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National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP)

NSCEP – Quick Tips

Scope of the search - What NSCEP is and is not searching.

  • Choosing which search option fits you best

Simple Search

  • Number searching (number structure and browse alternatives)
  • Entering possible year of publication
  • Title searching (why one might not want to use the full title)
  • Creating effective search examples
  • Understanding your search results to refine the next search
  • An explanation of the primary navigation icons and link to main help files

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Advanced Search

  • Benefits when using the advanced search
  • Avoiding common mistakes when searching with this search option
  • Creating effective search examples
  • Understanding your search results to refine the next search

Field Search

  • Benefits when using the field search
  • Avoiding common mistakes when searching with this search option
  • Creating effective search examples
  • Understanding your search results to refine the next search

Browse Online Publications by EPA Document Number

  • Navigatiing within the publication number/title listings and using the find function of the browser

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How to Obtain the Documents You Locate on NSCEP

  • Downloading in PDF
  • Direct printing
  • Printing a selection from a document
  • Ordering hardcopy
  • Alternate availability

Next Steps if You Don’t Locate an Item That You Seek

  • Contacting the Help Desk
  • Searching EPA National Library Catalog, pursuing ILL
  • EPA Library Network, other libraries, government documents collections, etc.


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Scope of the search - What is in NSCEP?

The system includes EPA publications, with more than 7,000 hardcopy titles in stock and more than 35,000 digital titles. The searches look at a full text index of the electronic documents and an index of the metadata records for both the hardcopy and digital titles.

Which search option to use?

Simple: Perform a quick search by report number, title or for broad one word searches.

Advanced: Use keywords, phrases or combine concepts to find documents on your subject. Also control/toggle between other various options to achieve your desired result

Fields: Search by author, publisher, subject, date or other specific fields

Browse Online Publications by EPA Publication Number: Browse lists, organized by publication number, that link to all or selected subsets of documents by various program offices.


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Simple Search

Simple search is best used when you are attempting to locate an unknown document by its subject matter. Use words unique to the documents you are interested in finding to help limit the size of the result list and make it easier to locate a document of interest. The system will use the words you provide to select documents that have the largest number of references relative to the size of that document.

When entering more that one search word in a simple search, NSCEP treats each word as a separate concept and displays documents that contain all of your search words. There is no need to include “and” between terms. To restrict a simple search further, just include more terms or to limit your search terms to words which are sufficiently specific. When possible use uncommon words to retrieve documents with more focused results.

Not all words help in defining what a document is about. For purposes of speeding the locations of relevant documents, these stop or noise words (e.g. the, of, etc.) are taken out of the search string before your search is executed.

Use date limiters to increase the speed and efficiency of retrieving your search results. For example, if you know that the document was published in 2002, only check the 2000-2005 box.

Number Searching: When searching for an item by EPA document number also known as publication number, exclude EPA prefix and any special characters such as hyphens, slashes or spaces. However, you must include the alpha descriptor. For example to search for the document EPA 600-R-04-030 enter 600R04030 into the search box.


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Advanced Search

The primary use of the Advanced Search tool is to control the breadth or narrowness of your search by specifying the relationships between keywords, specifying publication date ranges, and/or setting preferences on how to view results.

Phrase Searching: When attempting to do a phrase search such as air pollutants, be aware that your results will also highlight the terms as individual words and when they appear as a phrase. It may be helpful to use the to browse through the pages of each individual document to find the location of the exact phrase you entered. (To search for exact phrase most effectively, you should use the Advanced Search and select the “exact phrase” option.)

What you are looking for: Enter your search terms or phrases that describe your concept.

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How to look for it: Lets you tell the search engine how to look for your search terms. This is similar to Boolean searching in libraries (AND, OR, NOT, etc.).

  • boolean operators – allows you to enter your own combination of terms in the search box using AND, OR, and NOT.
  • all words - search for multiple terms (similar to AND operator - use when word order is not important)
    ex. risk assessment; assessment of risks
  • any words – search for documents with any of the search terms (similar to OR operator – use to search for synonyms)
    ex. regulation rule ordinance
  • exact phrase – search for multiple terms in exact order given
    ex. acid rain; air quality

Results precision (fuzziness): allows you to search for variations of a word, including plural forms of nouns and different tenses of verbs. Select up to a four character difference.
Example: pollut searches for: pollution, pollute, pollutants…

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Select the dates to search: limit the search to a set range of publication dates.

Control which page will be viewed first: Selecting the first page found with matching search keyword(s) allows you to quickly navigate to the pages on which your search term(s) appear(s).

Document Display Page: click on the following symbols to:
next page icon Move quickly to the first page on which your search term(s) appears,
Bookshelf icon Return to list of titles resulting from your search
Next Document icon Move directly to the next document
Get a Copy icon     Select a method to get your own copy of current document
Hardcopy available for delivery icon Request a print copy; add this item to your electronic bookshelf

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Field Search

The primary use of the Fields Search tool is to allow the user to narrow the search to the key information of interest provided as a description of the document (metadata) within the document archive.

This search may be more useful for identifying specific documents, not by their content, but rather by the metadata fields. As an example, one of the most common instances of this would be to search for a document with certain words in the title.

Fields searching can be combined with a full-text search to locate terms in the body of a document.

