Background and Update Information
These sources give background and history, the current problem, and proposed solutions. They are also good places to look when you are trying to decide on a speech topic.
Each 6,000-word report covers a single subject: its importance and major issues, background and historical developments, the current situation, and the outlook for possible future developments.
Weekly newsmagazine that provides authoritative updates on Congressional committee and floor activities, political campaigns, lobbying, and executive and judicial activities. Use the * (asterisk) to substitute for word endings.
Reports that provide members or Congress, committees, and congressional staff with nonpartisan and objective research and analysis on public policy issues. Many are overviews of pertinent topics relevant to current legislation, including American law, domestic social policy, foreign affairs defense and trade, government and finance, information research, and science and industry.
Pro and con articles on economic, political, and social issues, such as gun control, genetic engineering, censorship, endangered species, and terrorism.
Basic overview, point, and counterpoint for 200 topics. Includes text of relevant periodical and newspaper articles, as well as a few primary documents. Use the * (asterisk) to substitute for word endings.
Part of the reason for finding out more about the topic is so that you can narrow the topic to something manageable. For example, if you were interested in “immigration,” you might narrow your topic to, say, “Congress should pass a law to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for more than five years.”
Good source for choosing a speech topic. Links to top Internet sites on a wide range of controversial issues ranging from abortion to welfare.
SEARCH HINT: You need to critically evaluate your sources (especially websites). Use the C.R.A.P. Test.
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Databases for Articles
FOR ALL DATABASES, FOCUS YOUR SEARCH BY GOING FROM KEYWORD SEARCHING TO SUBJECT SEARCHING.
Provides citations and summaries of articles from over 4,000 publications, with many in full-text. Indexes a broad range of social sciences publications - from popular magazines, such as Time and Newsweek, to scholarly journals, and recent issues of major newspapers. E-mail: articles.
Search Tip #1: Before you search, you can limit the number of databases you look at: click on the downward arrow to the right of “Databases:” and choose “Interdisciplinary: Proquest Research Library.”
Search Tip #2: After entering your basic search, look at the “suggested topics“ above the results you get. Click on the most appropriate one to get a list of the items that focus most on that topic.
Search Tip #3: If you still get a high number of results, consider narrowing your topic.
Other tips: Consider using the * (asterisk) to substitute for word endings. Also, after entering your basic search, if you don’t get many results, look at the list of results. From the titles of the articles listed, you may see other words or terms that will focus your topic better.
Current events, public policy issues, and the social sciences in general--including economic and social conditions, government and politics, and international relations. Indexes a broad range of materials--books, pamphlets, and publications of the U.S. government and of international organizations as well as scholarly journals and opinion magazines.
You can search both PAIS and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (WPSA) at the same time. Click on “change: specific databases” and click on that both WPSA and PAIS. Both databases use the * (asterisk) to substitute for word endings. E-mail: citations.
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Acorn for Books
Acorn is the catalog for all 9 libraries in the Heard Library system, as well as a few other libraries on campus (like the Family Resource Center). It lists almost all books in all Vanderbilt libraries and most U.S. government publications distributed after July 1976. It lists which periodicals we subscribe to, but does not list individual articles.
For books by a specific author, enter the author's name (surname first), then select “author begins with” from the drop-down menu.
For a specific book, enter the first few words of the title, then select “title begins with” from the drop-down menu.
For items on a topic, enter the keywords for the topic, and select “words anywhere" from the drop-down menu. For keyword searching only, use a $ to substitute for word endings (for example, working paper$). To search for a phrase, enclose the phrase with single rather than double quotes (for example, 'north atlantic treaty').
To narrow a search (to lower the number of results): Connect different concepts with the word AND.
Example: adoption AND race
To broaden a search (to increase the number of results): - Connect similar concepts with the word OR.
Example: (race OR interracial)
Use the truncation symbol ($) to pick up variants of terms.
Example: child$ will retrieve items with the terms: child's, children, children's, etc.
It may be necessary to try several searches, varying your key terms and combinations each time, in order to produce a manageable list of relevant items.
Click on the DETAILS button to see more information about the book, including the Library of Congress subjects used to describe it. These subjects will often give you other terms to use in another search. Or, click on the subjects to launch a new search.
To find statistics select ‘SUBJECT keyword’ in the BASIC SEARCH. Enter your topic AND statistics.
Example: China and statistics (SUBJECT keyword)
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Government Information for Hearings and Statistics
Congressional Hearings (GOVT Y 4.__; Microfiche and online)
Testimony on proposed legislation, an existing government program, or an event by representatives for the administration, interest group representatives, state and local officials, members of Congress, and others. Beginning with 1994 hearings look for a Web Link option at the top of the Acorn record to access the online PDF version. If the title does not appear in Acorn, go to GPO Access (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/chearings/index.html).
Indexes Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports, Congressional hearings, and other Congressional publications. CRS Reports provide information on public policy issues for members of Congress. They often cover the issues involved and the possible alternative solutions. Hearings include the text of prepared statements given by expert witnesses at Congressional committee meetings. The Congressional Record contains the floor speeches of members of Congress. Use the ! (exclamation mark) to substitute for word endings.
The basic annual U.S. statistical handbook published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. It contains almost 1,600 tables, of social, economic, and political statistics. Use the source notes at the bottom of each table to lead you to other statistical publications on your topic. Also available as an online database: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010edition.html
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A record of more than 75 years of public opinion. Gallup Brain includes more than 100,000 questions--and millions of Americans' responses--from every Gallup public opinion poll conducted in the United States since 1935. The Gallup Organization regularly polls Americans on current topics and the issues that most affect them.
iPoll (Roper Center)
Offers full-text, question-level summary data from public opinion polls from major survey research organizations in the United States, including the Gallup Poll, Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Harris, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press.
Poll questions and responses from more than 14,000 national, state, local and special public opinion polls and surveys conducted by 700 polling organizations in the United States and 80 other countries.
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