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Government Publications: Evaluate & Cite

This guide will get you started in finding government publications at the federal, state, county, and city level.

Criteria and Questions

Evaluate all information carefully. Web sites present additional challenges. Use the evaluation criteria below to determine the quality of information sources.

Purpose- What is the source trying to do? Entertain? Persuade? Sell? Inform?

Authority- Who's responsible for the information? The author? Publisher?

Accuracy- Is the information correct? True? How does it compare with others?

Objectivity- Is it inherently biased? Are their other sides to the story?

Currency- Is the information up-to-date? Timely?

Coverage- How much detail is included? What's excluded?

Citing a government publication: Examples

Federal Government Publication in APA:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2003).  Managing asthma: A guide for schools [NIH Publication No. 02-2650]. Retrieved from

National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2008). Biofuels basics. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. (1990). Clinical training in serious mental illness (DHHS Publication No. ADM 90-1679). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Federal Government Publication in MLA:

United States. Dept. of Justice. Dept. of Community Oriented Policing Services. Community Policing: Looking to Tomorrow. By Drew Diamond and Deirdre Mead Weiss. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

United States, Congress, Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Hearing on the Geopolitics of Oil. Government Printing Office, 2007. 110th Congress, 1st session, Senate Report 111-8.

United States, Government Accountability Office. Climate Change: EPA and DOE Should Do More to Encourage Progress Under Two Voluntary Programs. Government Printing Office, 2006.

Citation Style Guides

A good researcher uses a standard citation format to identify the information used and give credit to its creator. Consistency is crucial. Find tips on using:

Is writing up your Works Cited page getting you down? Let NoodleBib help!  It's a guided citation composer that can take the frustration out of citations.