Landscape Architecture

LARC 7250 Landscape Architecture Theory: Research Strategies and Resources

Welcome, About Me

  • I have a BFA in Art & Design, after working in community arts/education for a decade I did an MLIS and joined the UML team to support the faculty of architecture.
  • My favourite part of my job is helping students with their research and learning about their projects!
  • When I'm not at UML you'll probably find me hiking/cycling, making art, or supporting library & information services to prisoners

Today we will look at:


My goal today is to introduce you to potentially new library and internet search tips and strategies for you to feel more confident in library research and what resources are available to you.

  • The research process

  • Places to find resources in the library collection (books, ebooks, theses, conference papers, scholarly journals/articles, and images/video), web resources

  • keyword search tips

  • Library Services during the pandemic

  • Resources Citation in Chicago Style

Research in design practices & research-creation:

Drawing Connections Between the Studio, Theory, & Library/Web Research







Research in design practices & research-creation:

Drawing Connections Between the Studio, Theory, & Library/Web Research







How are the creative

and research processes intertwined and informed by one another in your discipline? For you personally?

Research: Where to Start?

  • Research is non-linear and iterative, get curious and inspired by exploring your topic broadly!

    You may want to learn more about:

    • a specific project, its surrounding area
    • the designer(s), their theories, ideas, goals
    • how other people live with & interact with the landscape in question
    • the broader cultural, historical context
    • research frameworks and methodologies
  • Begin by forming a research question (this may evolve/refine)

  • Brainstorm keywords based on what you know & what Qs you have

    • What do you know about the subject so far?
      • designer or project name, concept/idea
      • style, approach, theory, methods
    • Add new keywords and search strategies as you find information

Internet vs Library

  • Not all information is available on the internet, most scholarly info is not or requires payment
  • Highly disorganized, does not bring up the most relevant or all results (ads, sponsored pages, algorithms)
  • No quality control - anyone can produce content


  • Can still find credible information
  • Some high quality open access content (databases, image/video, and journals)
  • Great for portfolios/websites of designers and blogs or organizations dedicated to landscape architecture.


  • Information is cataloged and can be more accurately searched/retrieved
  • Access to information that exists behind paywalls (journals, articles, databases)
  • Access to primary resources
  • Scholarly and peer-reviewed content
  • Interlibrary loan - document delivery
  • Support from librarians with subject expertise

UM Library Search

  • Very broad search engine - you may receive results from all subject areas (more results if you're signed in)
  • Where you can search all physical resources (books)
  • Content from some, not all, of the library's databases including resources like:
    •  ebooks
    • peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers
    • images (more results if you're signed into your account)
  • Can apply filters to narrow results

For more sources in library search check:

Virtual Browse (books)

Related Reading (articles)

Subject Headings (all content)

  • The bibliography/citations of a work you're looking at can lead you to additional related resources, authors to investigate, or inspiration for more keywords.






For more sources in library search check:

"Citing this" and "cited in this" tool

Subject Guides

Reference Resources


(encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, etc.)

  • Overview of a person, movement, sometimes a specific building

Journal Articles

  • UM Library Search > limit Resource Type to articles and peer reviewed
  • UM Library Search > limit Resource Type to journals
    • ​when you select a journal, you can conduct a search within that specific journal
  • Navigate to the Landscape Architecture Subject Guide> articles tab> for a listing or electronic and print journals, and indexes and databases that host journal articles
  • Browzine: browse and download journal articles, set notifications for new articles
  • Database: The Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals



Conference papers/proceedings

  • UM Library Search > limit Resource Type to conference proceedings

Theses /Dissertations

  • UM Library Search > limit Resource Type to dissertation
  • Navigate to the Landscape Architecture Subject Guide > Thesis tab for a listing of theses resources (mspace, databases)

Images & Copyright


  • Some websites will allow non-commercial use of images for educational purposes such as student projects.
  • Look for images that fall under fair use, or more ideally, creative commons, or public domain.
  • If you're uncertain, the UofM copyright office can help!

Figure1. Wu Mali: Secret Garden, installation at Nan Tou County, Taiwan, stones, flowers and light, 3×15×2 m, 1999; courtesy of the artist, photographed by Roy Lee

Attribution is not the same as legal permission!

  • Correctly citing an image does not mean you have legal permission to use it, when in doubt, always read the copyright statement.

