use it online!

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Statistical Abstract of the United States
Call Number: Reference Desk HA202 2009
Published by the Census Bureau, the Statistical Abstract is a great first place to look for government-produced statistics of any kind on any subject. Look online for the latest edition. Use it online!

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Encyclopedia of Law & Society: American and Global Perspectives - David S. Clark, editor
Call Number: K583 .E53 2007 v.1-3
An excellent source for background information on topics ranging from child abuse to economics of contracts to welfare. Entries are well-organized and easy to read, and each has suggestions for further reading. See the Reader's Guide at the beginning of volume one to see articles listed by theme.

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Encyclopedia of Governance - Mark Bevir, editor
Call Number: Reference JC11 .E53 2007
A reference source that covers topics in governance worldwide. See the "Reader's Guide", where the entries are organized by subjects such as Capitalism, Citizenship, Policy Analysis, Trade and more.

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Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age: How to Locate and Evaluate Information Sources - Leslie F. Stebbins
Call Number: Reference ZA3075 .S74 2006
See chapters six and seven for help with legal research and government documents. Learn how to find and evaluate case law, court cases, federal agency documents, statistics, etc.

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Encyclopedia of the United Nations - John Allphin Moore, Jr., Jerry Pubantz
Call Number: Reference KZ4968 .M66 2008
A useful guide to the UN. Includes entries on international law and policy concerns.

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Datapedia of the United States: American History in Numbers - edited by George Thomas Kurian and Barbara A. Chernow
Call Number: Reference HA202 .K87 2007
An extensive collection of historical data on the United States. Sections include Demographics, Environment, Health, Education, Politics, and more.

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The Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009 - written, compiled, and edited by Sarah Burd-Sharps, Kristen Lewis, and Eduardo Borges Martins
Call Number: Reference HN59.2 .B865 2008
Here you'll find data and helpful interpretation on how the various states rank in health, education, and living standards.

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Statistical Yearbook - United Nations, Statistical Division
Call Number: Reference HA12.5 .U63 2007
A compilation of U.N. data on all sorts of topics, from Education to Energy. You can access a free pdf of the latest issue online.

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A Statistical Portrait of the United States: Social Conditions and Trends - edited by Patricia C. Becker
Call Number: Reference HA214 .S84 2002
This book is unique for the extensive text that accompanies its charts and tables. Although you won't find as many statistics here as you would with other books, you'll get detailed explanations and background information to help you interpret the data.


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Created by Matt Voss in Fall 2009.


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