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English 301 - Spring, 2024 - Prof. Coleman

A different kind of government document...


Government publications (or government documents) are great sources for scholarly work*. The US government publishes all sorts of things, from congressional hearings, to agency reports - even comic books!

There are government publications at all levels of government for all kinds of topics - the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities 

*Actually, all kinds of work. There may be times in your working or volunteer life where you might need to find demographic data, or check on the status of a bill in Congress or in your state legislature, etc.


Rhetorical Conventions of Government Information: Ways You can Use it In Your Work

Government information can be provocative, deliberative, official, evaluative, and more. Examples:

Locating Government Information as Sources for Your Paper

Sample questions/topics that may benefit from government information sources: 

  • Can zoning law reform help create more accessible housing? 
  •  Is food insecurity a significant issue for many college students?
  • Should the United States transition into requiring all cars and trucks to move away from gas-powered engines?

These questions and more can be researched using government publications. Government documents can be found on government websites and databases as well as through library catalogs and databases (SearchIt, Academic Search Complete, etc.) and corporate search engines (Google, Bing, Safari, etc.).

One more thing: think about our "types of journals" discussion and activity from our last library session. How do you think these topics may be explored in scholarly journals, trade/professional publications, opinion/policy magazines, and popular/consumer magazines?

About Government Documents: Who creates government information? Where does it come from?

Levels of Government (Not a comprehensive list). Think about what level(s) may have jurisdiction and/or information on your topic. 

City: Public services (i.e. parks and libraries), local schools, city roads and areas, i.e. downtown, zoning, etc., law enforcement/public safety

(National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors)

County: Elections management, Assessor (value of homes and businesses), public services, law enforcement/public safety, jails, roads, public health, courts

(National Association of Counties)

State: Education standards, Public colleges and universities, Elections, Wills and advance directives, crime (unless it's a federal-level crime), State constitution, state laws, taxes, courts

Multi-State:  Comparative policy questions, i.e. Comparison of marijuana legislation.

(The National Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of State Governments and its Book of the States,The National Governors Association)

United States: (federal government): Copyright & patents, currency, foreign policy, national security, taxes, regulating commerce, economic policy, courts

Multi-Country - 

Other Governments - 

International Organizations: trade compacts, security compacts, aid, 


Branches of Government (federal government, most states)


Legislative and this one, among others

Judicial state example

Quasi-Governmental (this link goes to a *great* and extremely reputable source for all kinds of information!)


Finding Government Information in Government Sites and Databases

Government documents can be found all over the web. It can be helpful sometimes to do a site search, i.e. something like this: comic books

Find more guides to government information here at WSU by looking for the Government Information section of our WSU Libraries Resource Guides by Subject portion of the library website. You can click the link above, or from the library homepage click on the Subject Guides link.


What About WSU's Library Catalog, SearchIt?

SearchIt is a great place to find government information - there are lots of historic and contemporary documents in print and online. Sometimes its more helpful to search directly in a government site; sometimes SearchIt will bring you back exactly what you need. 

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us