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Political Science: Websites

Evaluating Websites

Researchers generally use websites in two ways:

  1. Research artifact -- Something you're writing about or using as an example. Any website can be used.
  2. Research source -- Primary or secondary sources that support or anchor your argument/discussion. Use only trustworthy, authoritative sites. 

Your argument is only as credible as your sources.


Website Evaluation ABCD


As always, carefully evaluate all information found online.

General Sources

Center for American Women and Politics - wants "to promote greater understanding and knowledge about women's participation in politics and government and to enhance women's influence and leadership in public life."  Women candidates, officeholders, PACs and more.  Courtesy of Rutgers University
American Civil Liberties Union - claims to be "the nation's foremost advocate of individual rights -- litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a broad array of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States."  Site provides discussion of issues ranging from assisted suicide and affirmative action to same sex marriages.  This site is easily browsable and also has a search engine.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - " a national authority on policy issues impacting primarily lower-income individuals and families."   This non-profit, non-partisan organization was formed in response to federal budget cuts for domestic programs during the 1980s
National Archives and Records Administration - a federal agency charged with the preservation and access to historical documents provides this browsable, searchable site which has over 83,000 digitized copies.  Examples include the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation
State and Local Government on the Net - "The State and Local Government Internet directory provides convenient one-stop access to the websites of thousands of state agencies and city and county governments."
The Brookings Institution - a think tank dedicated to improving government policies in economics, foreign policy, and other areas

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The Presidency

POTUS:  Presidents of the United States - links to information on all 43 presidents.  Includes election results, cabinet members, notable events, links to biographies and more.  Courtesy of the Internet Public Library and Robert Summers at the University of Michigan School of Information
The White House - the official White House web site

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THOMAS:  Legislative Information on the Internet - full text of bills beginning with the 103rd Congress, hearings schedules, floor activities, committee activities, bill summaries and current status, historical documents, fulltext of recent Congressional Records and much more.  Particularly helpful to students  may be guides to the legislative process in both the House and Senate.  Courtesy of Library of Congress
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress:  1774 to Present - an online version of this longstanding government document, it provides short biographical sketches, including pictures of some
more prominent members
United States Statutes at Large - "The seventeen volumes presented in this online collection cover the laws of the first forty-two Congresses, 1789-1873"  Courtesy Library of Congress
The Public and Private Laws -  "database is a collection of laws enacted during the 107th  Congress (2001-2002), 106th Congress (1999-2000), 105th Congress (1997-1998) and 104th Congress (1995-1996) and is prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration"
The United States Code - courtesy of Cornell University
Code of Federal Regulations - "The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis."
The Federal Register - "Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents"


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Law and the Courts

FindLaw:  Internet Legal Resources - "An extremely powerful Internet guide to US case law, law codes, law review articles, legal news, lawyers..."  Likely the best free legal resource on the Internet
Web Guide to U.S. Supreme Court Research
Supreme Court of the United States
FedLaw - "was developed to see if legal resources on the Internet could be a useful and cost-effective research tool for Federal lawyers and other Federal employees."  Topic and title indexes help one go directly to a specific law or regulation.  Courtesy of the Government Services Administration
History of the Federal Judiciary - includes judges biographies, important judicial legislation, selected topics in judicial history, and a photographic exhibit.  Courtesy of the Federal Judicial Center


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Campaigns, Elections, Voting and Polls

The Center for Responsive Politics - "is a non-partisan, non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy...  The Center’s work is
aimed at creating a more educated voter, an involved citizenry, and a more responsive government."
Commission on Presidential Debates - offers fulltext of most Presidential debates of the last 50 years
Project Vote Smart - excellent source of non-partisan information on issues and candidates on the national, regional, and local levels, particularly non-encumbents in local and region campaigns
Roper Center - "located at the University of Connecticut, the Roper Center is the largest library of
public opinion data in the world. The Center's mission focuses on data preservation and access, education and research."
Real Clear Politics - "Founded in 2000 by John McIntyre and Tom Bevan, Chicago-based (RCP) has become one of America’s premier independent political web sites. Updated every morning and throughout the day, RCP culls and publishes the best commentary, news, polling data, and links to important resources from all points of the political compass and covering all the important issues of the day. RealClearPolitics has become a trusted filter for anyone interested in politics"

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International Affairs and Comparative Politics

Council on Foreign Relations - An independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher. Providing up-to-date information and analysis about world events and American foreign policy.

‚ÄčForeign Affairs Magazine - The leading magazine for analysis and debate of foreign policy, economics and global affairs. If you can't read the articles you want, full access is available through SU's library subscription.

Amnesty International Online - "Amnesty International is a worldwide campaigning movement that works to promote all the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards."

European Union Internet Resources - an excellent metasite for European Union (EU) web resources, it was created by Andrea Sevetson, a librarian and EU specialist at the University of California - Berkeley. 

Europa - the European Union's official website
The U.S. State Department Official Site - provides information ranging from arms control, to Latin America to tourism.