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Environmental Science

A guide to information resources in Environmental Science

Workshop Resources September 13, 2018

Searching example in presentation: 

My morning coffee buddies on Miramichi Bay have been dwindling in numbers since the opening of a peat moss harvesting operation a few kilometers upriver. Are these two events related? The herons are still plentiful at a barrier island ~15 kilometers downriver from the peat harvesting site. 

First – create a vocabulary list using synonyms, related topics

AND – both concepts required in the results (fewer search results)

OR – either concept in results (more search results)

NOT – exclude a subset (fewer search results)

? – replaces one character

* - replaces multiple characters

“ “ – phrase searching

( ) – groups terms and expressions together as in math (order of operations)


Track your search attempts, results – record what works. Modify your searches as you go along – is there a good word in another article? Do you need to limit by location? Species? Change vocabulary (harvesting or mining)

Use citation information (particularly in Web of Science/Scopus) to get to older (cited) and newer (citing) articles for the one you’re looking at.

Sample searches for Agricultural & Environmental Science database

Peat AND bogs AND birds in Anywhere. 1988 results

Peat AND bogs AND birds in All Subjects. 10 results

1988 is too many, 10 too few. Need to modify search – peat and harvest* AND bird*


In All Subjects: (peat AND harvest*) and (Canada) = 16 results. #2 Exploratory study of suspended sediment concentrations... gets to the correct areas of research for my herons and how they are affected by peat harvesting.

Compare cited by numbers in Ag & Env Sci with Web of Science or Scopus.

Do this for your own areas of research. Are you finding relevant material for your literature review?