Subject Guide: Environmental Studies

A step-by-step approach for finding secondary and primary literature in all areas of Environmental Science and related disciplines.

Questions? Please contact me (


… questions to ask about the information you find; how appropriate and valuable is the information? A worksheet to go along with the questions.
This is the most important part of any search for information!

Take charge of the information in your life
Seek information, not affirmation
Source + Motivation = Value

Dig deeper–do not rely on just one source
Understanding is key

Primary and Secondary Literature:

Secondary literature looks like this or this …
Primary literature looks like thisthis, or this … (note the format–IntroductionMethodsResultsDiscussionReferences)

How to use and understand primary literature?
Please be aware when searching for information —
Predatory publishers


Research question/understand and define a topic
… what is the question(s) you are trying to answer? These secondary sources can help you —
*topic ideas
*understand concepts
*answer fact questions
*discover search terms, phrases, and names
*focus a research question
Remember, true research is rarely a straight path.
Other sources:
Environmental Summaries
From IPUMS/NHGIS — the National Historical Geographic Information System; land cover and climate data for United States counties and Census tracts.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.”
Climate Monitoring (NOAA)
“… Mission is to monitor and assess the state of the Earth’s climate in near real-time, providing decision-makers at all levels of the public and private sectors with data and information on climate trends and variability including perspectives on how the climate of today compares to the past.”
NASA Earth Observatory
Offers geological, environmental, and geographical information about the planet Earth from NASA’s extensive repositories of satellite imagery and numeric data. Includes color photographs, maps, satellite images, articles, data sets, and more.


… these sources can help you find evidence to answer your question or validate/invalidate an answer.
OKAY: Google Scholar
Use the “Advanced Search”; can also be used as a tool to focus a broad search (try out search terms, find a possibility, search that possibility in a disciplinary database, and then use the indexing to more precisely find additional papers).
BETTER: Science Primary Literature 
Includes articles, book chapters, and images that have been used and cited by multiple college students and have been highly cited in the scientific literature. Links to full text are provided; some full text is directly available.

Database help

“PubMed® comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.”  Try the Advanced Search Builder.
Before 1000 BCE to the present. Catalog of millions of books, web resources, and other materials held in libraries worldwide, maintained by OCLC.


If the full text is not directly available above, these are the quickest ways to check if you have access to a source —

Questions? Please contact me (

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