In all instances, be careful to avoid common words, referred to as "stop" words. The system will not prevent their use in a query but will generate an error message if they are not removed. When you remove a "stop" word, you will need to add an "and" in place of the removed "stop" word. This will let the database search the field properly. If you do not add the "and" in place of the "stop" word you removed, you will get a ‘No documents found’ result. For example, if you are searching for the title: Compilation Of Air Pollutant Emission Factors, you would type in the title field: Compilation and Air Pollutant Emission Factors.

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The original set of fields included publication number, year, title, and number of pages. In May 2008 additional metadata fields were added. Author, publisher, subject, and abstract are now available for many of the documents included in NSCEP. (Please note, not all document records were updated due to unavailability of some metadata during the update process.)

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What you are looking for: Enter the search text or data that you know – such as EPA publication number, title, publication year, author, publisher, subject, or text that may be in the abstract.

How to Look For It: Fields can be combined using AND and OR, a combination between the fields and the full-text query.

Enter the relevant data into the text box beside of the field category you want to use, set any known or desired date limiters and hit the search button.

Fields can also be combined with an open text query using the AND and OR operators.

Results precision (fuzziness): allows you to search for variations of a word, including plural forms of nouns and different tenses of verbs. Select up to a four character difference.
Example: pollut searches for: pollution, pollute, pollutants…

Select the dates to search: to limit timeframe of publications

Avoiding common pitfalls: Be sure that use of the Fields Search is the best choice for your query. If you have a publication number or there may be a question of the exact phrasing of a title, it may be best to use the Simple Search or the Advanced Search. Entering extensive data into many fields may result in minimal or no results. First try to search on the fields that are of highest importance with the fewest number of words. If the result list is large, then add words until the list is reduced to a manageable size. If this is not an option, due to the nature of the entry, then utilize the other fields and date selections to refine the search.


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Browse Online Publications by EPA Document Number

Several files are available for browsing a list of publications by EPA document number. A list of documents is available for each numbered publication series (EPA publications are assigned numbers based on the issuing office – for example, documents published by the Office of Research and Development are assigned to the 600 series).

There is also a “complete list”, but the file is extremely large, and so it may not be the best place to start.

Browsing by Number: You can simply scroll down the page to look for the number that you would like to locate. Numbers in the lists exclude EPA prefix and any special characters such as dashes, slashes or spaces.

Using the Find Function to locate EPA Document Numbers: Use the web browser Find function (CTRL-F) to enter the document number you would like to locate.

Remember: When searching for an item by EPA document number, exclude EPA prefix and any special characters or spaces.
Example: To find the document EPA 600-R-04-030 enter 600R04030 into the Find box.


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How to Obtain the Documents You Locate on NSCEP

Other formats for obtaining documents are shown by choosing the Get a Copy button ( download options icon ) on a currently displayed document. If hardcopy is available for ordering, the following buttons are displayed:

download options icon with hardcopy

If hardcopy is not available for ordering, the following buttons are displayed:

download options icon without hardcopy

Downloading in PDF: Items that display the button icon - open selected document for online viewing icon can be viewed online. While viewing the item, use Document delivery options’ PDF button ( button icon - display PDF version of document ) to open a PDF version of the document. The PDF can then be saved to your computer.

Direct printing: Follow the steps above to view the document as a PDF. Use the print function of the browser window or PDF viewer to print the full document or selected pages.

Printing a selection or individual pages from a document: If you only need a single page or a few pages within a very large document, you can view the document page directly from the search results list and then hover the cursor over the image of the page that is displayed and use the “Print this Image” function if using the Internet Explorer Web Browser. As an alternative, you can “right-click” the image and select “Print Picture”. If you are using the Firefox Browser, you can “right-click” the image of the page and select “View image” and then print the page image when that is the only thing shown in the browser.

Ordering a printed copy of a document: ordering can be done online or by phone, fax, e-mail or mail.

Online: items available in hardcopy will appear in the Search Results list with a United Postal Service (UPS) (United Postal Service (UPS) icon) icon. Click the Add to Your Collection check-box to the left of the document's first-page thumbnail image. Then clicking the Add to Your Collection button displays your bookshelf (Selected Documents page). Ordering takes place on the bookshelf page. Items available in hardcopy appear on Selected Documents page with a mailing envelope ( mailing envelope icon ) icon. Clicking on the mailing envelope icon toggles the document’s ordering request Select box. (Please note: all items are free, the bookshelf is just a tool for gathering your list of desired publications.)   Begin the ordering process by clicking the Show Order Form button.

Phone: Call 1-800-490-9198 (Speak to an operator Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM, E.S.T.). Leave an order 24-hours a day.

Fax: Send your order via FAX, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
(301)604-3408

E-Mail: Publications Request (nscep@bps-lmit.com)

Mail: U.S. EPA/NSCEP
P.O. Box 42419
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242-0419


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Next Steps if You Don’t Locate an Item That You Seek

Contacting the NSCEP Help Desk/Order Desk: If you experience difficulty in using the search functions or in locating documents that you seek, you may wish to contact the help desk at: 1-800-490-9198

Searching EPA National Library Catalog and borrowing the document or pursuing interlibrary loan (ILL): If a publication is owned by one of EPA's libraries, the library catalog record will contain that information. In the field labeled “Holdings,” there will be a four-letter code that represents the owner library. The name of the library is also written out below the holdings information.

EPA staff may check items out from their local EPA library, or request a publication via Interlibrary Loan from another EPA library. Members of the public can request publications via Interlibrary Loan by working with a public, university, government or corporate library in their area. Contact EPA National Library Network for further information or to pursue access to those collections.

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