SEE 101W / 110 Course Assignment Guide


This web page is intended to help you with your SEE  101W & 110 assignments. Slides from Oct 4th presentations: Research Citation.  

Search tips

  • Combine topic with phrase "environmental impact"
  • Too few or too many results? Choose a broader or narrower category. Eg "alcohol" is an umbrella term that includes "beer"
  • When Google searches fail, try the library catalogue or a subject database

Background Sources

Encyclopedias : 
Gale Virtual Reference Library : Multidisciplinary collection of encyclopedias
AccessScienceTechnical and scientific encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies: An authoritative assessment of the sustainable technologies that are currently available or in development.
Encyclopedia of Renewable and Sustainable Materials: Research and development on all aspects of renewable, recyclable and sustainable materials.
Encyclopedia of environmental management. A comprehensive overview of environmental problems, their sources, their assessment, and their solution

Books and book chapters--especially their introductions--can be very useful as background sources. You don't have to read the entire book; as a background source, introductions often concisely articulate the big picture. 

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

  • Tip on using Subject Headings: Check a book's subject headings  (listed under Details) in the catalogue record that can be used to find books about your topic. For example, the  book Solar photovoltaic power optimization includes the following subject headings, both broader and narrower, which may help you find different/better sources: Photovoltaic power generation; Solar energy; Renewable energy sources; Solar power; Alternate energy sources; Sustainable energy sources; Photovoltaic energy conversion. 

  • For help with the catalogue, ask a librarian or see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.

Government agencies

Provide policy documents, plans, and reports

Electricity & Alternative Energy (Province of British Columbia)
Clean Transportation Policies & Programs
Renewable & Low Carbon Fuels
Green Vancouver

Current Events 

Canadian Newsstream
Full text access to major Canadian daily newspapers (such as the Globe and Mail, National Post, The Gazette (Montreal), and Vancouver Sun) as well as small market newspapers and weeklies published in Canada.

CBCA Complete
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.

Wide range of information from newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, and company reports.

Nexis Uni (formerly Lexis Nexis)
International news coverage, business news, legal cases and law reports from early 1970's to present.

Statistics and data

Official sources 

Statistics/data databases

  • Statista: statistics aggregator that includes both official and unofficial sources
  • Knovel : Collection of technical handbooks, including chemicals and formulae.


The Tyee
Magazines: New Yorker, Salon, The Atlantic, Slate
Canadian Points of View database


This select includes both non-profit and industry organizations. Their websites often contain documents, reports, and statistics that support their cause. You can often find industry organizations through Google searches combining terms such as  TOPIC AND (producers or association or organization) (eg vertical farming organization, Christmas tree association...)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
David Suzuki Foundation 
Pembina Institute
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Fraser Institute Research: Environment

Research: Technical sources

ScienceDirect: Technical articles and book chapters published by Elsevier

Springer LINK Search: Highly technical books that include energy, engineering, and computing science

Ei Compendex: Multidisciplinary index to journal articles and trade publications in engineering. 

IEEE Xplore: Publications from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Prime source for the topic of electricity  (electric power, electric vehicles, electric grid...)

Web of Science Articles and conference papers from scholarly journals in many disciplines

Research: Social Science Sources 

The library catalogue  includes journal articles, but to conduct more comprehensive and focused searches, you will need to consult databases.

Academic Search Premier
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. 

Environment Complete
Provides articles on all aspects of the environment: from renewable energy and pollution to environmental technology and urban planning. 

Business Source Complete 
Indexes journals which examine commodities from economic and financial perspectives

Citing Sources

For your annotated reference list, you will be using APA style, and for your persuasive paper, you will be using IEEE style. 

Citing your sources allows you to give credit to the original researchers, to point your reader(s) to where you found information.

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 guide

Writing your paper

The Student Learning Commons (SLC) provides help with writing and formatting your paper, including a WriteAway service that promises a 48 hour turnaround for feedback on a paper. 

There are also several books at the library on writing technical reports and different types of essays.