ENSC 105W: Library research guide


If you need help, please contact Holly Hendrigan, Liaison Librarian, Faculty of Applied Sciences at 778.782.8023 or holly_hendrigan@sfu.ca or Ask a librarian.

This page is intended to help you with your ENSC 105W assignments. You can also refer to the research guides for Engineering Programs  and Computing Science for general information. 

Slides from the October 12 research presentation

Evaluating Information: the SIFT method


Investigate the source

Find better coverage

Look for trusted work

Identify words for your search:

What words will you use to search for information? On your essay question, what are the most important concepts? What are other terms that you could use for them? 

Background sources

A. Encyclopedias

You should begin your research by looking for background information on your topic. This information is often found in reference books (e.g., encyclopedias, handbooks). 

The reference books that are useful to you will really depend on your topic. Here are some online reference books that might include background information on your topic:

B. Books

Books and book chapters--especially their introductions--can be very useful as background sources. 

Use the default search on the Library home page ("Library Search") Books will appear in the middle column. 

Specific Titles: You may also wish to narrow your search to our technical e-book collections, such as: 

Oxford Very Short Introductions provides readers with a quick and accessible entry point to a wide range of subject areas -- including science, history, philosophy, sociology, and more

Current Events

Google News

Canadian Newsstream
CBCA Complete Includes articles from many Canadian newspapers, popular magazines, and scholarly journals.


Statista  Statistics portal that integrates statistics from thousands of sources, on topics related to business, media, public policy, health and others. 
Data & statistics information (SFU Library guide) Selected resources are drawn from national agencies, intergovernmental organizations and other official sources of statistics.
Grey literature (SFU Library guide)  Information grey literature sources, which often collect and publish statistics

Analysis/Opinion/Opposing Viewpoints

General Interest Magazines (The New YorkerThe TyeeThe WalrusThe AtlanticSalonSlate). Search within websites themselves. If/when you hit a paywall, search for the article in Library Search.  

Canadian Points of View. A database of essays that present multiple sides of a current issue.

Newspaper opinion columns (See Current Events)

The Conversation.ca:  "an independent source of news and views, from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public."

"Reversals in psychology" blog post: Psychology results that have been irreplicable. Includes research on the Stanford prison experiment, Milgram experiment, screen time and wellbeing, etc.

Retraction Watch: blog and database that tracks retractions in the scientific literature

Research Articles 

Selected databases for journal articles. See SFU Library's Database page for a full list of SFU databases by discipline.

  • Library Search: Left hand column occasionally provides useful resources. Good place to start (but be prepared to search databases as well to increase your chances of finding relevant articles. 
  • IEEE Xplore :A database of worldwide literature in electronics and electrical engineering, computers and control, physics and information technology.
  • EI Compendex : Covers the core literature of engineering
  • Academic Search Premier: Multidisciplinary database articles from a wide range of academic journals and popular magazines. Broad coverage
  • PsychInfo: Premier database for psychology research 
  • ACM Digital Library: Conference proceedings and reports from the Association of Computing Machinery 
  • Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science: A collection of over 1000 online volumes from this core series in computing science.
  • Google Scholar: Search engine that includes scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.

Popular vs. scholarly publications

It is important for you to understand the differences in the type of publications you will encounter. Often popular science magazines will summarize recent reports from the primary scholarly literature for the general public. Scholarly publications report on new research or ideas and are used for scholarly communication. Each of these types of publications can be found in print and on the web.

See SFU Library's What is a Scholarly Journal? guide to help you distinguish between popular and scholarly sources. 

For a more detailed overview of the peer review process, see the Library's What is a peer-reviewed journal FAQ.

Citing sources

When citing sources, you will need to use a citation style. For your informative paper, you will be using IEEE style, and for your persuasive paper, you will be using APA style. 

It is always important to cite your sources. Citing your sources allows you to give credit to the original researchers, to point your reader(s) to where you found information, and to show that you know how to correctly cite sources.

Questions about what constitutes plagiarism? Try the SFU Library's Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism tutorial. If you have questions about citing or doing research, please ask a librarian.

IEEE style guides:

APA style guides:

If the document you are trying to cite is not included in either of these APA guides, you should consult the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual.

Writing Resources

SLC writing resources
Writing thesis statements
Book a peer consultation

Further Help

Ask a Librarian
Ask me: hah1@sfu.ca