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ENC 1102 USF Researching Renewable Energy Technologies Essay

ENC 1102 USF Researching Renewable Energy Technologies Essay


Finding Sources Through Library Research Assignment

In this overview, we will explore how to search within databases, journals, and open-access resources. This will help you to complete assignment P1.4 and equip you with the necessary tools to continually search for peer-reviewed publications throughout all the Projects in the course.

Before you begin researching, consider the following questions to help you access your prior knowledge about research and what it entails, in order to build upon and expand it throughout the course:

  1. Have you used library databases before? Explain your familiarity with using the library for research. Explain any confusion or difficulty you might have had with databases.
  2. What is your experience with academic/scholarly (we use these terms interchangeably) sources? What questions do you have about scholarly sources and how to find what you need for the research essay, ultimately?  
  3. What are the steps you’ll anticipate taking to find sources, and what are the different ways you can get assistance with the research if you need it?
  4. How easy do you think it will be to find sources – both popular and scholarly – on your topic? What are the potential pathways you might take within your research topic?
  5. What are you looking forward to learning about in the research process – either about your topic, or about doing research? What do you hope you will end up knowing more about?

Academic Sources & the USF Library  

Effective and efficient academic writing requires a solid understanding of types of sources and how to find them. The readings below will help you discern between popular and scholarly sources as you research – both source types you’ll need for Project 1.


Finding Sources Through Library Research (Interactive Reading)Links to an external site.

After reading these resources, you’ll be better-prepared to understand different approaches to using the library to conduct academic research. 

Researching Tips

When researching, your initial searches might yield too many results to be helpful. In order to narrow down your results, use these search limiters to refine your search results:

  • Availability and Location
  • Peer Reviewed 
  • Publication Date Range
  • Language or Geography 
  • Subject or Category

Additional research strategies:

  • Hyperlinked subject headings
  • Hyperlinked subject terms
  • Bibliographies or References
  • Related readings 

Prepare to Search for Sources

Gather Sources and Information

  • Evaluate sources as you go –  appropriate, likely to use or not? Consider evaluating the sources you find by using the CRAAP test method
  • Encyclopedias or Wikipedia are too broad and not usually extensively researched enough to count as a source in a research essay, but they can provide a good starting point to understand something and they might lead to better sources 
  • Keep a Works Cited list as you go, or at least a list of links so you don’t lose what you find – use MLA or APA or ask your instructor about following another style guide
  • Good rule of thumb: find four times the number of sources required, then discard less helpful ones – 75% of what you locate won’t be as helpful as you hoped, ultimately

Reading for Information

  • Annotating – mark up or use margin notes on printed articles or digital text
  • Taking Notes – helps you think through the information and organize what’s important
  • Using Note Cards – helps you organize later if you want to be able to “shuffle” information to organize writing ideas
  • Record your ideas from the research, note any parts you might quote, note any questions that arise that you might want to address in the essay

Writing a Brief Summary

  • Write summaries or identify/mark sections of information in sources you want to use — organize around key theme or idea about your topic 
  • Map out the “conversation” as you go and organize your research around each point you might want to make from the source information you have gathered
  • Cross-check your information in different sources – are you interpreting the information accurately and do you have more than one source to support a key idea?
  • Think about how you’ll use more than one source to support each point – several bits of evidence or information from sources are necessary to effectively support points you’ll make in your research essay – identify what you have and then you’ll know if you need more research about something
  • In addition to summarizing, you will quote directly or paraphrase in writing your research essay, so keep your sources handy and keep them bibliographically organized so you can easily create a Works Cited or References entry, and you’ll have them ready for in-text citations


Address the following:

  1. List 3-5 initial key terms or phrases you plan on using in order to conduct research. For each term or phrase, explain why you believe this term will generate relevant academic resources — does it directly relate to your topic; do experts in the field use that term when discussing related research; do you believe using a combination of these phrases will help in your exploration process?
  2. Write your current topic and list 2-3 academic fields/disciplines that you believe are directly related. For example, a research essay on COVID-19’s impact on college students’ mental health could be related to psychology, applied behavioral sciences, biology, sociology, business, and more. For each field/discipline listed, explain why you believe your topic is related to the field/discipline.
  3. For each field/discipline you provided in #3, list 2-3 databases or subject guides that you plan on consulting when researching. For each database and/or subject guide, write a brief explanation of why you believe searching your keywords/phrases inside that particular database and/or subject guide might yield helpful results.
  4. Which parts of this lesson – whether about resources the library offers or the distinctions between scholarly and popular sources – stood out to you? Does this new knowledge about research challenge any prior knowledge you had about researching that you wrote about in the beginning of class? Does it confirm what you knew? What are the similarities and differences from your previous experience to this assignment?   

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