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Introduction to Geographic Research

Reference Resources (on 3rd floor unless otherwise noted)

Encyclopedia of geography terms, themes, and concepts. G63 .H38 2011

Dictionary of Geography, 2nd ed. G 63 M39 1997. (4th and 5th editions online)

What is Geography? ebook

Atlases can be found in the G1000 call number: in the map collection, and the circulating collection.

Encyclopedia of Landforms, vols 1-3. GB 406 .N35 2003

The Handbook of Geographic Information Science, G70.2 H356 2008.

Issues of national importance that have appeared in the news might have been covered in detail in CQ Researcher at one time or another.

Internet & Government Resources

Evaluating Internet Resources: Your topics will undoubtedly have concerned interest groups and organizations with their own web presence wanting to convince you one way or another on the subject. Give the groups a very critical look; be skeptical. In most cases these websites will link to other resources, and so on.

GreyNet International 
Grey Literature: "Information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." This authoritative web resource points you in the direction of publications, mainly in the sciences, from so-called "Grey Literature". Another source:

Google Advanced Search

Voice of the Shuttle. Eclectic collection of links from UC Santa Barbara.

General Government Documents Resources Official search engine for the Federal Government (but also includes state, local, and tribal governments as well). Includes all domain names associated with the government besides .gov

Catalog of Government Publications from the Government Publishing Office. Many online publications directly available from this resource; updated daily.

Search across up to 71 government agencies with MetaLib
Collections include Environment, Science & Technology, Agriculture, Recreation, Travel & Transportation, and Business & Economy. You can also narrow your search to specific resources within each topic.

Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. These reports (CRS Reports) provide a background for upcoming legislation or a current topic of interest. There is no one, single source for them. The Dudley Knox Library has a webpage listing where these reports are found.  Many are now increasingly available in the Catalog of Government Publications.

The Federal Register
Contains notices, proposed rules, final rules, and Presidential documents. In the case of many proposed and finalized rules, a lengthy background of the topic is provided.

National Center for Environmental Information 
NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information (formerly the National Climate Data Center) is the world's largest active archive of weather data.

Developed and maintained by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), this multilingual resource is a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.

Michigan & Upper Peninsula Resources

NMU's Michigan Government Documents webpage and Local & Regional webpage. Also, Portals to the Past: A Bibliographical and Resource Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, by Dr. Russell Magnaghi, has an extensive collection of citations.

USGS "Science in Your Backyard: Michigan".

MSU Extension. And nationally, Extension services have provided non-formal education and learning activities to people throughout the country — to farmers and other residents of rural communities as well as to people living in urban areas. They emphasize taking the knowledge gained through research and education and bringing it directly to the people to create positive changes.

Specific Agencies (with a geographic subject matter?)

USGS Publications Warehouse. Searchable index of materials dating back to 1880. Many are full-text. The website contains additional links to USGS resources.

Fish and Wildlife Service.

National Technical Reports Library.

Treesearch. U.S. Forest Service research database. Includes many non-agency and peer-reviewed publications that pertain to managing forests--water, air, animals, insects, trails, etc.

Agricola and PubAg. Both from the National Agriculture Library and both are worth looking in. PubAg has newer and more peer-reviewed resources.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Census Bureau. And Michigan-specific numbers/data.

Digital collections from the Library of Congress.

NASA's "For Educators" page. Federal, State, and Local geographic data. More links can be found on the GIS Resources page.

Research Tips and Advice, Geography and Otherwise.

Zotero. See the tab above with steps to download the program.

What citation style does your professor want you to use?ChicagoAPAMLA? Zotero can help you with these (they have over 9,500 different ones, 52 specific to "geography"). As neat as Zotero is (and other programs like them are), always check your end results against the proper, authoritative citation style guide and edit appropriately.

Purdue University's The OWL. A well-known and popular website for writing resources.

Citing a map? The Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives has posted a guide Best Practices in Citation of Cartographic Materials.

NMU's Writing Center. It's yours. Use it.

Annotated bibliography: Writing an Annotated Bibliography (University of Guelph), and some examples: Climate Ready Great Lakes: An Annotated Bibliography, and Core List for an Environmental Reference Collection (from the EPA).

Communicating in geography and the environmental sciences, 3rd.ed. G70 H35 2006.

Evaluating research in academic journals: a practical guide to realistic evaluation, 4th ed. H 62 .P97 2008

Writing literature reviews: a guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. H 61.8 .G3 1999

Geography, history, and concepts: a student's guide. Holt-Jensen, Arlid. G70 .H613 1999

Integrating Stakeholders and Users into the Geography Discipline's Research Process. A publication from the USGS. To sum up: remember who you are writing with, for and to.

