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Geography & the Environment

Information about doing geography research at the University of North Texas Libraries.


Welcome to the research guide for Geography & the Environment.

This guide is designed to support basic research needs of courses offered by the Department of Geography & the Environment with the aim of addressing major research areas. Because the courses and faculty research interests in the Department of Geography & the Environment are very interdisciplinary, additional guides and resources compiled by other UNT subject librarians are also included here.

If you do not find what you need on this guide, please email Brea Henson, the Subject Librarian for the Dept. of Geography & the Environment for help. If she can't help you, she'll assist in finding someone that can. 

The Research Tips information below was compiled by John Martin, Scholarly Communications Librarian. 

Starting Your Research

Reference Sourcessuch as encyclopedias, handbooks and dictionaries, are a good place to start your research because they provide:

  • background on a topic 
  • historical research
  • potential keywords for your catalog and database searches

Books in both print and electronic format provide:

  • in-depth coverage of a topic, broad in scope and usually historical
  • information that is two to three years old by the publication date
  • indexes where you can check if the book contains your topic

Articles in both print and electronic format provide: 

  • the most current source of peer-reviewed information
  • focused research, narrow in scope
  • literature reviews

Websites must be evaluated for credibility, authority and accuracy before using and provide:

  • the most current information on a topic (but not necessarily peer-reviewed)
  • obscure, hard-to-find information

Maps and GIS sources provide:

  • visual context to the area being researched
  • visualization of large sets of data to reveal trends

Research Tips

Scholarly journal articles are those that are typically:

  • Peer-reviewed by experts in the field.
  • Published in reputable journals from scholarly or professional societies, university or academic presses, or other research organizations (such as government or nonprofit agencies).
  • Indexed in one or more research databases that focus on particular subject areas.

Other types of articles may appear in trade publications, popular magazines, newspapers, online scholarly blogs, or digital research commons. Most of these are not peer-reviewed, but may contain useful information or citations. Some of the databases below include these types of publications, but results can be filtered to identify peer-reviewed publications only.

Primary sources are first-hand source materials that may include observations, data, experimental results, interviews, narratives, case studies, or other original research materials. Primary source materials may include quantitative or qualitative data, and may be derived from clinical, experimental, or field research.

Most journal articles and book chapters are secondary sources that offer analysis, interpretation, or critical responses to the original object of study, including those primary sources of data and observation. They are meant to synthesize, organize, and explain the information found in primary sources.

An empirical study is one that is based on the original creation or gathering of data & evidence, and a subsequent analysis & interpretation of that material. It generally precedes those studies that summarize, synthesize, or organize previous research into a broader analysis.

A literature review is a summary of scholarship that provides an overview of research on a subject. Many empirical studies include a brief literature review, but longer reviews are often published as a separate article or book chapter. In a database search, you can specify "literature review" in your search terms to identify these articles (see pdf link below for an example).

See also the UNT Libraries Literature Review Process guide for more information on conducting scientific literature reviews. 

A systematic review is a more extensive, structured analysis of a large body of scientific literature on a particular topic. It should include a comprehensive, replicable, and fully-documented search methodology that aims to identify all of the relevant literature on the topic, organize it, and evaluate it according to the researcher's established criteria.
This article from Clarivate Analytic's Web of Science offers an overview of systematic reviews and tips on how to structure them. The University of Michigan Library also has an extensive guide to conducing systematic reviews, including a helpful graphic that illustrates the process. The University of Sidney Library has another guide that includes an estimated timeline for each phase of the review.

Links to additional resources:

Additional Links