Research Methods in Environmental Science


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Library Instruction class on how to find information for an Environmental Sciences project on watershed assessment.

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  • Research Methods in Environmental Science

    1. 1. Environment & Human Life ES/RP 101 Library Instruction
    2. 2. Library Objectives <ul><li>What’s Griffin? What’s Summit? What’s the difference? </li></ul><ul><li>Find journal articles in your subject area/s using WSU Libraries Indexes/E-Journals, Cross Search, SearchIt, and FindIt! </li></ul><ul><li>Find WSU Library guides and tutorials. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Research Objectives <ul><li>Identify your research topic. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My topic is, watershed assessment! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formulate your research question/research statement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your topic is watershed assessment. What are you going to study/research regarding watershed assessment? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gather background information to increase your familiarity with current knowledge of your topic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference books like dictionaries, encyclopedias, subject encyclopedias, and scholarly books on your topic are sources of background information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify key concepts and generate search terms (keywords, synonyms, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Use these key concepts and search terms to search Griffin, Article Indexes/E-Journals, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate your articles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it original scientific research? Is it timely? Is it objective? Is it an authoritative source? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is a peer reviewed journal? Is that the same as refereed? Why does it matter? </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Where to Search
    5. 5. Finding Books: Griffin <ul><li>Griffin is the online catalogue for all WSU Libraries. Use Griffin to search for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Books & eBooks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Journals, eJournals, magazines, and newspapers (but not articles in those journals, magazines, or newspapers) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government documents (US government, state government, United Nations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media (videos, CDs, etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Course Reserves. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use Griffin to place a hold on a WSU book that is checked out to someone else. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Finding Books: Summit <ul><li>Summit is the online catalogue for the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a consortium of libraries throughout the Northwest that have agreed to share resources. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Like Griffin you can search Summit for a variety of resources-books, journals, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike Griffin, borrowing privileges (what you can and can’t borrow), renewing privileges (whether you can renew an item or not), late fees, due dates, etc. are at the discretion of the lending library. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Searching Griffin and Summit <ul><li>The most popular ways to search Griffin and Summit are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword! The catalogues will take the keywords you’ve entered and search the entire record </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Title! If you know the exact title of the book, e-book, journal, etc. you are looking for change the drop-down menu to title and enter the exact title </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Author! Know the author’s name? Change the drop-down menu to author and type the name last name first </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Watson, James </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hey Karenann, why doesn’t subject searching work the way I want it to? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Libraries use pre-set, Library of Congress subject headings when cataloguing anything, that means that you have to know the correct subject heading to search that way directly. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Here’s a tip to subject searching. Did you know that subject headings in Griffin are linked? That means that you can click on the subject heading and find more, related things </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. What does this catalogue record tell me? <ul><li>The Title </li></ul><ul><li>The Location. Which library is it in? Is it on the shelf? Is it online? And the call number indicates the floor number. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Did you know that call numbers are based on the subject? That means you can find other books on the same subject grouped together on the shelf. We call this “the serendipity factor”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Subject Heading This is linked, click on the link to find other books with the same subject. </li></ul><ul><li>The Author. Most of the time this is at the top of the catalogue record, but not always. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authors can be individuals or groups. Groups, like an organization or government agency, are called “corporate authors” </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>If you do not understand the topic you are researching you need to get background information on it. If I don’t know what a watershed assessment is, I need to find out. </li></ul><ul><li>If you have a good grasp on your topic, getting more information will help you gather key concepts to search the literature, understand those key concepts, understand the process the authors describe, and in the end understand the literature better too. </li></ul>Hey Karenann, why do I need background information in the first place?
