WR 121 Cowan Fall 2021: Web sources

Environmental issues assignment

Types of web sources for researching environmental issues

screenshot of Oregon DFWThe research for this assignment should come from a broad array of different types of sources. While you are researching a local issue, you can use information from national or international sources that help you understand that local issue.  For example, research on managing sea lions in California can help us understand the challenges in Oregon. 

Some types of sources useful for environmental issues research that you will find on the web include

  • government reports and web articles
  • environmental advocacy groups
  • business groups
  • TED Talks and other media presentations by experts
  • Google Scholar

Published articles from news, magazines and academic journals will be presented in the next tab about Library Databases.

Government Agency Websites

Government agencies such as the EPA and the Department of Fish and Wildlife conduct substantial scientific research, much of which is freely available online.  You can limit a web search to government sources by adding site:gov to a web search.  For example,Google search for cilimate change oregon site:gov

Here are some recommended government agencies useful for researching environmental issues.

College and university resources

PCC and other colleges are universities are living labs for sustainability work, as well as places where research is conducted. Here are a few local resources.

Environmental advocacy groups

The advocacy groups working for policy changes on the issue you are researching may provide a wealth of information.  Advocacy groups should not be your only source of information, as their focus may be on only one aspect of the larger issue, and may be "cherry picking" the information provided on their websites to make a strong case for their policy goals. Some local environmental organizations: 

Business community resources

Businesses that sell products marketed as sustainable or that work in natural resources extraction industries may also have information on your environmental issue.  As with advocacy groups, keep in mind that businesses provide one perspective on the larger issue, and may have a financial incentive to shape information in certain ways.  For example, if you are researching the environmental impacts of paper vs. plastic bags, expect to find different answers about which option is "greener" from the industries that market those products.

Some local business groups related to environmental issues:

Media resources

Environmental experts and advocates share their expertise through presentations such as TED Talks.  Film makers present their analysis of environmental issues through documentaries.  Here are some examples of media sources for researching environmental issues. 

Find Articles with Google Scholar

Before searching, be sure to set PCC as your library in your browser by:

  1. Visiting the link to set "Library Links" settings for Google Scholar
  2. using the search box to search for "Portland Community College",
  3. checking the check box that appears underneath the search to select “Portland Community College – Find it @ PCC”, 
  4. and then selecting the Save button.

This will ensure that when you search Google Scholar in your browser, you will see Find It @ PCC links to full text if we have the article (Google Scholar sometimes also provides links to other free sources for full text).

You can learn more about setting Google Scholar preferences on the PCC Library Website