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Research Tools

Insanely Useful Web Sites have been link checked as of 4/8/12

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Contractor Misconduct

Contractor Misconduct Database – The government awards contracts to companies with histories of misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations. In the absence of a centralized federal database listing instances of misconduct, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is providing such data about the top 50 contractors. – a project of the Sunlight Foundation and Taxpayers for Common Sense – is a user-friendly, online investigative tool that lets citizens determine if earmarks – the measures inserted by members of Congress into the various appropriations bills that direct funds to a specific project or recipient – address pressing needs, favor political contributors or are simply pure pork. The site guides users through a series of steps that an investigative reporter would follow, associating different kinds of political information with each earmark, and also guides them on how to use online resources on campaign finance, lobbying and federal spending for their research, including and Users can also comment on and fact-check one another’s work, or send messages – including tips and suggestions – to others. – a project of OMB Watch – combines data from the Federal Procurement Data System and the Federal Assistance Award Data System to create a free, searchable database of federal government contracting and spending. The database allows users to search contracts and grants by state, congressional district, contracting agency or type of award, and shows where the money is being spent and whether it was competitively bid. ( is a Sunlight grantee.)

Follow The Money

The National Institute on Money in State Politics operates a searchable database of all campaign contributions to political campaigns at the state level. The database allows users to search for contributions to candidates for office at all levels of state government and for contributions spent on supporting and opposing ballot initiatives across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Institute has made available several APIs so programmers can access and display the Institute’s data in their own applications. (The National Institute on Money in State Politics is a Sunlight grantee.) centralizes information on the legislative process into a Web site Users can search through member of Congress profiles, bills, votes, and committee action. Users can also create their own Congress-tracker by subscribing to email updates or by creating RSS feeds to keep informed on the latest developments related to bills, issues, members of Congress and committees.


Legistorm provides two unique sets of congressional information. Their congressional staffer salary information can be searched or browsed, giving a revealing view into the working of member, committee, leadership, and administrative offices. Legistorm also presents congressional travel data, offering a robust search feature and rankings among members, staff, sponsors, and destination.

MAPLight provides a detailed analysis of legislation by tracking bills, the support and opposition bills garner from interest groups and the campaign contributions given by those interest groups to members of Congress and for the state of California. The site lets users tracks the day by day, vote by vote, impact of political contributions at the federal level. This analysis is based on databases available from the Center for Responsive Politics at and from official records of the Library of Congress via The resulting database of bills, voting records, and campaign contributions powers the search engine at and enables people to see the links between dollars spent and votes cast in Congress. The site allows users to search by bill, interest group or by legislators, and also allows similar searches of the California legislature and state Senate. ( is a Sunlight grantee.)


Metavid is a project that captures, streams, archives and facilitates real-time collective remediation of federal legislative proceedings. Metavid opens up video source footage of House and Senate proceedings for permanent reusable online access, allowing citizens to remix, investigate, and track their representatives in a participant-driven open source archive. (Metavid is a Sunlight grantee.) – a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation – is an open-source, non-partisan, legislative Web resource that uses structured data scraped from THOMAS by to show legislative information – bills, committees, member profiles – in a more useable format. offers RSS feeds as an easy and convenient way to follow the latest news and blog mentions relating to a bill, a vote or a member of Congress. The site serves as a rich resource for political bloggers, issue-based membership groups, and individuals.

FOIA Document Review

Open Community Document Review System – a project of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) – provides an online review process that enables people across the Internet to review, tag, comment on and rate the importance of government documents received by CREW through Freedom of Information Act requests. (This project of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is a Sunlight grantee.)

Open Secrets – a project of the Center for Responsive Politics – is the premiere source of data on money in national politics. provides a searchable database for the campaign finance data of all federally elected politicians since 1989. The site contains individual campaign finance profiles of each member of Congress and each presidential candidate. The site relies on data compiled by the Federal Election Commission. The user is able to search by member of Congress, by donor, or by industry sector. The site also contains four separate databases: lobbying, personal financial disclosures, congressional travel and revolving door. (The Center for Responsive Politics is a Sunlight grantee.)

OS: Lobbying Database

The Open Secrets Lobbying Database – a project of the Center for Responsive Politics – collects information from lobbyist disclosure forms and provides it the user in a number of searchable ways dating back to 1998. Among many options the user can search by client name, lobbyist name, bill ID number, lobbying firms, and issue area. The site allows the user to search through lobbying firms, top lobbying contracts, individual lobbyists, and the top lobbying industries. (The Center for Responsive Politics is a Sunlight grantee.)

OS: Personal Financial Disclosure

The Open Secrets Personal Financial Disclosure Database – a project of the Center for Responsive Politics – has information from the personal financial disclosures filed by every member of Congress and every executive branch official since 2005 and presents it all in a searchable format. The user can search through member’s net worth, stock holdings, assets, and outside income. (The Center for Responsive Politics is a Sunlight grantee.)

OS: Revolving Door

The Open Secrets Revolving Door Database – a project of the Center for Responsive Politics – aggregates all information related to those leaving work on Capitol Hill to go to work on K Street and vice versa. The Center for Responsive Politics’ Revolving Door database tracks anyone whose résumé includes positions of influence in both the private and public sectors since 1998. Users can search for members of Congress and congressional staffers turned lobbyists by looking at the congressional offices and committees with the most people spinning through the revolving door. Top agencies, members, congressional committees, and organizations are all available search options. (The Center for Responsive Politics is a Sunlight grantee.)

