Ryerson University Library and Archives Home

CMN432 Professional Communications for Engineers

Course Companion for CMN432

What you will learn - Where to Start your Research

By the end of this module, you will

 

  1. Know where to start your research

  2. Learn how to develop your research skills

  3. Be able to choose between Google and the Library's website for your sources

 

Test your knowledge - Using the Library's website

Where to start your research (Video)

Learning Objective: Understand why the Library's website is essential for research

 

 

Check out our video “Where to start your Research

How to develop your research skills

Learning Objective: Understand university-level research skills .  

 

Why you need to learn the skill of searching for information

Your research assignments are designed to help you develop an important life skill - the skill of finding, evaluating and using information to answer questions and develop new ones. This is a pretty important life skill that you will use to write your essays, buy a new car or complete a very important report for your boss at work.

 

 

Becoming an expert researcher:

By the time you graduate you will know the following....

 

Your topic is part of a bigger conversation:

This conversation has been going on for a very long time with many different viewpoints. Your paper is part of this conversation and you know you should look at sources with opposing viewpoints to engage in this dialogue.  

 

Your research process involves false starts, repeating steps and asking increasingly complex questions.

You’ll start out finding information on the simple questions like “what does my topic mean?” Once you know the answer to the simple questions, you will move onto finding sources that help answer the more fundamental questions of your topic like “why does this matter?”

 

You ask critical questions about the “authority” of your source.

You ask relevant questions about the origin, context, and suitability of the information before you use it. You understand that there are authorized forms of information for discipline or career specific situations (like peer reviewed journals).   

 

You know formats like Academic Journals strive for information quality and accuracy.

You understand that different types of formats (a book vs. a Tweet) will affect quality of information.

 

You find sources using different search strategies and you budget time to go back and find even more sources.

You try different keywords to find a broad range of information sources (books, journals, newspapers) and seek out different avenues (Databases, Government websites etc.,).

 

You always cite your sources because you understand that information has value

You understand that citing is a legal responsibility to respect the work of others just as your work should be respected.

Activity for lesson 2: check what you've learned. 

Chosing between Google vs the Library's website

Learning Objective: Identify the key differences between the Library's website and Google

 

So why can’t I just use Google?

two people kicking and punching a punching bag, one is called Google the other one is called The Library

 

It’s true you can find some good sources by searching Google, but the majority of academic level sources you need for your assignment are locked into expensive databases owned by private companies. 

The Library pays for access to these databases and as a student, you have free access to them if you search through the Library's website. 

You can still use Google to search for government or non-government reports, but remember, relying just on Google for your sources won’t cut it at the University level. 

 

Stick Man at chalkboard with the word WHY?

So where should you start? - Especially if you have no idea what your topic is about!

You can start by looking through your textbook or course readings. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with using Wikipedia and Google to get an idea of what your topic is about.

After that, the next step is to find authoritative information, and for this you need to use the Library's website!

 

 

 

Activity for lesson 3: check what you've learned