English 110 – Davis – Problems in the Environment

EPA Great Lakes pollution diagram

EPA Great Lakes pollution diagram. Click image to visit EPA.gov.

About this Guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on environmental issues. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignment

A research paper for which you will research an environmental issue concerning land, air, salt water, fresh water. At least five sources are required.

Paper Writing Assistance

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Need More Help?

If you need more help with research, ask a librarian! Stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a librarian by phone, text, or chat for more help. Find our contact information on the right side of this page.Contact Us


Sometimes the words you use to describe a topic are different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search, use “environmental aspects” with your own keywords to narrow down your results, or try some of the search words listed below. Include “California” in any search to find information specifically about our state.

  • Air

    • air quality
    • air – pollution
    • ozone layer depletion
    • smog
  • Land

    • natural resources
    • recycling (waste, etc.)
    • refuse and refuse disposal
  • Oceans

    • marine pollution
    • plastic marine debris
    • waste disposal in the ocean
  • Fresh Water

    • drinking water
    • fresh water
    • water-supply
  • General
    • climatic changes
    • economic development – environmental aspects
    • energy policy
    • environmental management
    • environmental policy
    • environmental protection
    • environmentalism
    • fossil fuels
    • global warming
    • green movement
    • human beings – effect of pollution on
    • human ecology
    • industrial management – environmental aspects
    • nature – effect of human beings on
    • pesticides
    • plastic scrap
    • pollution
    • population – environmental aspects
    • recycling (waste, etc.)
    • refuse and refuse disposal
    • renewable energy sources
    • sustainable development
    • sustainable living
    • waste

Print Reference Sources

Reference Books are a good place to begin your research. You can take notes, or photocopy pages for ten cents a page. These resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section.

Print Reference Sources

  • Encyclopedia of Natural Resources — R 333.703 W246e 2014
  • Encyclopedia of Water Politics and Policy in the United States — R 333.91 D196e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues — R 363.7003 A436e 2011
  • Encyclopedia of World Environmental History — R 363.7003 K92e
  • Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change — R 551.6 F946e 2010

Online Reference Sources

These resources are available online and will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.

Start here:

  • Credo Reference: A database that includes the full text of over 500 reference books.

Or, try one of these specific online reference books, from the Gale Virtual Reference Library:


Search the library catalog (books+) for books on your topic. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.


Search for articles in the following databases. These resources will require your Pipeline account information when you access them off campus.

  • Academic Search Premier: This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.
  • Environmental Science/GreenFILE: A collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles covering all aspects of human impact to the environment, including content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more.

For pro/con information on current or controversial issues, try searching one of these databases:

  • CQ Researcher: An excellent source of pro/con information, containing single-themed reports on issues in the news. Provides in-depth, unbiased coverage of both sides of controversial issues related to health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. Each 12,000-word report includes: an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources. Offers access to CQ Researcher reports dating back to 1991.
  • Opposing Viewpoints: An excellent source of pro/con information, providing opinions and other information on hundreds of today’s hottest social issues. Includes continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.

Evaluating Websites

Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources to determine whether the sources you find are credible:

  • Purpose: The reason the information exists. Is the purpose to sell, to entertain, to inform, to teach, or to persuade? Do the authors and publishers/sponsors make their purposes clear? Is this source designed for general readers or academic readers?
  • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. Does it relate to your topic? Does it meet the requirements of your assignment? Is it too basic or too advanced?
  • Objectivity: The reasonableness of the information. Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong or emotional language, or leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?
  • Verifiability: The truthfulness and accuracy of the information. Where does the information come from? Can you verify it in other sources? Are there citations or links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic?
  • Expertise: The source of the information. Who are the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the information? Are they experts, or has the information been reviewed by experts? Is it posted on a personal website or blog?
  • Newness: The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? Is it up to date? Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as technology or current events), or will older sources work as well?

Recommended Websites

Consider using some of these reliable websites below for background, research, and statistics: