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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Clean Water Fund > Additional Resources > Minnesota Water Research Digital Library > Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions - Table of Contents

1. What is the Minnesota Water Research Digital Library?

2. How do I use the Library?

3. What's in the Library?

1. What is the Minnesota Water Research Digital Library?

What is the Library?

The Minnesota Water Research Digital Library is a centralized, searchable inventory of research relevant to water management activities in Minnesota, with emphasis on publications from the year 2000 forward. From a base of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed scientific-technical publications, the user-friendly Library is expected to grow steadily in both quantity and quality as partner organizations begin curating collections of articles in their areas of expertise. The Library was established with Clean Water Fund money. See the About page to learn more about why and how the Library was developed.

How is the Library different from similar tools?

The Library brings relevant research on all types of water research together in one place, searchable and sortable in Minnesota-specific ways that are helpful to state and local water professionals. Other water research databases cover a single topic such as wastewater, serve as a repository for research by a single organization, or are too broad geographically (e.g., national or global) to meet Minnesota’s needs. Internet search engines may return thousands of results but offer few options for sorting and filtering results to provide useful information to Minnesota water professionals and citizens.

Who is using the Library, and why?

The Library makes it easy for water managers, researchers and research funders throughout Minnesota to find, utilize, share and coordinate decades of relevant research. Organizations that conduct or sponsor water research in Minnesota can use the Library to share research with a broader audience as soon as it is completed, so others can benefit from the information without delay. The Library can empower lake and river associations, agricultural watershed councils, community groups and other engaged citizens by providing quick access to research findings about water issues in their area.

Below are some of the ways Minnesota water professionals have told us they plan to use the Library.

Local water management authorities in cities, townships, counties, watershed districts, and soil and water conservation districts can use the Library to find and examine current research on best management practices when planning and implementing projects to restore and protect water resources. Quick access to the latest research will help accelerate progress toward state and local Clean Water Fund implementation goals.

State agencies will use the Library to centralize information about Clean Water Fund and other state-funded water research projects.

Researchers can use the Library to build on past Minnesota waters research and avoid duplication of effort (for example, by using the Library to develop literature reviews).

Research sponsors and funders can use the Library to identify gaps in Minnesota-specific water research and ensure that the results of funded research projects are quickly disseminated to water managers and others.

Associations and citizens engaged in opportunities for public input can use the Library to quickly access publications cited in public reports such as Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies.

2. How do I use the Library?

How do I search the Library for articles of interest to me?

It’s as easy as entering a search term on the Search Home page and clicking the Search button. Optional, advanced searches with filters are also fast and simple. From a list of publications matching your search, you can view summary data about any publication and in many cases, download or access the full text. 

The Search Tips page provides details, tips and tricks for searching the Library, navigating search results, and understanding the summary data for individual articles. See What’s in the Library for more about the kinds of information provided for each article.

How can my organization participate in the Library?

Agencies and organizations can participate in the Library’s long-term management and growth in several ways. See the Partners page to learn about the Steering Team and opportunities to partner with the Library as a curator, data entry partner, affiliate website, or stakeholder liaison.

How do I suggest publications to add to the Library?

To suggest material for the Library, fill out the form on the Suggest Content page. First, search the Library to make sure publications you’d like to see added aren’t already there. Next, determine if the publications are suitable. Generally, to be suitable for the Library, publications must describe Minnesota-relevant research about water, ideally from year 2000 forward, with a title, author, and publication year.

If you are interested in making ongoing contributions of material to the Library or entering publication data, see the Partners page for information about opportunities to get involved as a curator and/or data entry partner.

How can I receive updates about the Library?

Contact Us to be added to the Minnesota Water Research Digital Library email list. We will send occasional updates about new items added to the Library and opportunities to participate in the Library’s ongoing management and growth.

I found an error or omission in the data for an article in the Library. What should I do?

Please Contact Us if you discover broken links, duplicate records, incorrect data about a publication, or other errors. Let us know if you have information that would enhance an existing entry, such as additional tags (keywords) or a link to a dataset from the article.

I have ideas for improving the Library website. What should I do?

We welcome your input and feedback on the web application. Please Contact Us to let us know what works well and what could be improved.

Consider participating in the Library’s Stakeholder Liaison Group, whose members are invited to provide input and feedback on website features as needed. See the Partners page for information if you are interested in getting involved in the Library’s long-term management and growth.

I encountered an error message. What should I do?

On rare occasions, the application may need to automatically restart. Contact Us if the application is unresponsive for longer than 5 minutes, or if you receive any other error messages.

Are there any costs to using the Library?

Using the Library is free. There is no cost to download PDF files from the Library website and there is never a charge just to click on an offsite link provided in the Library.

Some of the offsite links lead to publisher’s websites where users have the option of paying a fee to access a full-text article. Minnesota residents may be able to obtain full-text articles at no charge through the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). For more information about access to full-text publications see Does the Library provide access to full-text publications?

