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CROP/SOIL/SUS 325: Ag and Environmental Predicaments: A Case Study Approach

Guide to support literature searching for students in OSU's CROP 325, SOIL 325, SUS 325.

Where should I look for sources?

I want to... Where should I start?

Get a broad overview of what's available on a topic (both scholarly and popular viewpoints).

Questions to guide your search for background literature

1Search (OSU Libraries)

Google Scholar



Find information on current events. Learn about popular perspectives or controversies.

Questions to guide your search for stakeholder perspectives

News Databases & Newspapers

Google News

Explore the literature in a specific academic discipline (e.g., Crop & Soil Science). Find scientific reports based on rigorous research.

Questions to ask about methods

Questions to ask about data

OSU Libraries Databases

Research Guides for Specific Disciplines

Find demographic facts, figures, or statistics, including opinion polls.

Facts & Figures

Government Information

National Agricultural Statistics Service

Find statutes, laws, cases or other legal information  Legal News and Cases databases

Questions to guide your background literature search

  • What is the main idea?
  • What kind of research has been done on this topic?
  • What do I need to learn more about?
  • What language or special terms do people use to describe this topic?
  • Do I know what all of this language means? (if no – look it up)
  • Is there current research on my topic?
  • Is this topic still under discussion?
  • Is there enough here for me to keep going?

Questions to guide your search for stakeholder perspectives

  • Who are the stakeholders? What organizations do they belong to?
  • What kind of arguments do they use?
  • What concerns do they have?
  • What evidence do they use to back up their arguments?
  • Have they used legal means to try to make changes?

Questions to ask about methods

  • What method do they describe?
  • How and where do they do the testing – in vivo/in vitro, observational, in a lab, in a greenhouse, in the field?
  • What are the research questions – what are they observing? E.g., human behaviors, plant disease response, ecosystem-level changes
  • What large is the sample size?

Questions to ask about data

  • What are they describing overall, is this a reasonable way to get at that information (e.g., greenhouse studies, observational studies)?
  • How are they presenting the data?
  • Does this data make sense based on the methods used?
  • How does this specific information relate to your larger questions?