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GEOG 240: Human Dimensions of Climate Change

A guide for finding data for assessing climate change impacts for the GEO 204 project.

Finding, Evaluating, & Citing Sources

The links and resources on this guide are not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is likely that you will find other sources on your own in addition to these. There are many reliable data sources available on the Web, but there are other sources as well that may provide inaccurate information either intentionally (e.g. biased agenda) or unintentionally (outdated).

The key is knowing how to find, evaluate, and utilize sources effectively.  All types of sources need this level of scrutiny, whether in print or online, whether text-based or data sets.

The information in the modules below addresses aspects of these three critical elements of being savvy consumers of information.

Finding Sources

Tips for finding:

  • Library resources (e.g. journal and newspaper subscriptions, books, government documents)
    • 1Search (available from the library home page is a good general starting place for all types of materials)
  • Websites (for data, organization and governmental documents)
    • This guide
    • Use the search engine of your choice
      • Know its limits
      • Become familiar with its features for help improving your search results

The above describes two common methods for beginning your search - when you are in a phase of discovery.  However, you may already have some sources you know exist, but need to find a "known item." 

  • References in your textbooks
  • Supplemental readings
  • References cited in the supplemental readings

To find known items, I recommend starting with 1Search, and trying the advanced search or the A-Z journals list:

The 1Search Advanced Search lets you fine tune your results from the start. You can also refine your results after running a search:

  • Which field (e.g. book or journal title if you know the specific item you're looking for)
  • Years of publication
  • Material type, and more


Evaluating Sources

As you are finding resources you want to review them with a critical eye, particularly if you found them via a Search Engine and are unfamiliar with the source.

Librarians at CSU Chico developed the CRAAP test for evaluating resources. CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose.

Take a few minutes to remind yourself of ways in which to evaluate sources by reviewing the criteria included on the CRAAP test.

Citing Sources

The Library How-To Guides provide an excellent place to look for help with citing sources - whether for websites, books, or articles.

Do remember that it is critical to cite your sources. Reasons to cite sources include:

  • giving credit to those that have contributed to the conversation ahead of you
  • letting others know how you developed your thinking and conclusions about the topic (and so they can follow the trail back to the sources)

And all materials should be cited. Just because a work is freely available, does not mean the above rationale does not apply.