Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Government Information: Subject Searching

This LibGuide provides basic information about how to find and use government documents in the Bowling Green State University Libraries, as well as government documents on the Internet or in databases.

Search Strategies

Sears and Moody identified various search strategies in their book, Using Government Publications: Electronic and Print.

Known Item Search: Useful when you know the title of the item you are seeking, for example Hearing on Appalachia : poverty alleviation strategies : hearing before the Select Committee on Hunger

Subject searches: are similar in approach whether searching for government information or other library resources.  Bibliographies, guides, indexes, and search engines are useful. There are a variety of special government publication
indexes and locators.

Agency Search: Most kinds of government information are not cited by the author but by the agency responsible for issuing them.  One strategy is to identify the government agency responsible for publishing the information you want.  For instance if you wanted a crop report you could go to the USDA website.

Statistical Search: The government issues a huge amount of data and if you're looking for numbers, a government source is frequently available.  In a statistical search you will need to define in detail what you need--do you want crime data by race or other demographic characteristics?  Do you need statistics at the city or national level? Do you need statistics for 1910 or 2010?

Special techniques searches: Include a number of complex, multistep search strategies employed when you want to locate a special topic or type of material such as material at the National Archives, historical information, legislative histories, regulations, grants, treaties, or patents.

Start by Searching for the Subject in the Catalogs

A good place to start is to search for the topic in these catalogs.

Try These Databases To Identify Government Documents

We have various research databases that might help you identify government documents on your topic:

A Few of the Internet Sites That Provide Subject Access to Government Documents

Here are just a few of the many Internet sites that index government documents: