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Earth and Environmental Sciences: Databases

What is a database?

Databases provide access to high-quality peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, book chapters, dissertations and other sources.

These databases have been especially chosen for this subject area.

When carrying out your research for a piece of work, you will need to search more than one database to find all of the journal articles relevant to your topic, as each database covers different journals.


For earth scientists, the key bibliographic databases are:

In addition, for specific research areas:

For environmental geoscientists, the key bibliographic databases are:

For atmospheric scientists, coverage of the core journals is provided by:

For more extensive coverage of the atmospheric sciences literature, also search the following databases.

Key databases

Geological maps

Print Format

The Main Library hosts the Maps and Atlases Collection, which provides:

  • complete coverage of geological maps for the United Kingdom at scales of 1:50,000, 1:63,360 and 1:250,000.
  • an international collection of maps of various types, including geological maps.
  • See Maps and Atlases for further details.

The Learning Resources Centre in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, which is located in the Williamson Building, holds an extensive collection of geological maps for the United Kingdom at scales of 1:50,000, 1:63,360, 1:250,000, 1:25,000 (special areas), 1:10,000 (Manchester and coal mining areas) and six-inch county (for Lancashire).

Electronic Format

Digimap is an EDINA service that provides collections of maps and map data of Great Britain to UK tertiary education. Users are able to view maps through a web browser, save maps for printing, and download map data for use in geographical information systems. There are three specific Digimap collections:

  • British Geological Survey (BGS) maps and data at scales of 1:625,000 (solid and drift geology), 1:250,000 (solid and drift geology), 1:50,000 (solid and drift geology, mass movement and artificial ground), and provides the BGS Lexicon of named Rock Units.
  • Digimap - Ordnance Survey Collection delivers current OS maps and data at scales of 1:1,250, 1:2,500, 1:10,000, 1:50,000, and 1:250,000.
  • Historic Digimap delivers historic OS maps and data, including County Series maps published between 1843 and 1939, and National Grid maps published from 1945 and before the introduction of the Ordnance Survey's digital Land-Line product.

Please read the appropriate Licence Agreement before using the service.

My Learning Essentials

My Learning Essentials logo image

Getting started with subject databases

This resource explores some of the key features of subject databases, demonstrating that while they can initially appear daunting and complicated, they can be as easy to use as any online shopping site

View all workshops and online resources in this area on the
My Learning Essentials webpages.

Other relevant databases

The principal bibliographic services for earth, atmospheric and environmental sciences have been described in the preceding section. This section describes some of the more important bibliograpic services that offer complementary coverage of the literature for specific research topics.

For convenience, a partial summary of research topics is provided in the bulleted list below. The alphabetical list that follows provides further details of these and other services.

Full text databases and data collections

Newspaper databases

The library provides comprehensive access to a vast archive of British and overseas newspapers, including electronic access to many current publications. Newspapers are an excellent primary source research tool, not only providing reports about events and issues but also editorials and letters that can be extremely useful for deeper understanding. Access the Newspaper guide for further information.

What is grey literature?

Grey literature refers to research that is either unpublished or has been published in non-commercial form. The term includes the following types of information:

  • government reports, policy statements and issued papers.
  • pre-prints and post-prints of articles.
  • theses and dissertations.
  • research reports.
  • geological and geophysical surveys.
  • maps.
  • newsletters and bulletins.
  • fact sheets.

British Library

The British Library reports, Conferences and Theses can be searched for through the British Library Integrated Catalogue.

Use these p tags if you need multiple paragraphs

Google Scholar

Google Scholar provides a quick way to search for scholarly literature across disciplines and sources. You can find articles, theses, books, abstracts and grey literature from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other sources.


GreyNet: Grey Literature

Grey Net provides information about grey literature. GreySource Index provides a list of web-based grey literature resources.


Open Doar

OpenDOAR is an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories.



OpenGrey is a multidisciplinary European resource which provides open access to 700,000 bibliographical references of grey literature produced in Europe. It covers science, technology, biomedical science, economics, social science and humanities.
Examples of grey literature include technical or research reports, doctoral dissertations, conference papers and official publications.


Science Gov searches over 55 databases and over 2100 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results. is governed by the interagency Alliance


Social Science Research Network

Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research and is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.


UK International Repository Search

The UK International Repository searches across 130 UK academic repositories. Document types includes Report, Conference Object, Working paper.



Scopus is a user-friendly database covering some 12,000 journals from all aspects of science, technology and medicine, with some quite sophisticated features.


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