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ENVIRON 139: Footprints Across Time, Fall 2012  

A guide to finding online literature and other material for ENVIRON 139: Footprints Across Time, taught by Professor Bobbi Low.
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2014 URL: Print Guide

Places to Search Print Page

Using ArticlesPlus for ENVIRON 139 Research

Since the topics addressed in ENVIRON 139 are interdisciplinary, it makes sense to search in databases that offer access to as many different subjects as possible.  The Library's ArticlesPlus tool meets that requirement handily: it consists of article records from a wide variety of other Library-provided databases.  If you're going to use ArticlesPlus, though, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • ArticlesPlus has erratic subject information in its records - there's no comprehensive list of subject headings that you can use for focusing your search, unlike the other databases that we recommend.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time trying out different keywords.
  • ArticlesPlus contains an overwhelming number of newspaper-article records; I strongly suggest using the "Exclude newspaper articles" option for your searches, and it's a good idea to also use the "Limit to peer-reviewed journals" option.
  • ArticlesPlus will often try to recommend a database or two that it thinks might be useful for your particular search.  Sometimes these recommendations are good, and sometimes they end up just wasting your time.  Use at your own risk.

Library Help

The current on-duty librarian for the library-wide Ask a Librarian IM service is available when you see a green dot at the top of the box.

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Article Databases

The following databases (indexes) are particularly relevant to the research topics for ENVIRON 139.  No single database contains all the material you might need for a paper in this class, so repeating the same search across two or more databases is necessary in order to do a thorough search of the research literature.  For a full list of databases related to environmental literature, click here.


GreenFILE indexes and abstracts over 384,000 articles, books and government documents on global warming, environmental protection and renewable energy.


Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management
A multidisciplinary database with abstracts and citations drawn from over 5980 serials including scientific journals, conference proceedings, reports, monographs, books and government publications.


Water Resources Abstracts
Provides comprehensive coverage of water resources issues, including groundwater, lakes, estuaries, water supply, desalination, water yield, water quantity, groundwater management, watersheds, water quality, wastewater, and water law.


Database Search Tips

A few general tips that you should keep in mind while doing database searches:

Use the "advanced search" option.  Unlike the Google-type single search box, the advanced search feature on most databases makes it easy to construct relatively complex searches easily.  Advanced search also allows you to change the portion of the database record that the search is looking at, which is especially useful when you're searching for subject terms (see below).

Know how your results are sorted.  Different databases have different default sort orders: some sort your search hits by "relevance," while others sort so that the most-recently-published materials appear at the top.  Find the option to change the sort order on your search results page (usually at the top near the right-hand side) and see whether you find more useful material if you use a different sort order.  A good rule of thumb: if you're doing a simple all-fields search, sort by date; if you're searching for database-specific subject terms, sort by relevance.

Use the database's subject categories.  Nearly every database uses a controlled vocabulary to describe its materials: a list of approved words or phrases that describe the specific content of any given article.  Different databases may refer to these as "subjects," "descriptors," or "identifiers."  Whatever the name, they provide a much more powerful means of searching than a simple keyword search.  When you've found a few articles that appear especially relevant for your topic, look at the individual records for each article and pick out the subject terms (often found below the abstract) that describe the different parts of your search.  (A search for "household water usage" in a particular database, for example, might produce a number of articles tagged with the subjects "water use" and "municipal water supply.")  Once you've found some subject terms that look promising, try a new search using those terms, and change the search field from "all fields" or "all text" to "subject" (or "descriptor" or whatever it's called in that particular database).


Statistics and Government Info

Depending on your topic, you may find it necessary or useful to start looking specifically for statistical information to include in your paper.  The librarians at the Clark Library are our specialists on statistical and government information - check out their research guides below for sources to search, or contact them for a research consultation if you're having difficulty finding the material you need.

Finding Statistics
Sources for government statistics at the federal, state, and local level, as well as international sources.

Non-Governmental Organizations
A brief guide to the wide world of NGOs: their websites, publications, etc.

U.S. Census and Demographic Information

State and Local Government Information

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Natural Resources and Environment Librarian

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