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Design Project Seminar (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Help – Library Tutorials

Tutorials Available in this Guide

Library Guides with Database Tutorials

Help with Writing the Background Section of your Report

Don't Plagiarize

Don't be that person. Give authors proper credit. Let your readers know where to find what you read.

Keeping Current with Information

While you are working on your project, new papers will be produced. The electrical engineering library guide contains a page to save you time when keeping up with new literature by using table of contents and search alerts.Go to the Keeping Current page on the Electrical Engineering library guide.

How Do I Know that I Provided Enough Information?

Often a journalist considers the 5Ws (who, what, where, when, why) and 1H (how) when writing an article. This can be helpful when writing the background section of your technical report as well. In particular, what, why and how are very important. For example,

Always consider your audience. If someone has not researched this topic but has technical expertise, can they completely understand your report without question? A few tips that might help you answer this question would be to

Keep in mind this is a technical report. Details about basic theories and current technologies must be given. Listing citations without discussion does not provide enough detail for your reader.

Finding Standards

Learn how to find out which version of a standard is active and how to locate a copy of it. Many of the same principles discussed in this tutorial can be applied to finding other types of standards.

Some Literature Review Tips

  • Use more than one database and don’t limit yourself to one format because
    • you will not find all articles in one database and
    • articles alone will not give you all the information that you need about your topic.
  • use keyword and subject searching to find more information. There are pro and cons to each type of search, such as
    • Keyword searches are better than subject searches when
      • there are incorrect subject terms or
      • it is a newer topic with no subject terms yet.
    • Subject searches are better than keyword search when
      • the author uses different words to describe your topic for various reasons (e.g. author is from a different discipline than you), and
      • when there is variation in spelling, such as British versus American English.
  • If you have too little or too much information, you can adjust your search and try again.

  • Do you have no results? Probably, your search is too narrow. Try using
    • less terms,
    • broader terms, or
    • common terms used by authors in the field for your topic.
  • Do you have too many results with many irrelevant? Probably, your search is too broad. Try
    • adding terms,
    • excluding irrelevant, or
    • using more specific terms.

    You will probably have a mixture of broad and narrow searches.

  • Sometimes you can find more information by noticing who is publishing in your topic
    • Are there authors that have produced many papers in your topic area?
    • Are there organizations or research institutions that are affiliated with many of the authors that produce papers in your topic area?
  • References within papers of interest can provide leads to more papers.
  • Keep track of searches that you have tried and save the ones that are most effective.
  • For long term projects like a thesis or a senior project, you must keep up with what others are publishing in your topic area. Try
    • Table of Contents alerts,
    • RSS feeds, and
    • database search alerts.

    They will save you time.

  • Use a reference manager to store and format citations.