Searching Images/video

  • Library Search - apply filter to limit resource type to images, video
    • If you're signed in this pulls images from databases including Artstor
    • All these results are copyrighted to use for educational purposes
  • Databases 
  • Open Access Image/video resources
  • Images in books, journals, and articles
    • The publication should have at least 9 other images to fall within fair dealing guidelines for copying an image
    • The library and/or UM Copyright Office can answer questions.


Searching the Web

Searching Beyond

UM Libraries

Search Tips


Phrase your topic as a research question



  • Break down your topic into keywords and brainstorm synonyms
  • Try to articulate different ways of expressing a concept that you are searching



  • searching with more keywords = more specific and fewer results
  • searching with fewer keywords = more broad and more results

Search Tips: More Results

Broadening Your Results

  • Using AND to separate two terms ensures that your results will include both those terms: landscape AND phenomenology

  • You can give the search more options by placing similar words in brackets, separated by OR:  (design OR architecture) (green OR sustainable OR eco) (design OR horticulture OR architecture) ( Indigenize OR decolonize)

    • These will cause results to all have at least one of those words in the title, description, and/or the text
  • Wildcard: Add an asterisk (*) to the end of a word to get results that include the root word as well as any possible endings:

Architect* finds: Architect, Architects, Architecture, Architectural...

Christian* finds: Christian, Christians, Christianity...

Note: be careful where you place the *, for example, Christ* would also find: Christmas, Christo (an artist)

Learn at the Libraries: Advanced Search

Search Tips: More Specific  

Narrowing Your Results

  • Place a phrase "in quotation marks" to search that exact phrase or order of words
    • ex. "therapeutic landscape architecture", "social justice", "Julia Watson"
  • Use NOT to exclude unrelated content
    • union NOT soviet - for content about unions but not the Soviet Union




Learn at the Libraries: Advanced Search


Brainstorm some keywords you could use to start a search for this research question


Brainstorm some advanced search possibilities using:

"blank blank", (blank OR blank), AND, NOT, *


(decolonial OR decolonization) AND ("landscape architect*" OR "landscape design*") 


"landscape architecture" AND (decolonize OR Indigenize)


"Indigenous worldview" AND "landscape architect*" 


Indigenous AND (perspective OR worldview) AND landscape


"landscape architect*"  AND canad* AND Indigenous 


"landscape plan*" AND Indigenous


Indigenous AND design AND landscape*

Where could we look for information on this topic? Are there any specific types of resources or places you might try to search?

Pandemic Library Services

Libraries COVID-19 Updates

  • Online/digital services always available
  • Print Books 
    • request to pick-up books from locker
    • request a scan of a book 



  • Ebooks and Digitized books
    • HathiTrust: temporary electronic versions of some print books.

Evaluating Sources


Currency - Is there a date the page was published or updated? How current are the cited sources? Are there broken links?

Relevancy - who is the intended audience?

Authority - is the author a recognized expert in this field?

Accuracy - supported with evidence (citations)? Peer-reviewed?

Purpose - to inform? teach? entertain? persuade? sell? Check the domain (eg: .com = commercial, .org = non-profit, .edu = educational...

Learn at the Libraries: Evaluating

What are your informed parameters and guidelines for determining authority within your discipline and practice?

Identifying Bias

Evaluating a Source for Bias

  • Does the information appear to unfairly favour a group or perspective over others?
  • Is the information misrepresented?

  • Is there other important information missing?

  • Whose perspectives and experiences are included? Whose are excluded?

  • Who will benefit from the information as it is presented?

  • Will the information cause harm or disadvantage another?

In what ways have you examined your own worldview, assumptions, and biases through collaborative and reflective practices?



Data Visualization Resources (infographics, maps, charts, etc)


General Library Help

  • Check the Covid-19 Library Updates page for access current information
  • Use the Ask Us chat
    • This is the quickest way to chat with someone. If you place your question when we're not online live, we will get back to you the following morning.
  • Reach out to Ashley (may take 1-2 days)


Writing, Citing, and Research Support

Faculty of Graduate Studies workshops

  • workshops on citation managers, graduate writing & more

Academic Learning Centre writing/citing workshops


Research Support

  • Subject Guides
  • Contact Ashley for help with search strategies for your topic or assignment, advice on which databases to use, and citation questions

Thank You

Invitation to share feedback on this workshop


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