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LibrarySearch is our main way of searching the library's collections, this includes books, articles, videos, websites, and more. Because it searches across our collections, it's a good starting place for interdisciplinary topics like environmental science.
Too many results?
Because this is such a large system, many searches will return an overwhelming number of results. First, make sure you're including specific terms to define your topic. After that, make use of the "Refine Results" section on the left side of the screen.
You can narrow down the results by a lot of useful things:
- Peer-Reviewed Articles. Sometimes call "scholarly sources" or "academic papers." These are published by scholarly journals and often you'll be asked to look at just those sources for an assignment.
- Type of source. Choose from things like books, articles, videos, websites, maps, and more. Click "Show more" to see all the choices.
- Date published. This is particularly helpful if you're seeing a lot of older publications.
- Subject**. This one is tricky. I like using the subjects to narrow down to specific aspects of a topic. In this case, I might choose "agriculture" or "technology." But remember not every database uses the same subject terminology, so when you narrow by subject you may end up missing relevant sources.
- You could also narrow to only items available online (though we have many great print books that you'd then miss.
See how the same research is reported in different kinds of sources
As you come across articles reporting on studies or topics in sustainability (or really any topic), it is helpful to know whether you are looking at the original research published in a scholarly journal, or if you are looking at reporting being done about it.
Remember that the fact that an article is published in a scholarly journal or a popular magazine does not make it inherently good or bad. The articles have different purposes and will provide different types of information. It is generally a good idea to look at the original research to find out more about how a study was done or its limitations. A popular magazine article may not give you that detail, but it may still do a good job explaining the information.
Things to ask yourself:
- Who is the author of the article I'm reading?
- Were they one of the researchers of the study being reported on?
- Do they name the researchers of the study?
- Did they talk with the researchers?
- Who is this article written for? Other scientists? The general public?
- It is great when there are good articles explaining research studies to the public. Often the articles for the general public have fewer details about how the research was done. But they should link to the original study or give you enough information to find it yourself.
- If I'm not reading the original study, how would I find it?
- Look for the title of the study, the author's name, the date that the research was done, or the journal it was published in.
- Search for those items in LibrarySearch to see if we have the article.
- Hint: Easiest is just to start with a search of the first few words of the title. If that returns too many results, add more of the title or the author's name or journal name.
- If you can't figure out the author, title, or journal from the article, it may be that the research hasn't been published. You might want to be more skeptical in that case.
- Articles are written by journalists
- For the people who are not experts in the field
- Often do not include bibliographies or cited references
- Articles written by the researchers who did the study
- Written for other scholars and researchers in the field
- Articles include a bibliography or references cited section
"Are we eating the world's megafauna to extinction?"
Things in this article indicate it is likely a scholarly article:
- The authors are researchers in the field. On the website for this journal, you can click an author's name and see where they work and what else they've published in that journal (outlined in red in the image). In this example, these authors all work in universities around the world, in environmental or related departments.
- The article is broken into sections including abstract, introduction, methodology, results, and conclusions. On the website for this journal, you can click on the sections link to see all the sections of the paper (outlined in green in the image).
- There is a long list of references cited at the end of the article.
Click the image to get to the full article online.
Ripple, WJ, Wolf, C, Newsome, TM, et al. Are we eating the world's megafauna to extinction?. Conservation Letters. 2019; 12:e12627. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12627
"Humans' meat consumption pushing Earth's biggest fauna toward extinction"
This is an overview of the research, published by Science Daily, that collects stories about scientific research and publishes it for an audience that is interested in keeping up with science news, but isn't necessarily an expert in the field.
Some things that indicate that this is not the original research:
- The author of this article is listed at the end, without any information about where they work.
- The article refers to "Findings published in Conservation Letters" (outlined in red in the picture). This is helpful if you want to track down the original research paper.
- There is only one reference at the end and that is for the source of findings mentioned in the article.
Click on the image to get to the article online.
Oregon State University. "Humans' meat consumption pushing Earth's biggest fauna toward extinction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190206101055.htm>
"The Most Effective Way To Save The Planet"
This is an article aimed at communicating science research to the general public. This article does not cite the research in the original article in the other tabs (this article was written before that research was published), but it is still talking about a similar concept and does refer to original research published in the journal Science.
Things in this article that indicate it is not the original study:
- The author is a contributor to the Food and Lifestyle section of Forbes (highlighted in green in the photo).
- Phrases like "mother nature" and "happy camper" (highlighted in red in the photo) are not scientific terms, but are instead used to make the content more relatable and understandable.
- Photo used for illustration is a stock photo.
Click the image to get to the article online.
Rowland, Michael Pellman. “The Most Effective Way To Save The Planet.” Forbes. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpellmanrowland/2018/06/12/save-the-planet/.