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Library Subject Guides

Forestry: Assignment research

Guide to Forestry at the University of Canterbury


This page gives you 9 tools for finding and using information for your assignment. Remember to look in the other tabs of this libguide for other subject resources and topic guides.

1. Define your topic

It might seem obvious, but the first step is to make sure you understand the topic. Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question to help you develop a search strategy.

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2. Gather background information

Use dictionaries and encyclopaedias to find definitions and background information. Articles from specialized subject encyclopaedias are authoritative and often substantial.

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3. Think about what information you need

  • How much information do you need? Lecturers often give guidelines on the number of sources you should use.
  • Do you need current information or is older material relevant? Sometimes you might need both, as you might have to give both the historic background and the current situation of a topic.
  • Do you need primary sources that give an original account of research, or secondary sources that are interpretations of someone else's work?

If you don't understand what you have to do for an assignment, ask your lecturer, your tutor or someone at the Learning Skills Centre.

4. Find books

Search the Library catalogue:

  • Check for books on Restricted Loan.
  • Use Title and Keyword anywhere searches to find additional material.
  • When you find a useful title, click on its subject headings to find books on similar subjects.
  •  Browse the library shelves in the classification sequence for Forestry.

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5. Find journal articles

The catalogue lists journal titles, but not the titles of the articles inside the journals. To find these you'll need to search the recommended databases for Forestry.


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If you can't find the kind of information you want on these databases, ask a subject librarian - we can help you choose the right database and the right keywords to use.

6. Find information on the internet

 The internet has a lot of information, but not all of it is useful or reliable. Make sure you check who wrote the page you're on:

  • a government department (.gov or
  • an academic (.edu or or published in a reputable journal)
  • a business (what are they selling?)
  • or Sam Someone?

Use Google Scholar to find reliable journal articles, or the Advanced Search features of Google to restrict your search to results from reputable sources.


7. Evaluate your sources

References recommended on reading lists will already have been evaluated for quality. You'll need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information has an effect on the quality of your assignment.

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8. Cite your sources

 Look professional and keep out of trouble by citing all the sources of information you use in your essay, using the appropriate style.

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9. Write your assignment

See our writing guides page for books which have useful hints for writing on technical subjects.

Visit the Learning Skills Centre for workshops and/or personal help.

Liaison Librarian

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Dave Lane
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