Best Practices: Evidence Sources

I am sure that you do most of your research on the Internet, do you do your research well?

Navigating and determining the viability of sources can be difficult. After all, you’ve got Wikipedia, Google, databases, scholarly journals, think tanks, news organizations, editorials, news aggregators, magazines, blogs, and if you make it to a library, books. To navigate these sources you need to know how to use search terms and symbols, as well as how to skim. For now, I will leave an in-depth explanation of research practices to the pages of Beyond Resolved, but I want to point you to some specific sources of interest you may want to use while researching.

CBO, or Congressional Budget Office

The CBO performs quantitative and qualitative analysis on governmental policy issues. The CBO is perhaps the most objective source of information on many hotly debated issues. It’s a great place to go for background on a topic but also for fair estimates of the effects of a policy.

Black’s Law Dictionary

This is a law dictionary that is excellent for defining terms in resolutions dealing with legal issues.

Amicus Briefs

When a case reaches a Federal District Court or the Supreme Court, interested parties file Amicus Briefs on behalf of either party in the case. These are excellent sources of arguments and evidence on any topic that has a relevant Court case dealing with its concerns. In order to find relevant briefs, you should know the Supreme Court case you are interested in. You can find many briefs here or you can try to access them on Lexis Nexis if you have a subscription. Through the Department of Justice you can also access briefs filed by the US Solicitor General from 1997 to the present.

Transcripts

You may find a speech, governmental hearing, or policy roundtable discussed the topic or relevant information. You should look for the records, or transcripts, of these events and cite that document. Transcripts also often cite other research and scholarly publications, which could be useful to you as well.

Legislative Resource Groups

Both sides of the political spectrum have resources on current legislation being proposed or researched. If the topic happens to coincide with an area of interest, you may have some great evidence and analysis on your hands. Check out alicelaw.org for progressive sources and www.alec.org for conservative sources.

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