University of Oregon

Environmental Studies

Guides Home | News | Tutorials | Citing Sources | Reference Sources | Evaluating Sources

This page should help you with your library research assignment. Feel free to contact me with questions. You may also want to try the UO Libraries LibX Toolbar for your browser!

Chat with Dean!

Librarian for: Biology, Environmental Studies

ph: 541-346-2871


Web of Science

This is one of the University’s best databases for searching for science journal articles. The default return of a search provides the most recent article on your topic at the top of the returned search page. However, the sorting can be changed to relevancy to increase the likelihood that the top returned items are related to your search or to times cited which promotes the most used articles to the top of the page.

This database also has a citation index that can be used to determine who the most influential researchers are on a particular topic.

This database focuses on natural history and ecological topics. It will not only search by keywords but will also search the full text of the database for mention of a word. This makes the database work more like Google and is the only database in our science database collection that does full text searching. It is a great source for trying to find any interactions between any group of differing organisms and/or habitats.

Google Scholar
A very powerful search tools for journal articles and gray literature. However, it will find many many items that are not peer reviewed. When in doubt, check a journal title against the Ulrich’s Database ( to see if it is refereed or peer reviewed.

------Second Tier Science Databases--------

Aquatics Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (AFSA)
 AFSA indexes journals, books, reports, and conference proceedings on all aspects of marine, freshwater, and brackish environments. Coverage is from 1978 to the present and is updated monthly.

 This the best database for finding information on agricultural and forestry issues including invasive species.

Biosis Previews
 Similar to Web of Science but will find some conference proceedings and a few more biology related journals not searched in Web of Science.

Zoological Record
This is the definitive index for literature relating to a phylum or class of the animal kingdom. Citations are included from 1993 to the present. The print version of Zoological Record, back to 1864, is available in the Science Library (Z7991.Z87).

*The names of organisms can change over time and many have changed recently with the advent of DNA analysis. Many databases and particularly GOOGLE do not link older names to current scientific names. Use the Integrated Taxonomic Information Service database (ITIS) to find alternative names of an organism to ensure that you don’t miss any important documents on your species of interest.


LexisNexis Academic
The LexisNexis Academic is the premier news database that allows you to read almost any article from any major newspaper in the world regardless of whether the article was published yesterday or 10 years ago.

See my 2 minute video here on how to use it to find opinion information:



This is a very good database for finding articles relating to business, companies, and environment issues.

See my 2-minute video on how to use this data base here:


Public Affairs (PAIS)
This is a very good database for finding environment related articles with a political science or policy perspective.



Using the “site” command:

You can use the “site:” command to look for information from a particular sector of the Internet. For example, you can limit you search to schools (.edu), organizations, (.org) , the US government (.gov) and foreign countries and even more

Example searches for the topic: Biodiversity

  • Biodiversity site:org will search for biodiversity documents from an organization*

  • Biodiversity site:edu will search for biodiversity documents from a school or university

  • Biodiversity site:gov will search for biodiversity documents from the U.S. Government

  • Biodiversity will search for biodiversity documents from the Canadian Government but you would need to use biodiversidad to find similar documents from the Mexican Government. Note the use of searching for the term in Spanish. **

  • Biodiversity site: will search for biodiversity documents from the Lane County government but in contrast you need to use to search for this topic from the Fairfax County, Virginia Government.

  • Biodiversity will search for State government documents on this topic while will search for documents specifically from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

*Anyone, even your 11-year-old kid brother can have a .org so don’t always trust these sites.

**Wikipedia has a list of Internet county codes but not every country uses a government code or extension and if they do, there is not a standard format. Searching for the word “government” in a particular language and with the name of the county can lead to the right format.

Using the “filetype” command:

You can can use “filetype :” to search for .doc, .pdf. and even Excel data spreadsheets (.xls) and GIS shape files (.shp).

Example: Biodiversity filetype:xls

Evaluating Sources

This web page contains a wealth of information on evaluating information sources both in print and on the Web: Critical Evaluation of Information Sources

To determine whether a particular periodical (magazine, journal) is scholarly (peer-reviewed, refereed) or popular, see these pages:

What is "peer-review"?

Here are a couple of pdfs that provide good explanations of what it is (and is not), and why it's particularly important in the sciences:
(NB: both of the above are produced in the UK, so there are a few Britishisms that may not make sense)


Created by dpwalton on Aug 15, 2012 Last updated Aug 20, 2012
1501 Kincaid Street
Eugene, OR
T: (541) 346-3053
F: (541) 346-3485
Donate To the UO Libraries