Institutional sources are publications issued by institutions or associations. These organizations are often formed by the members of a profession (e.g. the American Medical Association), people with a common interest (e.g. the National Rifle Association), or people whose job it is to do research and issue position papers on matters of public policy (e.g. the Cato Institute). Their publications include such forms as a position statement on an issue (often found on the institution's Web site), a research report, or even a periodical.
To evaluate your sources, use the Critical Evaluation of Information Sources guide.
The following steps can make your search for institutional sources easier:
- Search for institutional Web sites on your topic. These often contain the organization's position statement on a particular issue. Use Google's Advanced Search engine, enter appropriate keywords, and, in the Search Within a Site or Domain box, type .org
- A standard print source is The Encyclopedia of Associations (Reference Knight AS 22 .E5; ask at Reference Desk). Use the "Name & Keyword Index" to locate institutions or associations relevant to a particular issue. This encyclopedia describes the purpose of each association and gives addresses, phone numbers, web site URLs, etc.
- The American Policy Directory (compiled by the UO Libraries' Document Center) provides convenient links to institutions by subject.
- The Oregon Policy Directory lists local, state, and regional organizations that work on all areas of public policy in Oregon and from all points of view.
- CIAO: Columbia International Affairs Online offers fulltext access to the papers of over 90 institutions, with keyword searching available.
- Lobbyists of associations or institutions often testify at Congressional hearings on public policy matters. Lexis Nexis Congressional provides indexing of these hearings, from which a list of institutional representatives can be obtained.
- Another good method for finding institutional sources is to look again at the articles from general interest periodicals or academic journals that you have already found. Notice if any of them quote from authorities or spokespersons on the subject. For example, an article in Time on health issues with cell phones might quote from a representative of the National Safety Council. You could then contact the NSC or try their Web site to obtain a statement on that topic.
Note: There are literally thousands of institutions and associations, and no library has the resources to collect the publications of all of them. Unlike the Documents Center, there is no department of the UO Libraries where you would find all of the institutional sources gathered together.
The printed institutional sources that the Library has acquired are accessible through the UO WorldCat. Do an author search (au:) and enter the name of the institution (e.g. au:National Education Association).