Critically analyzing information sources. Resource from Cornell. Please consult this and the Evaluating Internet Resources mentioned previously.

Professional Associations, Blogs, and Social Media

Association of American Geographers. Publisher of the Annals of the AAG (G3 .A7) and The Professional Geographer(G3 .P7) .

American Geographical Society. Publisher of The Geographical Review (G1 .G35).

The Canadian Association of Geographers. Publisher of The Canadian Geographer (G1 .C29).

The Geographical Association (UK). Publisher of Geography (G73 .A15).

CataList: The Official Catalog of LISTSERV Lists. Sign up for one or more in your field. As for blogs, Antipode (a Radical Geography Community) has a list of them, and a list of "Geographers that blog (relatively frequently)" from Sam Kinsley--dates from 2015.  From Feedspot, the Top 60 Geography Blogs & Websites in 2020

Perhaps you've found a researcher in your field that has one or has a social networking presence: follow them.

Sign up for publisher alerts through your favorite social networking program, from within a database or directly from the publisher.

Environmental Policy and Regulation

Provides access to a variety of legal information, including federal and state case law, the United States Code Annotated, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, state statutes and administrative codes, and more. Also included are 900 law journals and reviews.

Popular Names of Acts in the U.S. Code. From Cornell's Legal Information Institute.

The US Environmental Protection Agency, Laws & Regulations. And their National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP).

The Federal Register. Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. Environment has its own section. In Michigan, it's the Michigan Register.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports on the environment. These reports, created by the investigative arm of Congress (usually for pending legislation--on any topic), provide an excellent background for a topic. They are not easy to obtain nor are they available from one source and they cover any topic you could think of. From the Federation of American Scientists (Miscellaneous Topics might be the best place to look there), University of North TexasFulltextreportsEvery CRS Report, and a new one from from the Library of Congress. The official source for federal legislative information. Track what's happening in Congress now and see what has happened in the past (back to 1995).

At our state level is the Michigan Legislative Website.

Two Congressional Committees you might want to follow: The House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works. At the state level, the House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation and in the Senate, the Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee. is the official government search portal. A search here is only going to return government resources (at all levels). Or you can narrow your search from the start with a topic on Earth and the Environment.

OneSearch might return too many resources on your topic. You might consider a subject-specific database (Business & Economics, for example).

Additional Library Resources

The Congressional Quarterly Almanac - KF 49 C652 (3rd floor, non-circulating) and online back to the 79th Congress [1945]). An excellent resource that provides some of the backgrounds behind the issues for each Congress. Publication is laid out by topic and Congress (Environment, Climate, and Natural Resources are one of the topics). 

Free resources concerning politics: RollCallPoliticoThe Hill. Covers politics in Washington, D.C. Follow bills, people, actions, etc. A companion to these freely available sources (which is a subscription database) is CQ Researcher (which delves into the background of an issue).

Congressional Digest (Pro & Con Online). Offering an "impartial view of controversial issues" since 1921. Requires your NMU username and password. This also delves into the background of an issue. Once inside this resource, I recommend using the Index (chronological or by topic) to obtain your topic.

The Environmental Law Reporter. NMU does not subscribe to this journal, but you can get a peek at it through the publisher's website. Articles can be requested via interlibrary loan.


You will no doubt use your favorite search engine to locate resources. What have you really found? Is it worthwhile for your research? Give the resource a closer look at using these internet evaluation questions. Use every trick you know to determine the validity of a website you find. There are going to be some very strong opinions (as opposed to fact) and deep pockets behind these websites.

From Harvard is a Think Tank search engine. They have selected over 1200 of them for inclusion.

News sources: Environment News ServiceEarth TimesSociety of Environmental Journalists,

Environmental Law resources from Justia's Virtual Chase.

MLA citation style guide. For legal citations, MLA recommends The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. CUNY has a .pdf to assist with this.

Most of you took GC205: Research Methods in Geography. Much of what was taught then is relevant now (annotated bibliography, your same topics [if you're using them] and the research techniques).

Environmental Impact Assessment

"There is more than one place to look for these, and no one source is perfect"

*Locating Environmental Impact Statements Online 

General Sources

Catalog of Government Publications 
In their Advanced Search, use the following: "final environmental impact statement" OR "final EIS". Publications are sorted new to old, and if any are online, the URL will appear off to the right of the record. You can search the Olson Library catalog in the same fashion, although our physical holdings of EIS's are small and of a local nature. search, the official web portal to the U.S. Government, will search all Federal agency websites (as well as state and local government websites). The results may not always lead to an actual EIS. Also, search with the phrase "final EIS" or even perhaps FEIS. Clicking on this link will automatically search for "final environmental impact statement".