    10. 10. Where to Find Background Information & Terminology <ul><li>Subject Dictionaries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dictionary of Environment & Conservation Available online from WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dictionary of Ecology Available online from WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dictionary of Water & Waste Management Available online from NetLibrary & WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Environmental Change WSU Holland & Terrell Reference GE10 .E536 2001 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Environmental Science WSU Holland & Terrell Reference GE10 .M378 2003 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Subject Encyclopedias & Thesauri </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of Energy Available online from WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of Environmental Science & Engineering WSU Owen Reference TD9 .E5 2006 v. 1-2 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of Global Change: Environmental Change & Human Society Available online from WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encyclopedia of Water Science Available online from WSU Libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multilingual Thesaurus of Environmental Terms WSU Holland & Terrell Z695.1.E62 M85x 1997 </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Hey Karenann, what about Wikipedia? <ul><li>Would I use it as a source for a paper? No. Why not? Ask yourself this. Is the person who’s writing this entry in Wikipedia an expert in his or her field. If you can’t say yes to that question I wouldn’t use it in a paper. </li></ul><ul><li>Personally, I think Wikipedia is fine if you want some background information for YOURSELF. If I need a refresher on the scientific method or string theory I’d use it. Would I use the Wikipedia entry on the scientific method for my paper on the history of science literacy? No, I’d look elsewhere. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask your prof. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Developing concepts and keywords <ul><li>At this point you have an understanding of your assignment, have selected your topic, and you’ve done some background research on your topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Take the information you’ve gathered so far-your knowledge of the subject, the background information you’ve gathered-and get your hands on a WSU Libraries keyword sheet. </li></ul><ul><li>Start writing concepts that related to your topic. For all of you visual thinkers out there map those concepts out if it helps </li></ul>
    13. 13. Example: Concept Map <ul><li>This is part of a concept map developed by NASA on the hydrologic cycle. </li></ul><ul><li>Concept mapping displays concepts and how they relate to one another. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the end of this handout there is another map of the research process. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Where to Find Articles In Library Lingo a database is an online index of electronic journal articles from a number of different journals. Sometimes the full-text article is available and sometimes it isn’t. The WSU Libraries Articles, Indexes, and E-Journals librarians have created lists of databases arranged by subject. With Quick Search you can do a quick keyword search in a select group of subject lists With Cross Search you can search multiple subject lists at once.
    15. 15. Databases by Subject: Environmental Studies <ul><li>Environmental Sciences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ASTIS Bibliography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BioOne </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biosis Previews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GeoRef </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human Population & Natural Resource Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environmental Engineering </li></ul><ul><ul><li>EiCompendex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Endex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Energy Citations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NTIS </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Databases by Subject: Science <ul><li>Interdisciplinary Science Databases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ACS Journal Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blackwell Synergy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conference Papers Index </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Current Index to Statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GrayLit Network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ISI Highly Cited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Academies Press </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NIST Data Gateway </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Science Direct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SciFinder Scholar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web of Science </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. WSU Libraries Cross Search <ul><li>With Cross Search you can search up to 10 databases subject-specific databases at once. </li></ul><ul><li>Select the subject from the drop-down menu </li></ul><ul><li>Select the database from the list </li></ul><ul><li>Enter your keywords in the search box and click Go. </li></ul>
    18. 18. WSU Libraries Cross Search <ul><li>To view the results of your search click on View. </li></ul><ul><li>If you click on the article title you’ll get a record, not unlike a catalogue record. </li></ul><ul><li>To see if we have the article, either electronically or in print, click on FindIt@WSU. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Hey Karenann, What About Google Scholar? <ul><li>With Google Scholar you perform a keyword search and get articles from journals, right? </li></ul><ul><li>Not exactly. Like Google searches the entire web, Google Scholar retrieves citations to journals found on the web, regardless of whether we have subscriptions or not. That means you are as likely to not retrieve the full text as you are to retrieve it. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You will retrieve citations to articles that cite the article you are interested in, but are not the article itself. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ever notice the FindIt@WSU Libraries link on Google Scholar. Click on FindIt@WSU Libraries and you go to…WSU Libraries FindIt page. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WSU Libraries provides information to Google Scholar on the e-journals we subscribe to and the coverage dates. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>While I can exclude for language, I can’t sort alphabetically or chronologically, there are discrepancies between the number of times an article has been cited in Google Scholar, and Web of Science. Recent articles are 2005? 2006? </li></ul>
    20. 20. Did You Know? <ul><li>The WSU Libraries web address is </li></ul><ul><li>That you can access E-Journals and E-books from your dorm room? </li></ul><ul><li>That the Libraries have scores of handouts and tutorials to help you with your research? </li></ul>
