Navigating Scientific Literature

  • Jennifer Pontius
  • Alan McIntosh
Part of the Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment book series (STEGE)


Conducting a review of the knowledge base is a common first step in tackling environmental problems. It provides insights to potential causes, impacts, or solutions, ensures that we are not duplicating efforts, wasting time, or missing key information necessary to help solve or mitigate an environmental problem. But in this age of technology, the amount of information available can be overwhelming, making it challenging to cover, assess and synthesize the many sources of information efficiently. Knowing your way around technical reports, government documents, and scientific articles is an important skill to master. In this chapter, we explore some of the most widely available tools for searching the scientific knowledge base, offer tips for sorting and evaluating search results, and consider strategies for efficiently reading, digesting, summarizing, and citing the information you need.


Gray literature Peer-reviewed literature Search engines Citations Reference software packages Literature review Google Scholar 

Additional Information


  1. California State University Long Beach. 2018. Gray Literature.
  2. Colorado State University Libraries. Water Resources: Important Databases for Water Resources.
  3. Mendeley. 2018. Videos and Tutorials.
  4. National Service Center for Environmental Publications:
  5. OAIster is a collection of freely available, open-access, academically-oriented digital resources:
  6. US EPA. Envirofacts website:


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Pontius
    • 1
  • Alan McIntosh
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Associate Professor Director Environmental Science Program Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Professor Emeritus, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural ResourcesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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