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Research Guides

APS111: Engineering Strategies & Practice

Project: Hart House Renewal

You have been tasked with working on one of three projects to help redesign and repurpose areas of Hart House.

Warning: DO NOT CONTACT the client directly during the project. We want to make sure to protect and respect his time, and willingness to participate in this project. If you have questions you can submit them through the Piazza discussion board or to your course instructor. They will consolidate the questions and post an FAQ for the class. The course coordinators will also try to arrange a time for Dr. Kim to attend a meet-up where you can talk with him directly.

For this assignment you need to do research! You will need to find and cite credible information sources. This guide will help you find, evaluate and cite information. Use the navigation on the left to get started. This guide is just a starting point to your research. There are other credible resources not described in this guide. If you need help finding something, visit the Reference Help Desk.

If you are new to a topic...

You probably are not an expert on topics related to redesigning and repurposing spaces. Needing to do background research on a project is very common in engineering. If you are working on a project you are unfamiliar with first start by reading about the topic in encyclopedias, technical dictionaries and books. This will help you understand the topic better and learn what types of words you need to use in your searches. Once you have this background understanding it will be easier for you to find and understand the jargon and other technical words in journal articles, reports, standards, handbook, patents, etc.

But I can't find...!!!

Sometimes students get frustrated because they can't find a source that exactly supports their claim or answers their question.  Remember, you are designing something no one else has designed before; therefore, that one perfect source probably does not exist.

When this happens, you will need to use various types of sources to give evidence in support of your ideas from different perspectives. Sources can be combined or triangulated to strengthen a design claim.

For example, if you want to support a claim that one item is better than another you might need to consult a handbook to determine properties about the material the items are made from, a journal article that describes an experiment that compares the durability of the two items, a catagloue to determine the cost of the two items and a government publication or standard to show the object is accessible and safe to use.

Using triangulation is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced! For help finding information when doing triangulation ask the library staff. For help synthesizing that information into a well written sentence talk to your communications instructor (CI)!

Search Tips: Boolean Operators

Databases use Boolean language to understand your search question. Unlike Google, database search for the exact terms you use. At first it can be tricky to figure out how to speak to databases, but once you do, it can be much faster and yield higher quality results than a Google search. Here are some tips on how to ask databases for what you want:

  • Using OR will search for EITHER term in the article. Or is used to group terms that mean the same thing: cat OR feline
  • Using AND will search for articles using BOTH terms. And is used to narrow searches: dog AND walk
  • (Brackets'nest' the operators OR and AND, similar to brackets in a math equation.
  • "Quotes" around a word will search for the exact phrase. For example, "ice cream" is better than ice cream.
  • Using * after the root of a word will search for all permutations of the word. For example, detect* will search for detectiondetecting and detect
  • In some cases you may need to replace general words with technical words if possible. Instead of using pizza box, use the technical word packaging material. You may also need to find terms that are more broad or specific.
  • Think of possible synonyms for words. Some authors may use delivery others will use takeaway, takeout or take out
  • You can combine the tips above to create a search


Help with writing

Engineering Communications Program can help with writing. Check out their online resources: