The bibliographical database called "Environnement / Social Sciences Bibliography" (BESS) has since 1989 been managed within the FMSH by the Documentation and Liaison Unit on Ecodevelopment (UCLE in French) in cooperation with the International Center for Research on the Environment and Development (CIRED / EHESS), affiliated with CNRS-UMR 8568 and the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural des Eaux et des Forêts (ENGREF), the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).
The BESS was set up at the request and with the support of the Interdisciplinary Program for Environmental Research at the CNRS (PIREN in French). It has also received past support from the Ministery of the Environment and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME).
Its objective is to make available to researchers, research coordinators, teachers, and students information about published and unpublished social scientific research works prepared in France or in Francophone countries that address environmental questions. Work published by French researchers in foreign languages, namely English, are also cited. A tool for spotting current, emerging, or unexplored topics, this base also seeks to play the role of a memory by making it possible to retrace the evolution of certain research questions, topics, and methodologies. Currently, the BESS uses both paper and electronic publishing formats.
As of now, the BESS covers the following disciplines: anthropology and ethnology, law, ecology, economics, geography, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology and political science, and multidisciplinary domains. It currently has 14,000 reference documents. These include research works (books, reports, theses, journal articles, papers given at colloquiums, working papers, online texts, etc.) by French researchers (or other Francophone countries) and their foreign colleagues if their research has a link to France or Francophone cultures. In most cases, these researchers are affiliated with a university, research organization, grande école, international organization, or other independent structure. Most bibliographic references include synopses. Since 2003, useful URLs are also provided. Topics or geographic keywords are also used and crossing terms makes it easier for users to find exactly the type of information they need.
The BESS was initially created with the goal of publishing the Revue bibliographique environnement / sciences sociales (Environment/Social Sciences Bibliographical Journal). 27 issues were published between 1989 and 2002 when the journal was put online.
For technical reasons, it is currently divided into two sub-bases: one for publications that appeared before 2002, and the other for publications published after 2002. Combining these two bases into one single base is a future goal.
The BESS is part of the Research Network on Sustainable Development in the Ile-de-France Region. It is also classified in numerous database catalogues in the social sciences.
Krystyna Vinaver, EHESS / CIRED