3. What's in the Library?

What topics does the library include?

The Library focuses on recent (2000 forward) scientific-technical publications relevant to water in Minnesota. Publications are generally suitable for the Library if they describe research on any of 16 water research main topics and the research is highly relevant to water management activities in Minnesota. See Search Tips for a list of the 16 main topics. Most of the research described in the Library was conducted or sponsored by government agencies, university researchers and non-profit organizations. The Library’s Steering Team sets policies related to the Library’s scope and content.

an image of three overlapping circles creating a venn diagram for water, research, and minnesota to describe the targeted subject area of articles in the library

What types of publications does the Library accept?

Most publications in the Library are reports, journal articles, conference proceedings or book chapters. The Library also contains some slide presentations and videos. See Search Tips on searching the Library for videos and presentations.

In addition to publications the Library also includes entries for certain projects – those supported by State of Minnesota funding that have not yet generated publications suitable for the Library. Projects are clearly identified as such in the title. Project entries are temporary and are intended to eventually be replaced by one or more publications generated by the project. See Search Tips on searching the Library for projects.

What types of publications are excluded?

The Library excludes newspaper and newsletter articles as well as advertisements. The Library does not accept items that lack a clear title, a clear author (person or organization), or a clear publication year. Publications that are too far outside the scope of the Library are excluded.

How many articles are in the Library?

In July 2014 the Library contained over 1200 articles. More articles will be added each year. The pace of growth will depend on partner organization resources.

How are articles chosen to be added to the Library?

The first thousand articles added to the Library were selected to be diverse in topic – from arsenic to zooplankton – with numerous entries for each of the Library’s 16 main topics. The articles represent all regions of Minnesota and include research conducted at several different scales.

MDA and partner organizations add new material to the Library as time and resources allow. Partners with expertise in one or more of the Library’s main topics collect articles and curate specific collections– such as articles from a given organization or journal, or articles on a specific subtopic. The Library relies on the professional judgment of partner organizations to ensure the articles collected are relevant. 

Library users can also suggest material to be added using the Suggest Content  form.

Inclusion of a publication in the Library does not constitute endorsement. For more information see Library policies, terms of use and disclaimers on the About page.


Are articles in the Library peer-reviewed?

The Library brings peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications together in one place.

A key objective of the Library is to unearth decades of relevant but previously scattered or hard-to-find “gray literature” so water managers and others can fully utilize this research. (Gray literature is material not published in a peer-reviewed journal or book.) Therefore, a significant percentage of publications in the Library are non-peer-reviewed gray literature, mostly authored or sponsored by federal, state or local government agencies or nonprofit organizations.

The Library does not conduct its own peer-review process. Library articles are not censored or rated based on quality. Instead, we rely on the professional judgment of partner organizations to select articles that are relevant and useful to Minnesota water professionals.

See Search Tips on narrowing searches to peer-reviewed articles.

Does the Library provide access to the full text of every article?

The Library provides users with downloadable PDF files of the full text of as many publications as possible. We are able to provide PDFs for publications in the public domain (such as government reports), publications licensed through the Creative Commons Attribution license, and publications whose copyright holders have granted us permission to use the article in this way.

Whenever we are unable to provide a PDF of the full text of a publication, we provide a link to a reputable external website where the publication can be accessed. Often, the article can be accessed from this link at no charge. For many journal articles, however, the link provided in the Library typically leads to a publisher’s website where users have the option of paying a fee to access the full-text article. (There is never a charge just to click on the link provided in the Library)

Minnesota residents may be able to obtain the full text of articles at no charge through the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). Also, local and university libraries may be able to provide residents or students with full-text publications free of charge.

What kinds of information does the Library provide for each article?

Every article in the Library has a Summary page that displays all of the information we have about the article. This includes data taken directly from the article, value-added information provided uniquely by the Library, and access to the full text of the article itself. See details below and in Search Tips. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are included for every article.

Data from the Publication:

  • Title*
  • Author*
  • Year Published*
  • Abstract (if available)
  • Citation (if available)
  • Journal Name (if applicable)

Value-Added Information Provided Uniquely by the Library:

  • Main Topics*
  • Tags (In addition to any keywords taken directly from the publication itself)*
  • Whether the article is peer-reviewed (yes/no)*
  • Whether the research was conducted in or about Minnesota (yes/no)*
  • Whether the research received Clean Water Fund money (yes/no)*
  • Organizations associated with the article (if not listed as authors)
  • Abstracts and citations (may be developed for articles that lack them)
  • Number of pages (if no citation)
  • Link to offsite file with additional information about the article (if applicable)
  • Link to any known datasets from the article (if available)

Access to the Full Text:

  • Downloadable PDF of the full text (if available)*
  • Link to Offsite File where users can access the full text (if PDF not provided)*