MSCI 300 Library Guide

Marine Science, Communication and Policy

Getting started

Background reading for possible topics

Do some background reading on your topic to determine whether it's feasible before selecting it for your case study.

The library's reference and book collections can serve as a starting point for learning about the scope and terminology of your topic, and as a way to locate citations to articles on it.

Look up books in OneSearch by author, title, subject or keyword

Check here for a quick list of books on:


coastal zone


fish and fisheries

marine ecology

marine geology

marine pollution/debris

marine resources

ocean acidification


Also consider these as sources for ideas for possible research topics:

Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change

Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals

Gale Encyclopedia of Science

Water: Science and Issues

Locate and read issue papers on your topic that introduce you to the policy implications

Congressional Research Service Reports

CQ Researcher

Resources for the Future

Scan some articles on your topic

Do a preliminary search in the Academic Search Premier database to find and scan various types of articles about your topic:

  • News articles from newspapers and news magazines
  • General magazine articles
  • Scholarly articles from academic journals

Selecting a topic

Based on what you have read during your exploratory searching, consider the following:

  • Can your topic be rephrased in the form of a research question?
  • What did your preliminary literature search tell you about whether your topic is feasible, i.e., not too broad/narrow, an adequate number of scholarly publications appear to be available, etc.?

Researching policy

Policy is created at different levels of government and by different types of agencies and departments.

U.S. federal/national

Issue Papers on Federal Policy

Congressional Research Service Reports

CQ Researcher

Resources for the Future

Federal Laws, Regulations and Legislation (Congressional bills and legislation; was Thomas)

Search Government Publications via GPO Federal Digital System

Additional resources

Westlaw (select the Federal Materials tab)

Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (federal agency publications)

PAIS International (search for public policy journal articles)

U.S. Statutes at Large

Code of Federal Regulations


Environmental Regulatory Documents (from (now includes policy and regulatory documents)

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions (since 2007)

Coastal Zone Information Center (selected federal and state documents 1951-1999)

Federal departments and agencies

Cabinet Departments

All Federal Departments, Agencies and Commissions

California state

Issue Papers on State Policy -- California

California Research Bureau Reports

Legislative Analyst's Reports on Environment & Natural Resources

California Senate Office of Research

State Laws, Regulations and Legislation -- California

California State Legislative Portal

Digital Democracy search for CA bills, videos/transcripts of hearings, speakers and their affiliations

California Assembly and Senate Bills

California Code and Statutes

California Code of Regulations

Westlaw select the State Materials tab

Open States bills and legislation from all 50 states

State Departments and Agencies -- California

All State Agencies, Departments and Commissions

California Coastal Commission


Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA)

Fish and Wildlife (was Fish and Game)

Food and Agriculture

Natural Resources Agency

Water Resources (Dept. of)

Water Resources Control Board

California local and regional

City and County Codes

California Local Codes and Charters

California Municipal and County Codes

City, County and Regional Governments and Agencies

Tri-County Municipal Government links

Guide to California Local and Regional Government


International Agencies

United Nations

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) includes fisheries

United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)

PAIS International (search for public policy journal articles)

Major U.S. Environmental Legislation

Clean Air Act of 1955 1966 Amendments 1970 Amendments 1977 Amendments 1990 Amendments

Clean Water Act of 1972 (amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act) 1977 Amendments

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 2006 Reauthorization

Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 1988 Amendments 1994 Amendments

Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 1980 Amendments 1984 Amendments 1992 Amendments 1996 Amendments 2000 Amendments

Finding articles

Suggested databases

Science Indexing & Abstracting Databases:

Agricultural & Environmental Science Database (includes AGRICOLA and Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management) interdisciplinary index to the literature of agriculture and the environment

Earth, Atmospheric & Aquatic Science Database (includes Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts) marine biology, oceanography, freshwater science, fisheries

Biological Abstracts

GreenFILE environmental science and policy

MEDLINE all areas of medicine and health

Scientific Publisher Databases:

Annual Reviews Backfile authoritative scientific review articles synthesizing prior research

JSTOR Retrospective Journal Collection

Science Direct (Elsevier)

SpringerLink Journals

Wiley Interscience Journals

Multidisciplinary Databases:

Academic OneFile

Academic Search Premier (Ebsco)

Conference Papers Index

ERIC education

Google Scholar

See also the library's Research Guides in relevant disciplines

Policy/Regulatory Aspects:

CQ Researcher

Congressional Research Service Reports

Search Government Publications via GPO Federal Digital System

GreenFILE environmental science and policy

PAIS International

Westlaw (replaces Lexis-Nexis)

Agricultural & Environmental Science Database

See also Researching Policy and the library's Research Guide to Public Policy

Popular Publications, News, Opinions:

Academic Search Premier (Ebsco)

NewsBank California newspapers


Web sites from organizations or corporations

See also the library's Guide to News & Current Events

OneSearch - Articles

Citing your sources

Council of Science Editors (CSE) Style

CSUMB Division of Science & Environmental Policy CSE Citation Guidelines

Scientific style and format : the CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers : REF T11.S386 2006


This guide from the Council of Science Editors (CSE) provides both citation and writing style guidelines for the sciences and related fields.

See also these Web sites for how to cite references using the CSE style guidelines:

Council of Science Editors (CSE) Style Guide from Ohio State University Libraries

CSE Citation Examples from Dakota State University

CSE Style Guidelines from Weber State University Library

Council of Science Editors Documentation Style from University of Wisconsin

Try CSE Citation Wizard from 21st Century Information Fluency to format your citation on the fly. Be sure to check the results carefully.

Citation Management Software

As you are researching a topic and locating literature sources, you may want to consider using a citation manager tool to collect and store the citations and sources, then use it to create your list of references for the paper you're writing. When selecting a citation manager, be sure that it offers central online storage of the citations and sources so that you can get to them from whichever computer you happen to be using. There are a variety of commercial software packages for managing citations and bibliographies, but also two free resources to consider:

  • Zotero is a free download that is locally installed for Windows. MacOS or Linux. It is also available as a plugin that works with the Firefox browser. As of Fall 2013, Zotero has been pre-installed on most of the campus computers. You will need to register for a free user account at
  • Mendeley is a free download that is locally installed for Windows, MacOS, Linux or iOS. Please note that it is not installed on campus lab or library computers, so you will need to install it on your own laptop or desktop.
  • Both services offer free web storage of your citations and documents that can be synced with the computer you're working from. This is the recommended strategy when using any of the campus computers.

Further study

Literature Reviews - An Overview

What is the role of a literature review in research? What's it mean to 'review' the literature? Get the big picture of what to expect as part of the process. This 9-minute video was created by North Carolina State University Libraries.

Your librarian