Conducting Electronic Research

Government Search

Most of the documents and publications of the U.S government, as well as those of state and local governments, are widely accessible online through popular Web search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search and Ask.com In addition, there are a number of specialized, government sponsored, database-driven Web sites with which to locate this sort of resource material.

Government searches are conducted in the same way as a simple or an advanced search. In other words they are keyword driven. Here is a short list of Government search sites:

Steps of a Government Search Using USA.gov

Step One

In this demonstration the researcher uses USA.gov to search for information about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Feel free to click on USA.gov and become the researcher yourself. The screen-shot below illustrates the home page with the keywords entered into the search field.

As you can see, this page is loaded with links. Take a moment and click around the site just to see what information is available. Notice that the for Citizens tab is the default selection on the top-level navigation bar. Notice also that the left-side menu bar can guide you to more specific government organizations and reference sites and that the main body of the page contains a list of subcategories in which you may narrow your search.

Screen shot of FirstGov's Website

Step Two

This screen shot illustrates the USA.gov browser window after the search button has been clicked.

As you can see, 105 out of roughly 111,000 possible results have been returned and that they are listed according to subcategories in the left-side menu bar. The + sign next to each item on the list indicates that each subcategory can be further explored.

The number in parentheses next to each item indicates how many records will be found when the link is clicked. Notice also that there is an advanced search option located next to the search button at the top of the page.

Screen shot of FirstGov's Website

Step Three

The final screen-shot illustrates the results returned after the researcher has selected the Oil, Coastal Plain link.

Screen shot of FirstGov's Website

NOTE: FirstGov.gov has been changed to USA.gov.

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Introduction