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Safety 493: Air Pollution: Air Pollution Disaster assignment
An online research guide for use with Prof. Vosburgh's Safety 493 class
In researching a historical incident like this one, it is important to understand the difference between primary and secondary resources.
Recorded by people who experienced events firsthand
Recorded sometimes months/days/years after the events
Benefits: Immediacy. "Raw details" of event that provide fodder for later analysis.
Drawbacks: Often inaccurate or incomplete picture. No long-term perspective.
Benefits: Long-term perspective usually allows more indepth analysis of effects, significance, etc.
Drawbacks: Events are sometimes clouded by bias or agenda.
Examples: Photos. Video. Diaries or journals. Interviews. Newspaper accounts of survivors/witnesses. Social media. (Some) books.
Examples: Scholarly journal articles. (Most) books. Many popular magazine and newspaper articles. Some video.
Depending on your disaster, you may find many primary and secondary sources just via Google. But if so, try to use sources that focus on the air-quality issues surrounding the disaster. In addition, you need to evaluate carefully whether web sources are reliable -- anybody can post anything on the web. Look for indicators of reliability such as:
Named authors, preferably authors with a background in safety/health/pollution/environment/etc., or a respected organization as an author (e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency)
Being authorized or presented by a known-reliable source (e.g. established news sources, government agencies, statistics-collecting agencies)
Naming the sources of the information (other researchers, identifying who took the picture/video, identifying a survey or statistic)
Look at the date of publication -- these are historic events so current date is not as important, but the date can be a clue whether you're looking at a primary or secondary source
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times is a full-image archive that brings you the entire historical run of the newspaper from 1851-2016. The database delivers every page of every issue from cover to cover, with full-page and article images in downloadable PDF.
ProQuest Newsstream offers access to the full text of over 1300 newspapers, news websites, and blogs from leading publishers throughout the world. It includes backfiles for most newspapers, providing access to articles, columns, editorials, obituaries, and features published in each paper.
JSTOR is multidisciplinary electronic journal archival project which provides full-text access to complete runs of back issues of scholarly journal titles.
Partial funding for Collections V and VI from the Russell Moratz estate. Partial funding for Collection VII provided by Student Technology Fees.
Secondary analysis could come from multiple different perspectives -- for example, how did the Krakatoa disaster affect people's health, geologic understanding, urban development, agriculture, government's role in citizen safety, etc.... the options are endless.
Thus, your secondary sources will be most helpful to you if they look at it from a safety and health perspective, as specific to air quality as possible. Try the databases below for health, environment, or business-related perspectives:
Environment Complete offers full text articles and e-books in the applicable areas of agriculture, ecosystem ecology, energy, renewable energy sources, natural resources, marine & freshwater science, geography, pollution & waste management, urban planning, and more.
Partial funding provided by Student Technology Fees.
ScienceDirect provides full-text access to hundreds of Elsevier's peer-reviewed journals, and indexes thousands more, in the areas of physical sciences and engineering, life and health sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.
Films on Demand is a streaming video library offering access to over 38,000 titles covering a wide range of academic subjects. Content includes documentaries, lectures, instructional/curricular videos, and historical primary source videos.
Partial funding provided by UW System Shared Electronic Collection.