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Resources for your research in horticutlure


This page provides a summary of the Library resources and research tools we explored in the HORT 4810 library orientation.

I will keep it up for you for the remainder of the semester. Check back from time to time for updated content. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or if you'd like me to include additional links you found helpful.

Celia Brinkerhoff, Horticulture Librarian

The Literature Review

As part of your applied research proposal for HORT 4810, you will need to include a literature review. Properly done, a lit review is more than an annotated bibliography or summary of research articles. It should situate your own topic or problem in the context of other research being done in the area.

Your lit review should:

  • inform your readers of significant past research in your specialized topic,
  • highlight critical issues areas where research is lacking,
  • or, suggest novel applications that your research is going to explore

Need some tips on how to approach a literature review? See the links below.

Test Yourself: Reading a Literature Review

For an example of a well-written literature review, open this research article published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment. Quickly skim the introduction (the section AFTER the abstract), taking note of how other research is being used as a basis for this study.

Answer the following question.

What is the primary goal of the research described in the article above?

Pick the correct answer.
To examine how intensification of agriculture impacts pollinator decline: 0 votes (0%)
To compare flower diversity as a potential conservation strategy: 1 votes (12.5%)
To evaluate the usefulness of cover crops in pollinator conservation: 7 votes (87.5%)
Total Votes: 8

Bibliographic managers

Before you start your research, put some thought into how you are going to collect all those resources, and what the easiest mechanism will be for recording your comments.

Keeping the metadata about the resource (author, title, URL, etc) together with search terms and tools you used, as well as the notes you might want to make for each, will save you lots of time later.

You may have developed your own system that works for you, but below are two suggestions for tools to help you organize your results. The ultimate goal of your assignment is to contribute to a list of resources that will be shared, so having correct publication information will be critical for others to locate your suggestions.

Zotero is a free browser tool that keeps track of your articles and webpages, and creates citations in several formats. Sign up for a free account, and your personal library will be accessible from any computer with an internet connection.

Use Google Sheets to collect publication details, including the URL, of each item you find useful. Use a column to add your notes with your ideas about why you are selecting the item. It will be easily available to you anywhere you have access to Google Drive, and easily shareable with others.



Other tools to be aware of:

Best Databases

Start your research with one of these databases.

Find agricultural research freely available through the National Agricultural Library's new portal PubAg.

Using Google better

Consider using Advanced Google Search.

  • limit to a particular site ie. Cornell Cooperative Extension (keywords plus; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (keywords plus
  • consider limiting to pdf (keywords plus filetype:.pdf)

Try Google Scholar for accessing peer-reviewed articles and publications on freely available sites and social media sites such as ResearchGate.

When searching from off-campus, go to  Settings > Library Links and add Kwantlen Polytechnic University Library to the search box. This will enable Google Scholar to add links to articles already in the Library's subscription.


Google Scholar Search

Academic networks are also resources for finding pre-prints and other openly-available research, posted by authors.

How to Read a Reference List

Once you have found an article that is related to your topic, it's time to start paying attention to the sources the author has used in their own research. 

Most of the library databases provide links to the cited articles on a reference list or bibliography. These links will either go directly to the article, link out to Google Scholar, or provide another means of accessing the article.

But what happens if you need to track a citation, and you don't have these links?

Click on the question marks in the sample reference list below to learn how to decipher references.