Federal Register Search
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. Announcements of and ways to view environmental impact statements are made frequently. The link is set to search for "final environmental impact statement".

Specific Agencies

All Federal agencies can issue an EIS (and each probably has a slightly different way of writing them), but the agencies listed below are your best bet.

Environmental Protection Agency’s National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)
Go to the advanced search screen, search using "final environmental impact statement" (or "final EIS" in a separate search)-don't forget to select exact phrase. Uncheck the "Hardcopy Publications" box. You might also need to select additional dates. Documents can be downloaded in .pdf.

An additional EPA search tool is the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Database, which has documents from 1987 onward.

Department of the InteriorDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Energy.
For each of these agencies, conduct two separate searches in the search box: “final environmental impact statement”, “final EIS”. The results will appear to mimic those of the search, but will contain additional resources.

And look locally or regionally--websites for the state, a local city, township, or county: do they have an EIS available online for a proposed, current, or finished project?

The EPA has instructions for obtaining an Environmental Impact Statement from elsewhere off their National Environmental Policy Act website.

A Citizen's Guide to the NEPA: Having Your Voice Heard.  Small publication that provides an explanation of NEPA, how it is implemented, and how people outside the Federal government — individual citizens, private sector applicants, members of organized groups, or representatives of Tribal, State, or local government agencies — can better participate in the assessment of environmental impacts conducted by Federal agencies.

Environmental Impact Statement Writing Resources--Federal and State

The Environmental Style: Writing Environmental Assessments & Impact Statements. From the U.S. Department of Energy. And a similar webpage from the National Parks Service. The Fish & Wildlife Service has guidelines as well.

Michigan DOT Environmental Impact Statement process.

California Department of Transportation EIS Guidelines.

Considerations for impact reporting from the Alaska Sea Grant.

Very specific information on Environmental Impact Statements from The Depleted UF6 Management Information Network from the US Department of Energy.


Zotero is a free research manager which helps you collect, organize, and manage your sources. This application works with Google Chrome, FireFox, & Safari web browsers, and integrates with word processing programs such as MS Word & Google Docs. Zotero facilitates quick in-text citing, and one-click generation of references according to a multitude of styles including APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, & journal-specific.

Creating an account on Zotero's website allows you to sync your collections to a central point (300MB free) from multiple computers (such as work & home). It also allows you to create groups. 

Minimum operating system requirements for Zotero version 5.x:

macOS 10.9 or later
Windows XP SP2 or later

The following steps will walk you through how to install Zotero on your browser.

Save documents & close all programs other than web browser before proceeding

Rationale: In order to finish the installation. Zotero may need to reboot your computer.

Rationale: The Zotero Connector which allows downloading information from the browser into
Zotero only works with these versions of the browser:

Chrome: Version 55 or higher
FireFox: Version 52 or higher

Once you have opened Firefox, you need to check that it is version 52 or higher. To do this, go to 
the menu heading Help, and select "About Firefox" (see screen shot below). If it says you have a 
lower-numbered version, Mozilla will automatically download & install the latest version of FireFox.


Image showing the "about firefox "button

Google Chrome
Once you have opened Chrome, you need to check that it is version 55 or higher. To do this,
go to the upper-right corner and click on three dots (see screen shot below), highlight Help, and select 
"About Google Chrome". If it says you have a lower-numbered version, Google will automatically 
download & install the latest version of Chrome.


Image showing the "about google chrome" menu option in google chrome.

Once you have the latest version of your browser, open it, download Zotero and install the program. The 
download interface automatically recognizes your specific browser and operating system and provides 
the appropriate choice.

If you receive a message preventing this site ( from installing software on your computer, 
click on the Allow button.

Proceed through the Setup Wizard. When asked about Setup Type (screen below), we recommend choosing Standard. You will be able to customize it later.

Image showing the setup type option on the zotero installer dialogue.


Once installed you will be prompted to Reboot your computer (see below). 

Picture showing the reboot option screen of the zotero installer

After you click on Finish, your computer will reboot.

Open your browser & go to the Download page to install the Connector. The download interface 
automatically recognizes your specific browser and operating system, and provides the 
appropriate choice.


image of a page linking the zotero connection for google chrome download.

This plugin allows you to create a bibliography, in-text citations, and footnotes or endnotes from within word processing software. 

Note that Zotero version 5.x automatically installs the plugin for Microsoft Word.

Open Microsoft Word, and click on the Zotero tab to display tools:

image showing Zotero's Microsoft word toolbar plugin.

Using Google Docs? No plugin required. Click here for Zotero support documentation.

