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DCCL Orientation & Dissertation Workshop

Guide to FLITE's resources for DCCL students, especially those working on their dissertation.

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What are government documents?

"A U.S. government document may be broadly defined as any publication issued at government expense or published under the authority of a governmental body. Included are official papers that record the actions or deliberations of government (such as the Congressional Record), informational publications (like the many statistical compilations of the Bureau of the Census), and reports of research done under government contract. 

The United States Government, often through the Government Printing Office (GPO) and its predecessor agencies has provided open access to much U.S. information since 1790." Retrieved from​

Why use government documents?

Government documents are a particularly strong source of statistics. The federal and state governments are often the only entities large enough to collect statistics in a major way. Business and industry also collect statistics but those are often protected and/or very expensive to purchase. Additionally, organizations that receive grants often have to publish their information and you will find those reports in government documents. Information about agency projects and laws can also be found in government documents. There's a lot to discover!

How can I find government documents?

Older government documents are available in print, on microfilm/fiche, and often online. You can find them in the library catalog. However, newer government documents are almost always available online. You can find them with Google, but I recommend the search engine This limits results to federal, state, county, city, and military websites.