Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

By Nancy E. Douglas; Nathan E. Baum | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III
USING THE MONTHLY CATALOG OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS

The United States Government Printing Office (G.P.O.) is the world's largest publisher. It publishes documents ranging in size from one page to many volumes which are issued by the various departments of the government and by Congress and its myriad committees and subcommittees. Many of these government bodies, such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, regularly publish material relevant to research in psychology. In addition, hearings held before Congressional committees such as the House or Senate Special Committees on Aging, often contain testimony presented by experts on topics of current interest. The various government agencies also publish a wide range of statistical and demographic information which can be very useful for certain types of psychological studies. A comprehensive psychology research strategy should include government publications, and this is especially true if you have access to a library which is a complete or partial U.S. government depository library. Such libraries automatically receive all or a selected part of the documents published by the G.P.O. and are required by law to make them available to the public.

Usually you should consult the sources listed in the main part of this book before looking specifically for government documents. However, in certain areas of research, you might want to explore government documents early in your information search. For instance, if your topic is somewhat controversial or of current interest, you might be able to find some useful Congressional committee hearings which present the issue and expert testimony supporting different points of view. Often government publications will provide background summaries of an issue which can be very useful in the initial stages of your research, and the government is an excellent source of statistical or demographic data. To find out what documents are available on the subject you are researching, you will have to consult the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications ( Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1895- ).

The Monthly Catalog has undergone numerous changes in title and format since it was first published in the nineteenth century. The most recent major changes occurred with the publication of the July 1976 issue of the Monthly Catalog. The information contained in this chapter is applicable to the Monthly Catalog format from that issue to the present.

In each monthly issue the Monthly Catalog lists documents published by the G.P.O., in an arrangement based on government departments. Thus, a typical issue of the Monthly Catalog will list first the publications of the Agriculture Department and its various divisions (e.g., Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service), then the Commerce Department and its divisions ( Census Bureau, etc.), and so on through the

FIGURE III.2 Monthly Catalog, 1980
FIGHURE III.3 Monthly III.3 Monthly Catalog, 1980 Cumalative title key word index.

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