    21. 21. Recap <ul><li>To this point we have gone over: </li></ul><ul><li>Where to search for items in the WSU Libraries-Griffin. </li></ul><ul><li>Where to search for books not held in the WSU Libraries-Summit </li></ul><ul><li>What a catalogue record tells you </li></ul><ul><li>Where to find background information on your topic-Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and other reference works </li></ul><ul><li>Why collect background information-to help you understand your topic better and pick out key concepts that you can use as search terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Where to find articles-WSU Libraries Articles/eJournals lists & Cross Search. </li></ul>
    22. 22. How to Search
    23. 23. Boolean Searching: AND, OR, AND NOT <ul><li>Use AND to narrow/focus searches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? Databases and catalogues will retrieve record where all terms connected with AND appear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>watershed assessment AND riparian buffer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use OR to expand searches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? Databases and catalogues will retrieve records where either term connected by OR appears. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>riparian buffer OR riparian environment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use NOT to limit a search to one term and at the same time eliminate another term </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? Not allows you to leave something out that might otherwise be part of your search results. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>watershed AND pollution NOT nitrates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes AND NOT is used instead of NOT. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use AND NOT/NOT judiciously. You may eliminate something you need. </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Searching for Variant Endings and Spelling <ul><li>Truncation uses a symbol, usually an asterisk (*), to retrieve variant endings of a root word. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pollut* will retrieve pollution, polluted, pollutant etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The vast majority of databases and catalogues use the * to truncate, but some databases use other symbols like # or ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Symbols like the ? or * can also be used to search for variant spellings or plural forms as well. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colo?r will retrieve both color and colour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>H?emophilia will retrieve both haemophilia and hemophilia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most databases use either the ? or * to indicate a search for variant spellings, but some databases use other symbols like #. </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Searching phrases <ul><li>When searching any catalogue or database enclose phrases in quotation marks. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? The default function in catalogues and databases is AND. If you do not put the phrase in quotes, the database will break your search up. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s take our search, watershed assessment AND riparian buffer. If I don’t put those two phrases in quotes the databases will retrieve records containing: watershed AND assessment AND riparian AND buffer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Try “watershed assessment” AND “riparian buffer” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Grouping Searches <ul><li>When grouping like terms together in catalogue or database use parentheses. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(“global warming” OR “climate change”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? Parentheses “force the order”. They instruct the database/catalogue to search the set in parentheses first. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you sat in algebra class and said, I’ll never use this again… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can still search for phrases using quotation marks, and you can tie groups of parentheses together with AND, OR, AND NOT to create complex searches </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Putting Searches Together <ul><li>What is your question? This can be assigned by your professor or one your come up with yourself. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I’m interested in the effects of agricultural runoff on wetlands </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Form your search strategy: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using your research question and background information you have collected gather your keywords/key phrases together. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>runoff, wetlands, effects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify synonyms for those keywords/key phrases. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>fertilizers, nitrogen, “paludal environment”, “nonpoint source pollution”, “water quality”, remediation, extraction </li></ul></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Putting Searches Together <ul><ul><li>Group synonyms together using parentheses and connect them with OR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(effect* OR remediation) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(runoff OR “agricultural runoff”) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tie concepts together with AND. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>wetlands AND (effect* OR remediation) AND runoff </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Test your search strategy. Does it work? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes? Well done! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No? Try refining your search, simplify your search. Check your spelling. </li></ul></ul>
    29. 29. Searching Tips & Tricks <ul><li>At first, choose databases that suit your topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Be adventurous. Try databases that may not be obvious choices. Studying effects of PCBs in the environment? Try medicine or zoology. </li></ul><ul><li>Use your keywords in all of the databases you use, but keep an eye on the subjects and keywords that the databases use as well. This will help you build your search. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can search one database you can use them all. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All databases use some kind of keyword search, even those that have their own thesauri like PubMed and ERIC. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t limit yourself to just online, full-text articles. Use FindIt@WSU to find if the article is available in print. </li></ul>
    30. 30. How to Evaluate
