English 110 – Menendez – Natural Disasters and Sustainability

Tsunami Painting

About this guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on natural disasters and sustainability. Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

Your Assignment

A six to seven-page research paper on one of the following topics:

  • Topic 1: Post-Katrina New Orleans
  • Topic 2: Post-B.P. Oil Spill
  • Topic 3: Post-Tsunami Rikuzentakata
  • Topic 4: Haiti Today
  • Topic 5: Jersey Shore Today

Using one of these topics, you will identify a narrow focus for your research and develop a critical response and claim. A total of six sources are requied for this assignment. One of these sources will be the selected reading affiliated with your topic. The other five must be found through your own research:

  • At least 1 scholarly, book-length study, or articles published in a book
  • At least 1 scholarly, peer-reviewed journal article
  • At least 2 credible, periodical article
  • Only 1 credible website

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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.

  • Topic 1: Post-Katrina New Orleans
    • Hurricane Katrina, 2005
    • disaster relief
    • Buildings – Repair and reconstruction
    • Sustainable buildings/development
  • Topic 2: Post-B.P. Oil Spill
    • BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion & Oil Spill, 2010
    • Oil spills – Environmental aspects
    • Oil spills & wildlife
  • Topic 3: Post-Tsunami Rikuzentakata
    • Sendai earthquake, Japan, 2011
    • Japan architecture
    • disaster reconstruction
  • Topic 4: Haiti Today
    • Haiti – environmental conditions
    • Tree planting
    • Reforestation
  • Topic 5: Jersey Shore Today
    • Hurricane Sandy, 2012
    • Prevention
    • Flood control
    • Urban planning


Search the library catalog 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.

Periodical Articles

You can often find periodical articles in Academic Search Premier and Environmental Science. However, if you want to focus your search on Newspaper articles specifically, you can try one of the following databases:

  • Newspaper Source PlusProvides the full text of more than 63 million full-text articles from more than 1,210 newspapers, more than 130 newswires, and nearly 50 news magazines. Newspapers include: Christian Science Monitor; The Times (UK); USA Today; and The Washington Post. Newswires include: AP (Associated Press); CNN Wire; PR Wire; UPI (United Press International); and Xinhua (China). Also provides more than 1.4 million TV & Radio News Transcripts from sources such as: ABC News; CBS News; CNBC; CNN and CNN International; FOX News; MSNBC; National Public Radio; and PBS.
  • National Newspapers ExpandedProvides the full text of five of the most read and widely-respected newspapers in the U.S: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington Post.
  • AP News Monitor CollectionProvides near real-time access to top world-wide news from Associated Press on a continuous basis. Includes AP Top News, WorldStream, Financial News, AP Online, U.S. Politics & Government and 50 State Reports. Immediate access to linked full text. The index to the full text content in AP News is held for a rolling 30-day archive, providing 30 days of news relating to your search interests.


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?