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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Environmental Science and Conservation

Need to make a quick citation? Use an on-the-fly citation generator. Just be sure to check the accuracy!

Understanding your audience

To create a compelling story, you might want to investigate these three types of sources:

  1. Popular Magazines to get a view into what the public is reading; use the database Academic Search Premier
  2. Newspaper articles - Start with the NY Times - see this guide then other options
  3. Peer-reviewed scholarly research articles
  4. Government information for statistics and legislation; CRS reports are particularly helpful

Resources for writing

Is it credible?

Stop: Do you know the resource or the website it came from? If you aren't familiar with a source and its reputation, this is your cue stop reading and start investigating. Don't share or use a story, until you've learned more about it. 

Investigate the source: Know what you are reading before you read it. Knowing who is writing the work and why they are writing it is critical to your ability to interpret it. Take 60 seconds to determine where the source is coming from before reading further.   

Find Better Coverage: The claim being made is often important than the specific article or video you are using. To verify the claim, step outside of the story you found and look for additional, trusted reporting about the claim from another source(s). 

Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media: Very often information online is taken out of context. Find the original source of any claims, quotes, and media for their original context.

Sources: SIFT (The Four Moves), by Mike Caulfield. June 19, 2019; Introduction to College Research by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith 2021 

Looking at popular magazines to scaffold information

When starting a research project, it is sometimes helpful to search popular magazines to scaffold information and learn the level of information communicated to a public audience.

The database Academic Search Premier is the ONLY database that will let you search specifically for magazine and trade publications.

Database Search Tools

Target your database search by combining these tools with your strategic keywords.

Using quotes "_____"  keeps words together as a phrase.  Example: "Climate Change"

Using parentheses (_____)  collects like terms.  Example: (Sea or Ocean or Coast)

Using an asterisk * at end of of a word returns all the various word endings.  Example: Flood*  for Flood, Flooded, Flooding

Quick List of Databases for Environmental Conservation

Research databases help you find journal articles and many other types of publications. The best database to use is determined by your research topic. Consult Madeleine or Paulina for help!

Off-campus, log in with your UMass Amherst NetID

The databases listed are in ALPHABETICAL order, not in order of importance to your topic.

CRS Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress.

CRS experts prepare reports to assist members of Congress throughout the legislative process providing background information and data on public policy issues.

How to cite a CRS report APA 7th edition:
Author, A. A. (Year). 
Title of report in sentence case and italics (CRS Report No. xxxxxxx). Retrieved from Congressional Research Service website: URL

Erwin, M. C. (2011). Intelligence issues for Congress (CRS Report No. RL33539). Retrieved from Congressional Research Service website:

Getting started with Zotero

Zotero - a tool to organize your research citations, papers, and ideas:


Create an account, download the tool, and add the Zotero connector to access full functionality.  The web version will sync with the downloaded desktop version.  The web version alone does work but will require some workarounds (add a citation using the DOI) and does not offer much storage for paper pdfs. 

Using Zotero with Google Docs Video (1:18) 

Using a citation manager

Sometimes you need to create a citation on the fly, while other times, your writing will be more complicated and involve citing several items and keeping track of sources.  For this type of work, use a citation manager.

To decide which citation manager to use:  Citation Manager Comparison Chart

The Libraries offer workshops on the different citation managers:  Libraries Events Calendar