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ENV 590 — Graduate Seminar in Environmental Science

ATTENTION: This research guide was last modified on February 02, 2011, before the January 2012 redesign of the library's home page. Information on how to access journal articles, databases, and other library resources may be inaccurate or outdated.

For up-to-date instructions on accessing materials, please visit our tutorial pages instead.


Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Concepts and questions for beginning research:

Search Help

Finding Journal Articles

Finding Books in the Library

Finding Quality Websites


Concepts and questions for beginning research:
Concepts and questions for beginning research:

  • Where to Start?
    • What's your research question?
    • What information do you need to find?
  • Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, practitioners, government, etc.)
    • What kind of information do they need?
    • Where would they get it?
  • Types of information available
    • Books
    • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    • Websites
  • Creating an Effective Database Search: Click here for more tips, tricks and advice
  • What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? Click here to find out

Search Help

Creating an effective online search:

  1. Take your research question and circle the "action words"
  2. Think of at least three synonyms for each action word
  3. Use these words in various combination to get a good result (between 15-40 results is optimal)
  4. Combining keywords
    • AND: use to add words to results (volcano AND lahar)
    • OR: use for synonyms or alternate words (pangaea OR gondwanaland)
    • NOT: eliminates any results containing word (emissions NOT smog)

Search Concepts:

  • Phrase searching"" ("global climate model")
  • Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!
  • Find subject headings attached to useful article citations, and redo your search with these controlled vocabulary terms.
  • Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)

More Search Tips:

  • Always use the Print and Save functions embedded within the screen. It is usually not a good idea to use the File-Print or File-Save As functions in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
  • Use the online HELP screens - they really are helpful!
  • If you can't find anything: don't freak out and go to Google! Ask a reference librarian for help.


    • DATABASE: An organized collection of electronic information, such as photographs, addresses, or journal articles.
    • ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: Also known as a subscription database, A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles, e.g: Academic Search Premier. AKA Subscription Database.
    • SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Also called academic or refereed journal. Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication, published for a research audience, narrow focus, e.g.; Molecular Endocrinology
    • MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)
    • SUBJECT HEADINGS : Also called descriptors. Official terms used to classify items in a database.
    • THESAURUS: List and finding aid for official controlled vocabulary terms. Also called Topic Index or Subject List.
    • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article
    • FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the FindItCSUDHbutton to see if the Full Text is available.
    • CITATION: The basic information you need to find the full text of an article. It includes the title of the article, the author, the name of the publication, the date, the volume and issue number and the page numbers.

Finding Journal Articles

NOTE: These indexes must be accessed through the library home page at library.csudh.edu. Select Journal Articles & Electronic Resources. You may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the alphabetical List .

  • Science Direct: hundreds of earth science articles, all from refereed publications.
  • Biological Abstracts: Life science and biomedical research literature published from more than 4,000 journals from as far back as 1969.
  • TOXNET: Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.
  • Springer Link: search for articles in scholarly journals in the earth and environmental sciences, biomedical and life sciences, and other disciplines.
  • GreenFile: Indexing for scholarly, government and general-interest journal articles in global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more.
  • AnthroSource: Complete electronic archive of all AAA journals through 2003, plus current issues for 11 of the AAA's most critical peer-reviewed publications. Indexing from 1880 to the present.
  • AGRICOLA: encompasses all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, including animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, farming and farming systems, agricultural economics, extension and education, food and human nutrition, and earth and environmental sciences.
  • Wiley Online Library: Full text of over 300 leading scientific, technical, medical, and professional journals.

These databases are not specifically earth sciences-related, but they are very good for information on business, economics and local and regional studies:

  • Factiva: Local and regional newspapers, business and trade journals, and current events.
  • Academic Search Premier*: Includes articles from trade publications, reports, magazines and newsletters, as well as scholarly journals.
  • Wilson OmniFile*: Indexes all types of publications in many disciplines. Includes full text for many articles.
  • Lexis/Nexis: Excellent resource for national and international newspapers, magazines, journals, transcripts, etc.
  • ABI/Inform*: Global business database. Use for environmental impact and industry articles

*To limit search to peer-reviewed journals only, look for check box next to Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals, or Academic Journals on database search screen (may be in Advanced Search)

BONUS!! Check out the series "How to Read A Paper" on various types of research articles and what to look for in them. (also available as a print or electronic book)

Having trouble logging in? Click Here

Finding Books in the Library

Go to TOROFIND: the CSUDH Library Catalog and search on the title, author, subject or keyword. Look not only for that specific call number, but also check out the books in that section.

  • If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes).
  • If you still don't find the right book, ask a reference librarian.

Finding Quality Websites

These are indexes to quality web sites that have been reviewed by librarians. The sites have been checked for accuracy, timiliness, stabilty, and will generally conform to the standards of academic research. However, please be judicious in the use of websites in general, because anybody can put anything on the web.

  • Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu): A project from the Univeristy of California and other universities, it is a searchable index of websites specifically appropriate for university research. Click on SocSci & Humanities to search their specialized index.
  • Librarian's Index to the Internet (www.lii.org): Index of websites reviewed by librarians, geared toward the general public. Choose a topic from the index or use Advanced Search to search for keywords.
  • CIA World Fact Book: Cultural, political and economic information for all countries.
  • Geography Portal: from About.com. Links to information from all specialties and sub-fields.
  • Evaluating Information on the Web: This is a very good checklist from the Pasadena City College Library for judging the quality of not only information on the Internet, but any information you may want to use for an assignment.

  1. Finding journal articles using Academic Search Premier (advanced search/retrieval methods, Interlibrary Loan)
  2. Accessing databases from off campus
  3. What is a Literature Review?
  4. Searching Google (section from handout) (advanced Internet search methods)
  5. OR click here to download GUIDES 2-5 with BONUS MATERIAL! (10pgs.)