Using LibreOffice? Click here for plugin.

You do not need to register your Zotero account but you may want to do this at a later date as there are a
number of advantages including the ability to sync your citations to the Zotero site, allowing you to 
access them from any computer at any time.

Zotero is a free Web application developed for Firefox, Chrome, & Safari web browsers that allows you to quickly cite in-text and format references in a multitude of styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.). Zotero allows you to collect, manage, cite, and share references you've collected for your research.

This guide will walk you through modifying the Preferences tabs screens to configure Zotero.

Important: This guide is intended for users who have just installed Zotero for the first time.

If you already have entries loaded into a past Zotero installation, we recommend you backup your Zotero folder before proceeding, and then after completing customizing, copy your old Zotero folder to a new location on either the Desktop or in Documents.

Please connect to the Internet while configuring Zotero.

If you have not yet downloaded and installed Zotero, please see the Library's Installing Zotero guide for directions with screen shots.

Please Skip this step if your Zotero already contains entries!


You need to decide where to save your Zotero files & retrieved articles. We highly recommend saving to either Documents, or to the Desktop (makes it much easier when migrating to a new computer or quickly backing up), so the first step is to create a New folder in that place & name it: Zotero To access the Preferences settings, open Zotero, then click on the Edit menu choice, and select Preferences:

Zotero pereferences page

Advanced tab -- Files and Folders sub-tab

Under Data Directory Location, click on the Choose button and select the newly-created Zotero folder which appears on your Desktop.

Zotero directory selection image


Zotero will add the information to the screen similar to above, but with your username.

You will be prompted that it must re-start Zotero.

Modify OpenURL Custom Resolver:



[either copy & paste, or right-click & Copy link address & paste]

Advanced tab image

On the General tab you may adjust the User Interface Layout, Font size, & Note font size (recommendations below).

A new feature in Version 5.0 is selecting the Layout (red outline below):

Standard Layout displays a selected entry on the right side of the list of items.

Stacked Layout displays a selected entry underneath the list of items.

All boxes are checked by default.

New to version 5.0.36 are changes to indexing PDFs, which is now automatic--no separate installer needed.

Zotero layout options


Only use if you plan on creating an account & using storage on Zotero server for yourself or group work.

Sync is also beneficial if you are using multiple computers (e.g., work & home) to manage sources.

Enter the username & password used when you created account on Zotero web site.

Note that Sync does not replace making regular backups of your local Zotero files, and cannot be used to restore your Zotero files if your hard drive is damaged or requires re-imaging

Image of sync option

PDF Indexing is a feature which allows you to drag-and-drop previously downloaded pdf files into Zotero, and then have it search for metadata on that file & create an entry for you.

As Zotero facilitates creating your own "library" of sources, enabling PDF Indexing will include those sources when searching within Zotero.

Beginning with Zotero version 5.0.36, this screen shows indexing statistics.

This is another area where you should set the Default style you will use. Note that you may always change the default. Under the Default Output Format, click on the drop arrow to change style.

Image of zotero default format preferences


There are over 9,000 citation styles available for Zotero including many styles based on individual journal titles. Zotero only comes configured with the more popular styles but you may add any of the other styles while inside of Zotero.

After clicking on the Cite tab, click on the Styles sub-tab.

Next, locate the style from the list & click on it to select.If you do not see your specific style, click on the Get additional styles... link (see screen shot below) which will open the Zotero Style Repository, and search for your style. Left-click on the style name to select, which will then load that template into Zotero.

Zotero get additional styles button

Citation Options - Real important especially for APA, MLA, & Chicago styles

Check the box next to the label: Include URLs of paper articles in references.

 Zotero include URLs in citation

It is highly recommended using the classic insert citation interface. So on the Word Processors sub-tab, 
check the box next to the label: Use classic Add Citation dialog

image of word processors options in Zotero

Important: You MUST click the OK button to save all changes.

You are now ready to use Zotero.

As with most things, Zotero is not perfect. Always check your citations for accuracy. Zotero will not correct data or capitalized titles for instance. Be sure to check the data for each citation. You can always edit the citations in Zotero.

Connect from Off-Campus

Library electronic resources are meant to be accessed while on the LTE or NMU campus network.  If you are home for Thanksgiving Break or at a conference in Washington DC, and using an internet provider other than NMU, you will need to use the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client (otherwise known as a VPN client) to access Library e-resources.

The VPN client is installed on all NMU computers (Windows & Mac). If using a personal computer you can download the software from the links below.

After logging onto the VPN client with your NMU ID and password, you are assigned an IP address associated with NMU.  To any website you visit it will appear you are associated with NMU.

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