OS: Travel Database

The Open Secrets Travel Database – a project of the Center for Responsive Politics – a search engine of aggregated privately sponsored congressional travel information compiled from reports filed by members of Congress with the House Legislative Resource Center and Senate Office of Public Records since 2005. Users can search by member, staff, sponsor, country, city and industry to see who is funding their travel. The site also provides maps showing where each individual member of Congress and their staff have traveled. (The Center for Responsive Politics is a Sunlight grantee.)

Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart provides detailed information – biographical information, campaign finances, interest groups ratings, issue positions, and public statements – on elected officials including the President, members of Congress, state officials and leadership in state legislatures.

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Taxpayers for Common Sense provides reports on pork barrel projects and earmarks in Congress analyzing bills in real-time and providing databases of information. Its mission is to reduce wasteful government spending. (Taxpayers for Common Sense is a Sunlight grantee.)


WashingtonWatch determines the average cost, or savings, per individual of each bill introduced in Congress by performing calculations on government estimates compared to the US population. The Web site provides users with pro and con arguments for each bill, allows comments on each bill, allows users to vote “yes” or “no” on the bills and provides a “write your rep” function. WashingtonWatch also provides a wiki that allows users to add content to each bill. (WashingtonWatch is a Sunlight grantee.)

Insanely In Depth

Josh Tauberer, Govtrack’s creator and proprietor, has gone far beyond building a simple tool to help track congressional proceedings; Josh’s creation has become a fundamental fixture in terms of both government information and structured data… [more]

Identity Theft Information

Ongoing Projects

Realtime Investigations: Follow along as Bill and Anu detail their investigative reporting adventures.

The OpenHouse Project: Working to identify areas where Congress can open up and improve access to relevant and timely information.

What’s McConnell Hiding?
Help us reveal which anonymous senator blocked a bill to create more transparency in the Senate.

OpenCongress: Bringing together official government information with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind what’s happening in Congress.

Renewable Energy


Ancient Scripts

News Services

Agence France-Presse
BBC News
Common Dreams NewsWire
Envirolink News
Environmental Media Services
Enviro Newsnet
Gay Financial News
Good News Agency
Headwaters News
Institute for Public Accuracy
Inter Press Service
Media Education Foundation
Planet Out
Positive Top Story
PR Newswire
Reuters Headlines
Reuters Politics
Reuters World
Women’s E-News
World Wires

Periodicals & Webzines

Albion Monitor
AJReview NewsLink
American NewSpeak
American Prospect
Asheville Global Report
Atlantic Monthly
Bad Subjects
Boston Review
Bulletin/Atomic Scientists
Bulletin/Asian Scholars
Business Ethics
Canadian Dimension
Catholic Worker
Change Links
City Limits
Coffee Shop Times
Color Lines
Conscious Choice
Consumer Reports
Covert Action
Dollars & Sense
Doonesbury Daily
E Magazine
Earth Island Journal
Eat The State!
Electronic Intifada
Foreign Policy/In-Focus
Good Money
Grassroots Econ Organizing
Grist Magazine
Health Policy
Heroine Magazine
High Country News
Hip Mama
In Motion
In the Fray
In These Times
Ironic Times
Justice Denied
Left Business Observer
Middle East Report
MonkeyFist Collective
Monthly Review
Mother Jones
Ms. Magazine
Multinational Monitor
Nation Magazine
National Catholic Reporter
National Parks
New Internationalist
New Labor Forum
New Left Review
New Politics
New Republic
New Rules Journal
Newswatch Project
New Yorker
New York Press
New York Review of Books
Non-Violent Activist
NorthernSky News
NOW Times
Off Our Backs
Orion Magazine
Planet/Sierra Club
Political Sci Quarterly
Progressive Magazine
Progressive Populist
Progressive Response
Progressive Review
PR Watch
Public Eye Magazine
Rachel’s Weekly
Ragged Edge
Red Pepper
Rethinking Marxism
Rethinking Schools
Scientific American
Seven Magazine
SF Bay Guardian
Social Policy
Stay Free!
Sun Magazine
Texas Observer
This Magazine
Toward Freedom
Utne Reader
Village Voice
War Times
Washington Monthly
Washington Spectator
Whole Earth Magazine
Wild Duck Review
Wired Politics
Women’s Review of Books
Work In Progress
World Policy Journal
Yes! Magazine
Z Magazine


Air America
Beyond War
Democracy Now!
Free Speech Radio News
Hightower Radio
Hober: Thinking Radio
It’s Your Environment
KPFA- Berkeley
Latino USA
Making Contact
Media Matters/Bob McChesney
National Radio Project
NewBlackCity Radio
New Dimensions
NPR/All Things Considered
NPR/Morning Edition
NPR/Talk Of The Nation
Pacifica Radio
Partytown/Low Power Radio
Radio Directory
Radio for Peace Intl
The Connection
Thom Hartmann Show
Peter Werbe Show
Working Assets Radio
Workers Independent News Service

Human Rights Tribune

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)
Disability Rights Commission (DRC)
Human Rights First
United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF)
U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
International League of Human Rights
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
Asian Human Rights Commission
European Centre for Minority Issues

The First Six – Deep Web Search Engines: 119 valid resources for research

To get started, try using a search engine that specializes in scouring the invisible web for results. None of these can search the entire invisible web, but they make some inroads that Google has not as of yet.

  1. Intute — A searchable database of trusted sites, reviewed and monitored by subject specialists.
  2. INFOMINE — A virtual library of Internet resources relevant to university students and faculty. Built by librarians from the University of California, California State University, the University of Detroit-Mercy, and Wake Forest University.
  3. Librarians’ Internet Index — A search engine listing sites deemed trustworthy by actual human librarians, not just a Googlebot.
  4. Internet Archive — A database of tens of thousands of movies, live music, audio, texts, and home of the Wayback Machine that allows you to find old versions of web pages, over 55 billion.
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