Do Task #1 on page 92 to review the legislative process. Allow time to read and absorb. This is essential preparation for researching government records! Without knowledge of record types—e.g., what’s the difference between a bill and a law? What’s the force of a resolution? —you cannot intelligently search legislative records, which are organized by record type.
Do the following warm-up exercise to get familiar with the primary tools you will use for research in this online assignment help, the government databases Congress.gov (Library of Congress) and Congressional (ProQuest). The latter is available via the GSU Library Database website. Allow time to do this exercise several times, in order to become comfortable using several functions each tool can perform for you—e.g., alternative searching methods, good to know when your first try fails.
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The exercise introduces you to a fundamental reality of government records research, necessity to know the controlled vocabulary each database uses—e.g., the information you seek is accessed by different names in different databases.
A major cause of failed searches is using the wrong name (in that database) for the information. This is easily remedied by checking first to see how your database-of-choice categorizes and names that information.
In addition, the exercise practices a helpful research tactic for learning the legislative history of a topic, searching across multiple record types—e.g., trace a topic through proposed bills (various versions), deliberation in hearings, debate prior to voting, enacted legislation (statutes), and, if you’re lucky and there is one for your topic, committee reports that summarize much of what you seek to learn.
From your previous problem description (Activity #2), choose subject terms (names of topics or concepts to search for in legislative records in the Library of Congress’s database Congress.gov and the ProQuest database Congressional, search for your subject terms in all the following record types:
Statutes (public laws)
Committee reports (and joint conference report, if there is one) on relevant statutes
Remarks, debates, summaries in the Congressional Record especially by principal sponsors of relevant bills
Bills in various proposed versions (House, Senate, in different Congresses) to see significant differences among versions
Witness statements in relevant committee hearings
Based on your previous problem description make note of what you’ve found during your research regarding a. – e. under the heading “Problem Description in the Legislative Process.”
Do Task #2 on page 93-94 to review the how to conduct research. Decide on your research strategy (decide whether you will research a single law’s history or an issue’s history consisting of many bills and laws). Make the decision with two factors in mind.
The first factor is the nature of the action to date—does your problem of concern have a narrow history (one law, modified over time) or a wide history (many bills or many laws directly or indirectly affecting the problem, or many significant modifications in the original law?)
The second factor is to think about is the rhetorical situation of your problem definition—what is your purpose? (Advocacy) Who is your intended audience? What does that audience need to know, in order to comprehend and consider your advocacy? E.g., do they require information on what has happened over time to one law (narrow) or on the scope of concern for the problem (wide)?
Note: you might begin your searches using one strategy, then find that the other strategy is better, given the nature of action to date. It’s OK to change strategies (but not topics) or to combine strategies, if needed.
If you change strategies, probably you need to re-cast the rhetorical situation, too. The strategy should always be in synch with your rhetorical situation.
Conduct research using databases Congress.gov and Congressional (It is essential to start soon! Allow for a steep learning curve at first! Even after you know what you’re doing, allow for stop-and-go progress. Like solving a mystery, government records research has many unexpected developments and tantalizing distractions.
You will spend much time going one step forward, two steps back or aside, then another step forward. You will find interesting, only indirectly relevant, stuff. Government records are a treasure trove of information on all subjects.
Manage your time! Focus! Submit your description of the research process, your responses to the above questions and your findings under the heading “Legislative Research Process.
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