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Friend or Foe?  Government Documents during Administration Changes

As you can image, there have been lengthy discussion on the Government Documents Listservs about how to teach students about GovDocs right now.  After some partisan comments flying around, most librarians agreed that regardless of who is in the White House, students must be discerning about all sources from the government.  Here’s some talking points to remind students while doing research using GovDocs:
  • Instead of using the word reliable to generally describe GovDocs use the words authoritative and official. 
  • GovDocs should be evaluated like all other information sources.
  • Be especially cautious with executive branch information and congressional information. (Always ask yourself who is providing this information and why?)
  •  Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Government Accountability Office (GAO)  and Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports are still considered non-partisan and reliable.
  • Census statistics are always considered reliable.
  • Congressional testimonies by experts under oath are considered reliable.
  • The government funds a wealth of research in many fields that results in scholarly articles being published in government databases.  These are also often published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals and makes them credible sources to use for research.
If you or your students ever have question, please feel free to call, stop by or email me. I’m always happy to help!

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