How to do research in Government Information and Public Policy

Library resources for researchers working in political science, international relations, history and other disciplines using government information


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier.

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Statistics, directories, reports
  • Geographic or administrative divisions - Shengen Area, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa 


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

ProQuest Congressional (via HarvardKey) -- Proquest Congressional is a major source of information about the members of Congress and their legislative activities and a primary resource for accessing the many publications of Congress.

PAIS Index (via HarvardKey)  – Indexes the public and social policy literature of public administration, political science, economics, finance, international relations, law, and health care. International in scope, PAIS indexes publications in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The database is comprised of abstracts of thousands of journal articles, books, directories, conference proceedings, government documents and statistical yearbooks.

Dig Deeper

Library staff maintain a series of research guides to various kinds of government information, from various branches, departments, and agencies of the U.S. federal government to Canada, Great Britain and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations.

Databases for Government, Political Science, and International Relations - explore the full list of Harvard Library databases in this subject category.


Hugh Truslow, Head of Social Sciences and Visualization, is available to support researchers via email or in-person consultation.

Service Alert:
  • Some Harvard Library locations will be closed or have special hours for Commencement, Thursday, May 26. Please check the Library Hours page for specifics. Ask a Librarian and chat hours will remain as usual.
  • Most Harvard Library locations will be closed Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Ask a Librarian and chat service will be closed on these dates.
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.



Monday - Thursday 9am-6pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.