Legislative Information from the U.S. Congress & Utah Legislature: Non-government commentary on legislation
The U of U Quinney Law Library offers research guides, tutorial and librarian assistance for in-depth legal research.
United States Government Information
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Political Science & Public Administration
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Newspapers as a research tool
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Demographic Statistics from the U.S. Census and other sources
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SERIAL SET: Using The United States Serial Set in the Marriott Library
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Public Opinion Polls
Polls measure public attitudes
Research Strategy to find out More
Government documents are the original sources for legislative informaiton, but most commentary comes from non-government sources.
Citizen groups, industry lobbyists and public policy think-tanks try to influence the outcome of the legislative process. Websites of these groups can offer useful information to help evaluate legislation.
Caution! Information is considered biased when it specifically promotes a specific agenda (biased doesn't mean "wrong", it just means "one sided"). When you cite this type of information in a research paper, be sure to attribute the source. For example, if you use information from the Sierra Club, idenify that the Sierra Club is an pro-environment organization.
- Newspaper articles can help identify the stakeholders and tell what position they have taken for or against legislation. As you read articles look for the names of organizations. Then look up the website of that organization for more information.
- Many organizations publish a Legislative Scorecard that rates legislators according to specific issues that members are likely to care about.
- Public policy research institutes (a.k.a think tanks) are another good source of reports on proposed legislation. Some public policy research groups are purposefully unbiased; others exist specifically to promote a particular political agenda.
- Public opinion polls are a good way to evaluate what the public thinks about proposed laws.
- Scholarly Articles analyze political topics from an academic perspective. Use the "related guides" listed below to help you find scholarly articles.
Groups that advocate specific political positions often publish "score cards" or "report cards" that evaluate whether votes taken by legislators supported their issues.
Here are some examples.
Many think tanks analyze policy from a partisan perspective which can be especially useful to compare political positions. The list below shows some selected think tanks across the U.S. political spectrum. The Fair Report can help you find a think tank that represents a specific political viewpoint.