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AFS 401

A Research Guide for Agricultural & Food Systems 401

Getting Started

Capstone projects require many different types of resources dependent upon what the project actually is. Your project may require you to collect scholarly research, patents, industry information, government data, or some other type of resource. 

Below, I have compiled a list of general resources that you may find helpful.

I have also created individual sections for each group with more project specific resources.

If you need further assistance You can email me. I'm happy to help!

Selecting the Best Agricultural Scholarly Database

You can find scholarly research by searching a large multidisciplinary databases or by a searching smaller, agricultural database.

There are advantages to each database. If I'm really trying to be thorough, I will utilize several databases. 

Note: There may be significant, but not complete, overlap in coverage within these databases.


Best Databases for Finding Agricultural Science Research

The Washington State University Library Catalog (Search It) locates pretty much everything you'd hope to find on a subject. This includes journal articles, books, newspapers, multimedia, extension resources, archival materials, etc. You will get the most search results using Search It.

Web of Science is a mostly STEM database. Although it will return less search results than Search It, they will typically be more scholarly. Web of Science has a terrific interface which allows the user to easily find useful research based on articles they have already found.

Agricola is an agricultural scholarly database. This database will return less search results than the previous two databases, but those results will all be ag. specific. Agricola is maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library. 

If you are interested in what other databases are available to you at WSU, check out this list.

Some Other Useful Scholarly Databases

To see a complete list of the Libraries' research databases, check out the A-Z Database List.

Find Extension Station Research

Extension programs were originally created to provide a means of land-grant university researchers to share resources with farmers, foresters, and homemakers spread across the state (while avoiding the time and hazards involved in travel). A wide range of topics are covered within Extension materials. 


Find Contemporary WSU Extension Resources

You can find contemporary WSU Extension publications via the WSU Extensions Publications website.

Find Historic WSU Extension Resources

You can find historic WSU (and Washington State College) Extension materials in the following locations:

You can find pre-1959 Washington State College (WSC) Extension resources within the library's catalog. 

After 1959, WSC became Washington State University. Those Extension resources can also be found within the WSU Library catalog

Washington State University Digital Extensions Collection - Various Extension publications are compiled within this collection dating back to 1892. The collection is currently being constructed.


Links to External (Non-WSU) Extension Resources

Survey of Digitized Historic State Agricultural Publications — This ongoing project provides an inventory of digitized state agricultural publications via a Google spreadsheet. Links to publication are provided for each state and U.S. territory (listed on separate tabs). Documents are both historic and contemporary. This project is the result of an AgNIC Working Group.

HathiTrust Digital Library - HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world. HathiTrust provides historic extension resources from multiple institutions. 

The Internet Archive ( - Provides resources for many state and Federal extension services.

Journal of Extension (JOE) - Established in 1963, the JOE is the flagship journal for Extension professionals. As a refereed journal, JOE expands and updates research for U.S. Extension professionals and other outreach educators to improve their effectiveness and serves as a forum for emerging and contemporary issues affecting U.S. Extension education 

Find Datasets

A datasset is the raw data that has been collected by researchers and government institutions. There are countless different types of datasets from countless organizations. Helpful datasets pertaining to these projects may include demographic information, opinion and market surveys, soil and horticulture maps, and so much more. 

  • USDA: National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) - NASS conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples. Also see the USDA Open Data Catalog

Find Business and Market Information

Find Business and Market Information

You may find it necessary to understand a company or a market. For more in-depth information regarding this sort of research, take a look at the Company Research Library Guide. 

  • Nexis Uni - Provides information on U.S. and international private and public companies. Info may include: Company description and history, competitors, subsidiaries, size, officers and directors, annual stock price averages, and more.
  • Business Source Complete - Allows you to search company and industry information across popular press, trade journals, product reviews, and much more. Also provides information regarding company and industry profiles. 

Newspaper and Trade Publications

  • Newspaper Source - This database provides selected full text coverage for 245 newspapers, newswires and other sources.
  • Nexis Uni - An excellent source for searching for information within state/regional/US newspapers (including the New York Times) as well as English-language foreign newspapers and foreign language newspapers. 

See also WSU News and Newspaper Research Guide

Find Patents

Find Patents 

Patents are protected rights which has been granted by a sovereign state (or sometimes as intergovernmental organization). Such rights are granted to an inventor and for a limited duration. Patents can often provide detailed information regarding an invention. 

  • Google Patents - The simplest way to search patents. Often includes full texts. 

You can also search the United Stated Patent and Trade Organization as well as the Web of Science Derwent Innovation Index

Find Historic Information

To find historic information, such as images, maps, data, primary sources, etc., check out this WSU library research guide

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