Veronica Calderhead
Physical Sciences Librarian and
Collection Development Coordinator
March 29, 2009
Learning Tools: Class Guides: Dana Class Guides:
Environmental Issues
Prof. Mercedes Walker


  • What do scholarship and rigor mean?
  • Why do we apply rigor to our argument?

Information and Knowledge

  • What is information?
  • What is knowledge?
  • How do you turn information into your knowledge?


Example: Nuclear Energy
Analyze your topic. Break your topic down into separate components e.g.
  • What are the specifics of nuclear energy, how does it work?
  • Are there recent technological/scientific advances?
  • What are the non-technological/scientific issues related to nuclear energy?
  • Have there been recent changes in the public's perception?
  • How does it compare to other forms of energy; renewable and/or non-renewable?
Now find information on those distinct topics.
Finding the information: Reference Material | Books | Articles | Data Sources | Web | Style Manuals

Finding Reference Material

If you are approaching and researching an unfamiliar topic, begin with a reference book like an encyclopedia or even a dictionary.

Finding Books

Use the Rutgers library catalog to locate Rutgers University Libraries (RUL) books.
Use the catalog to find books, films, photos, maps, journals etc held by the university collection? The library catalog does not include articles inside the journals/magazines.

Finding Articles: Indexes and Databases

  • Use an index to find articles
  • Choosing the appropriate database: There are hundreds of databases from which to choose. Which ones do you use and where should I start searching?
  • Choosing terminology, e.g. nuclear energy, nuclear power, renewable energy, etc.
There are three broad categories of articles:
  • Scholarly or academic (peer reviewed)
  • General interest magazines e.g. Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, The Nation, Economist etc.
  • Newspaper articles
All of the above have a place, one isn't better than the other. However, there are times where one is more appropriate.
Suggested indexes:
Environmental specific indexes are listed at: Environmental Science

Finding Statistical and Data Sources

Are data necessary to support your argument? Increasingly, web sites provide access to large data sets especially in the scientific fields. Government servers have good statistical access.

Broad statistical coverage is available in the following indexes:
For additional sources of statistical data, consult:

Supplementary Information:
N.B. Few areas of research can be done in isolation. Environmental Science is interdisciplinary by nature; biology, chemistry, geology, are just three of the sciences which contribute to the field. Note that environmental science is about balance and competing needs. Human impact and impact on humans. Population and Demographics are areas that will enter into many of your arguments. Familiarize yourself with the population and demographic sources, i.e. Census data, population studies, demographic projections will amplify your arguments.

Finding Web and Internet Resources

Use the following library guide for assistance and advice on web searching:
Accessing Information on the Web
Use the following guide for evaluation of web sites:
Evaluation of Internet Resources
Policy papers are an excellent source to determine positions on specific issues. Government servers are a good place to start. To find statistical and policy information go to:
Environmental Studies Research Guide: Government Servers

Style Guides and Citation Manuals

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