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Information Literacy Research Skill Building: Agricultural Sciences

This guide contains information literacy instructional materials based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

Agricultural Sciences

Disciplines related to Agriculture and Food Science Viticulture, horticulture, chemistry, biology, mechanical and civil engineering, marketing, sociology, education




Agriculture is generally accepted to mean the cultivation and production of plants and animals useful to humans.Food science and nutrition involves the extension of this concept to include the preperation of these products for consumption by humans or animals.

The agricultural and food sciences are, in most respects, applied sciences and technologies. They build on the basic sciences, especially biology and chemistry, and on areas within the fields of engineering, especially mechanical, civil, and chemical. But they also build on areas within the social sciences, like economics, marketing, sociology, and education. For that reason, we can consider this field of study to be very multidisciplinary.

Information in the above section is adapted from: Information Sources in Agriculture and Food Science, edited by G.P. Lilley. London: Butterworths, 1981. And Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2d edition, unabridged. New York: Random House, 1987.

Characteristics of Agricultural Literature:

The literature of the agricultural sciences includes the generally recognized primary and secondary scientific literature. There is also a large volume of literature developed for the public in general. Much of this last group is often considered ephemeral but it has value to agricultural scientists and practitioners both for current applications and for historical information.

The U.S. Interagency Gray Literature Working Group, "Gray Information Functional Plan," 18 January 1995, defines gray literature as "foreign or domestic open source material that usually is available through specialized channels and may not enter normal channels or systems of publication, distribution, bibliographic control, or acquisition by booksellers or subscription agents."

To access "Gray Literature", try the "U.S Government Science Information " webpage.

G.P. Lilley groups the agricultual literature into four groups:

A. Ephemeral: [short lived]
  • local and national newspapers
  • farming press
  • press releases
  • market reports
  • weather reports and forecasts
  • disease intelligence reports
To which we now must add Internet sources and WWW sites.

B. Enduring, non-scientific:
  • statutory and official publications (e.g. legislative, official statistics, approved lists)
  • publications from agricultural bodies, product manufacturers and the trade
  • popular articles, reports, reviews, books
  • advisory publications (e.g. leaflets, bulletins, extension circulars)
C. Enduring scientific primary:
  • technical notes, specifications and patents
  • theses and dissertations
  • reports and research bulletins
  • conference proceedings
  • scientific research papers
D. Enduring Scientific secondary:
  • textbooks
  • reviews and monographs
  • reference books
  • bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts

Some of these publications, e.g. A(1,3,4), B(2,4), are not consistently included in the secondary indexes and bibliographies and may be difficult to locate (see "Gray Literature" above).
Link to Humanities databases

How can I apply this information?
Consider that the WSU Libraries provides you online access to online Agriculture
indexes, ejournal collections, ebook databases, encyclopedias & dictionaries, and more.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us