    31. 31. Is this original scientific research? <ul><li>What is original scientific research? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Journal papers, conference papers, a thesis, a dissertation, and technical reports are examples of original research and are considered to be primary sources. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Case reports, editorials, and letters to the editor are not likely to be original research. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A review or analysis of other people’s work, textbooks, handbooks, meta-analysis, and manuals are examples of secondary sources and not original research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask yourself, did the people who wrote the article actually do the research? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Characteristics of original scientific research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it focus on a single, well-defined topic? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it describe an experimental design developed to answer that question? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it outline the methods? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it discuss the results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it suggest a direction future research might take? </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Is this an authoritative source? <ul><li>Some publications carry more weight because they require articles submitted for publication be judged, or reviewed, by an independent panel of experts in the field. These are peer-reviewed, refereed, or juried publications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In order for an article to be published it must be approved by a majority of the panel. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do I know if it’s peer-reviewed? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Check the journal’s editorial statement or instructions to authors, which are located either in the first few or last few pages of the print journal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ulrich’s Periodicals , available online through WSU Libraries, puts a picture of a striped referee jersey next to a peer-reviewed title. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A referee jersey? Yup. Peer-reviewed, refereed, and juried are used interchangeably. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    33. 33. Examples of Peer Reviewed Journals <ul><li>Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies </li></ul><ul><li>Advances in Ecological Research </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamental Aspects of Pollution Control and Environmental Science </li></ul><ul><li>Water Science & Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology, Journal </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of Organic Chemistry </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of the American Water Resources Association </li></ul><ul><li>Mine Water and the Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Natural Resources Management </li></ul><ul><li>Restoration Ecology </li></ul><ul><li>Trace Metals and Other Contaminants in the Environment </li></ul><ul><li>URISA Journal </li></ul>
    34. 34. Is the information objective? <ul><li>Does the author pose a hypothesis that can be tested? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the objectives and the methods written clearly? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the results written clearly in language that is unambiguous and free of bias as possible? </li></ul><ul><li>Who sponsored the research? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the sponsors have a political or financial stake in the research? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the authors have a political or financial stake in the research? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the sponsors, authors, or publishers have an agenda? </li></ul></ul>
    35. 35. Is the information current? <ul><li>To the best of your knowledge have the method changed or has the technoogy changed since the article was written? </li></ul><ul><li>Has the article been superseded? </li></ul><ul><li>To the best of your knowledge has a corresponding errata been published? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An errata is published when there is a mistake of any kind in the article, even a typo. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>With some topics, you want the most current information possible. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fields such as medicine, virology, bioengineering have a marked preference for current information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the field is new, like nanotechnology or nanobiology, there may not much of a historical record to fall back on. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>With other topics you want a balance between current and historical research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A theorist may want to go as far back in the literature as possible to establish a history. </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Is the information valid? <ul><li>Scientific validity is, “The use of accepted scientific principles and methods, including statistical techniques, to produce reliable and valid data” (Emanuel 2000). </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the whole study… ask yourself if the evidence answers the question it intends to. If not, then the research is invalid (Gott & Duggan-2003). </li></ul><ul><li>Are the methods feasible and if you did the same measurements on the same instruments would you get the same result? (Badger 2000, Robson 1993) This is called reliability . (Gott & Duggan-2003). </li></ul><ul><li>Is the information presented in a logically developed, unbiased argument (Badger 2000, Robson 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Does it demonstrate academic/methodological rigor and thoroughness? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rigor is the systematic study of a phenomenon using an appropriate design and methods. </li></ul></ul>
    37. 37. The Research Process: A Map
    38. 38. Do you have a research project? No! Check your syllabus or talk to your instructor. Yes! Do you have a subject/ topic for your research project? Do you understand what the assignment requirements are? Yes! Take your subject and create your research statement/ question No! Check your syllabus or talk to your instructor. Perform background research Identify key concepts from your research statement/question Use these concepts to create lists of keywords. Use these keywords to search Books: Griffin Catalogue Articles: Library Databases Web
    39. 39. Evaluate your search results. Do Your sources support your research statement or answer your research question? No! Start the process over. Yes! Now you can start taking notes on your research and work on an outline for your paper. Take your subject and refine your research statement/ question Perform background research Identify key concepts from your research statement/question Use these concepts to create lists of keywords. Use these keywords to search Griffin Catalogue for Books, Library Database for Articles, and the Web
    40. 40. Karenann Jurecki 131 Owen 506.335.8217 meebo/kjurecki [email_address]