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Sustainable Agriculture

Resources and tips for your research in Sustainable Agriculture


This page provides a summary of the Library resources and research tools we explored in the AGRI 3225 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, Sustainable Agriculture Librarian

Browse Top AGRI Journals for Ideas

Here are just some of the important journals related to sustainable agriculture that the library subscribes to.

As a starting point to your research, browse current issues for topic ideas or set up a table of contents alert to be notified when new issues arrive.

The Literature Review

As part of your research proposal for AGRI 3225, you 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 Journal of Pest Science.

Flower strips adjacent to greenhouses help reduce pest populations and insecticide applications inside organic commercial greenhouses.

Quickly skim the introduction (the section AFTER the abstract), taking note of how other research is being used as a basis for this study.

Next, jump to the discussion/conclusion sections.

Some things to consider:

  • notice how the opening paragraph sets a broad context

  • how do the authors draw in other research?

  • how do they signal what is unique about this study?

  • where do they suggest more work is needed?

  • what is the larger importance of this work?


Searching the scholarly literature

Here are some of the library's key databases for your work in Sustainable Agriculture. 

The following tools will help you access the Open Access literature related to agriculture and food systems. 

Your Google Scholar results will be a mix of journal articles from academic and commercial publishers's sites (look for the Full text at KPU link), articles from Open Access journals, and institutional repositories.

You may also see results from ResearchGate and, networks for academics to promote and share their research. Use results from these sites with caution as some content may be posted without publishers' permission, or may not have gone through a peer review process.

Not sure if a journal or article is credible? Use the tools on this Predatory Publishers guide from the University of Saskatchewan to help you identify quality information.


Important tip:

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.

See the screenshot below for details.

Once you have defined your research question and done a little searching, you will see that a kind of scholarly conversation is taking place amongst  researchers and writers within a particular field. You will want to take note of what these writers are saying, how they are building on one another's work, and where they agree or disagree. 

 Fortunately, most library databases, Summon, and Google Scholar have tools to help you locate related and citing articles.

Here are a few examples:

In the Summon search results for articles, look for "cited by" and "related articles". These will bring you a list of articles that cite this one, or are related to this one. The Altmetric circle can be an indication of an article's impact using a variety of measurements.


And here is a similar feature in Google Scholar. Click the screenshot below to see the articles that cite this one.




Test Yourself: How Do you Track a Citation?

Found an article on a reference list or in Google, and want to see if the Library has it?

Use the Journal title search box on the library's homepage, and enter the full name of the journal (NOT the article title). If the Library subscribes to that journal, the resulting page will link you to the database where it can be found.

Make sure you know how to decipher a citation!

1. Is the reference to a book? journal article? website?

2. For a journal, you'll need to know the name of the journal, and the date of publication.

3. Enter the name of the journal in the Journal title search, and if the Library subscribes to it, you will be see links to various databases where it is indexed. 


See the References for the Wikipedia page on plant breeding.

Examine the following references and then determine whether the library has them in its collection. 

#8  Deppe, Carol (2000). Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. Chelsea Green Publishing. |page=237-244

#28 Murphy, Kevin M.; K.G. Campbell; S.R. Lyon; S.S. Jones (2007). "Evidence of varietal adaptation to organic farming systems"Field Crops Research102 (3): 172–177. 


Citing and Managing your Research

Get organized! 

Develop your own system of collecting research articles and include initial thoughts about topics, methods, critiques, as you read. This will be easier than trying to do after you have skimmed many articles. Use a Google or Excel sheet and create a table to capture:

  • complete citation
  • research question/topics
  • variables
  • methods
  • results conclusion
  • critiques/weaknesses
  • what did it NOT say? what might it be useful for in your own research design?

Here is an example of a literature review log using Google sheets.


Here is a link to the official source for citing in the style of Ecology. Scroll down to the link " Literature Cited (and other citations)". 

For additional help, see the Sacramento State Library guide to using Ecology Format in your writing.

Information on installing and using Zotero can be found at

Zotero comes automatically loaded with several of the major citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc) but if you'd like to add Ecology to that list, you will need to locate it first in the Zotero Style Repository. Details on how to do this (simple!) with Zotero for Firefox or the standalone version are there as well.

Similar to Zotero, Mendeley is also a free reference manager and PDF organizer. Download it from Mendeley.

If you're trying to decide which one to use, check out this helpful comparison chart from York University Libraries.

Zotero vs. Mendeley Comparison Chart