Ann Watkins
May 15, 2009
Learning Tools: Class Guides: Dana Class Guides:
How do I Grow ...
Prof. John Crow

How do I get started?

The first step in finding information is to develop an overview of your subject. This overview will help you structure your search and identify appropriate resources. Encyclopedias might be a good place to start. There are two sets for gardening in the Reference Room.

Everett, Thomas H. The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture. New York: Garland, c1981-c1982.
REF SB 317.58 .E94
The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. London: Macmillian Press; New York: Stockton Press, 1992.
REF SB450.95 .D53 1992

You can also get some general information on cultivation from national associations' web sites. The American Horticultural Society has a good collection of these groups. If a group for your plant is not listed, try a Google search with the plant name and .org. This domain will limit the results to non-profit agencies.

How do I locate books?

The library catalog is the locating tool for books held by the Rutgers University Libraries. The most successful technique in searching for your paper topic might be a SUBJECT keyword search. Some plants are listed by their common names and others by their scientific name. Try using the common name and let the library catalog guide you to the appropriate subject heading.

If there are no books on your plant, there might be some appropriate chapters in a book on a broader subject. Finding this subject is very difficult using the library catalog. Please stop by the Reference Desk to consult the Library of Congress Subject Headings list. Entries for your plant name will include the broader subject. The next stop would be to search the library catalog using this new term. For example, there is no subject heading for umbrella plants and no books listed for the subject, gardenias. Books on the broader subject, House plants, might be helpful.

A guide (in Microsoft Word format, 30 KB) is available with more information for searching the library catalog.

How do I find journal articles?

Indexes are organized to help you find articles on your subject. Academic Search Premier includes articles from scholarly journals as well as some popular journal titles and newspapers. Since the index has so much content to search, you might select Advanced Search to enter up to three search terms. It might work best to combine your plant name with a second idea such as cultivation, light or soil. A pull-down menu has a list of the Boolean operators you can use to show relationships between the ideas. If you find you're retrieving a lot of extraneous articles, use the pull down menu next to your plant name to select "SU Subject". There is an online guide available with more information on searching Academic Search Premier

There are two other indexes, Agricola and CAB Abstracts, that might have appropriate articles. Agricola comes from the National Agricultural Library although the content extends beyond crops to include all plants. CAB Abstracts also includes information about agriculture and natural resources. The journals in these databases are scholarly. The articles focus on very specific aspects of plant culture. Your search results may be overwhelming and not especially useful. Try including the words, home or garden, to find articles that are more appropriate. Both of these indexes are produced by Ovid. There is a guide (in Microsoft Word format, 170 KB) available for searching Ovid databases.

After you have identified a group of useful articles, you must consult IRIS to see if the University Libraries owns the journal title. The indexes listed above have links right in the citation display that will take you to the location in IRIS where the journal record can be viewed.

How do I cite the books and journal articles I use in my paper?

Dr. Crow has suggested that you use the citation format (in Microsoft Word format, 20KB) recommended by the Editors of the journal Ecology.

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