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ANTH 302 Waste & Wasting (K Doughty)

Finding Secondary Sources

Recommended Databases:

Recommended Journals:

Finding Primary Sources & Grey Literature (Google Advanced Searching)

  1. Try using Google Advanced Search
  2. Google ignores the word AND as a search operator. But, typing OR in all caps between terms will find similar or related terms e.g. ("climate change" OR "climate justice" OR "global warming") (exxon OR ExxonMobile) 
  3. For grey literature, include search terms + terms like (report OR analysis OR summary OR overview OR data)
  4. For primary source material, include search terms + terms like (“digital collection OR archive OR gallery OR exhibit)
  5. Search for a particular document type e.g. search terms + filetype:xls
  6. Search at particular site e.g. OR OR OR OR
  7. Search a particular domain e.g. OR  OR  [See a full list of country code domains].
  8. Exclude words by using the "-" sign in front of the word you wish to exclude e.g. denver (hispanic OR latino) -migrants
  9. Limit to a particular date range using before:YYYY-MM-DD or after:YYYY-MM-DD [e.g. metoo (Dobbs OR abortion) after:2022-06-24 before:2022-06-30]

Locating datasets on environmental issues:

Finding News

Analyzing primary sources

Analyzing a Single Source

When reading a primary source it is important to look at not just it's contents, but an item's physicality.  Here are some guiding questions to answer as you examine a primary source:

  1. Look at the physical nature of your source. What can you learn from the medium of the source? (Was it written on fancy paper in elegant handwriting, or on scrap-paper, scribbled in pencil? Typed?) What does this tell you?
  2. Think about the purpose of the source. What was the author's message or argument? What were they trying to get across? Is the message explicit, or are there implicit messages as well?
  3. What do you know about the author? Race, class, occupation, religion, age, region, political beliefs? Does any of this matter? How?
  4. Who constituted the intended audience? Was this source meant for one person's eyes, or for the public? 
  5. What attitude towards the subject matter/event does the creator of the item seem to impart? (e.g. What tone is set? Are there interesting word choices and what might the author's choice in their use mean? Why was it created and what purpose did it originally serve? What biases may inherently or intentionally exist in it?).
  6. Is it prescriptive (telling you what people thought should happen) or descriptive (telling you what people thought did happen)?
  7. What questions can you answer using this source? 
  8. What questions can this source NOT help you answer? What are the limitations of this type of source?

(example: Ethnography on the role of religious & spiritual belief and practice on climate change
Fair, H. (2018). Three stories of Noah: Navigating religious climate change narratives in the Pacific Island region. Geo : Geography and Environment, 5(2). 

Analyzing a Set of Sources

Guiding Questions:

  1. What questions do I have from examining these materials as a set?  What are the similarities? How do they differ? What greater inferences can be drawn about the about historical context from the set?
  2. What questions or further research might you have? (e.g. Are there thoughts or ideas that could be defined or explained? Is there specialized language or jargon? Are there references to places, events, or people, culture, etc?).
  3. What other primary sources might I look for to help round out the story behind the sources you currently have?
  4. What ideological theories or philosophies can be applied to the item?
  5. How might I compare these sources to other readings and assignments in this course?

(example set: Fair's "Three Stories of Noah" Ethnography, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) Statement on Big Oil's Climate Pledges, 2022 U.S. House Resources Committee report on the role of public relations on climate change, Exxon Climate document set made public by the Climate Investigations Center, tweets from the Twitter hashtag #ExxonKnew, and Global Climate Action data from the UN).