A good way to start your research is by doing a bit of background reading, especially if the topic is new to you.
Doing this initial legwork will help you develop your research question, identify key terminology to improve your searches, and introduce you to related topics or issues. If your topic is controversial, this first step will also introduce you to opposing viewpoints and perspectives.
The library has a large collection of reference resources, including encyclopedias, specialized handbooks, and dictionaries to help get you started.
The short video below will show you how to locate these resources through the library's Summon search interface.
You can also access reference books directly by title using the library's catalogue.
The following are just a few of the horticulture reference books available in print in the library.
The following are online reference books, available off campus with your KPU login.
Books can provide an overview of your topic as well as more detailed information. A book may be an edited volume with focussed chapters by various authors or it may be a comprehensive and general introduction to a subject. Use the index and table of contents to navigate to the section of the book that will be most useful. Most ebooks have a search tool that you can use to search across the entire content for your keyword or term.
The library has a vast collection of both print and ebooks, and the best tool for locating a book is the catalogue.
If you are unfamiliar with searching the library catalogue, check out the short video below.
Wikipedia is a popular place to start your research and will likely be one of the top results in a Google search of your topic. A well-developed Wikipedia article, with its content boxes and overviews, will provide a “road-map” of your subject, identify key terms and concepts, and help you to focus on related and narrower sub-topics. Every article provides links to external references and further reading that can be useful sources for you to follow up. (See Wikipedia’s own policy on Verifiability and its discussion of what can be considered a reliable source.)
However, while it is not quite true that anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, there are concerns about the potential for inaccuracies and misinformation. Unlike more traditional scholarly sources of information, content on Wikipedia is continually changing. For these reasons, your instructors may caution you against using Wikipedia in your research, and will probably discourage you from citing it.
Use this resource to learn more about your topic, and follow the external links at the bottom of the page for credible sources of information.
Open textbooks and other open educational resources (OER's) can provide useful introductions to topics and credible, external links for further reading. They are free to use, and accessible to everyone. The titles listed below are all created by instructors at post-secondary institutions in North America and beyond.
Here are a few that could be helpful starting points for your research.