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This assignment asks students to provide an overview of the topic, and include background information regarding the history of the technology, its current state, and future directions. Students are required to outline the controversy without taking a position.
Background information on topics can be most easily found in encyclopedias and books.
- Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology. Fully downloadable. Highly technical
- Gale Virtual Reference Library. Less technical but often useful. Multidisciplinary
- Frost & Sullivan Market Research reports. Search product or technology for market information, including anticipated future use. See this blog post for more details on this source
To find relevant information on your topic in online and print books, use the default search on the Library home page ("Library Search") Books will appear in the middle column.
You may also wish to narrow your search to our technical e-book collections, such as:
Safari Tech Books Online: Includes titles from publishers such as O'Reilly, Pearson, and CRC. Some titles assume very little technical knowledge (eg also includes the "For Dummies" series.)
Springer E-books English Language Collections: Highly technical books that include energy, engineering, and computing science
The library catalogue provides some journal articles, but to conduct more comprehensive and focused searches, you will need to consult databases.
Depending on your choice of topic, you may also find these subject-specific databases useful:
Applied Science and Technology Index
Highly technical. Combine search with terms such as "ethical" / "environmental" / "climate change mitigation"
Publications from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, including books, conference proceedings, journal articles, and standards
Business Source Complete
Indexes journals which examine commodities from economic and financial perspectives
Provides articles on all aspects of the environment: from renewable energy and pollution to environmental technology and urban planning.
Covers ethical and moral dimensions of technology
Multidisciplinary databases provide information from a wide range of disciplines
Academic Search Complete
Covers several different subject areas, including science and technology as well as social sciences. Some of the articles included are not from scholarly journals, and not all articles have the full text.
Includes articles from academic journals and popular magazines. Covers a broad range of topics. Articles from Canadian sources, including some scholarly journals, business magazines, and popular news magazines and newspapers. Good for learning about the 'Canadian' angle to any question.
Web of Science
Articles from scholarly journals in scientific fields.
Canadian Points of View Reference Centre
Provides students with a series of essays that present multiple sides of a current issue.
Make sure you search more than one database, as different databases often contain different collections of articles.
Sometimes a database only provides a citation for a journal article and not the full text of the article itself. If this happens, it is likely that SFU Library still has access to the full-text article, usually through a different database; just look for the Get@SFU icon.
Evaluating your sources
The quality of your assignment depends on the quality of the information sources you use. That's one good reason to think critically about your sources. For a research paper, you need to find scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Scholarly journals are typically not popular magazines, and it is important to understand the differences between them.
One primary difference is in the peer-review process by which articles are chosen for publication in scholarly journals. Before being accepted for publication, articles submitted by academics are reviewed by their peers (i.e., by other academics in the same field of research) for accuracy and quality. Most databases have features that allow you to restrict your searches to find peer-reviewed journal articles only.
Unlike academic journals, where articles are carefully evaluated before they are published, anyone can publish anything on the web. This means the quality of information you find online varies widely and so you should always evaluate your sources carefully.
Writing your paper
There are also several books at the library on writing technical reports and different types of essays.
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.
IEEE style guides: