TCO 141 Emerging Technology Assignment (Spring 2016)

by Lee Twombly Olson last modified 2016-02-17T12:49:12-04:00
Step 1: Brainstorm

 Pick a topic related to one of the National Academy of Engineers Grand Challenges:

Once you've chosen a topic, state it as a question. For example, instead of "transportation systems," you might ask "How do we prevent the improper and unauthorized use of transportation systems, and reduce our vulnerability to their disruption, without seriously restricting mobility or violating individual rights?" Try to create a question you want to know the answer to!


Identify the main concepts and keywords in your question, and come up with alternatives. Ask yourself which words in your research topic are most important, and spend a few minutes thinking about alternative ways to phrase them. In our example, the most important keywords/phrases are "transportation systems," "unauthorized use," and "restricting mobility." You may consider replacing "transportation systems" with "mass transit."

Step 2: Find

Use the following to locate scholarly and non-scholarly articles:

  • Science & Technology Collection — Topics include aeronautics, astrophysics, biology, chemistry, computer technology, geology, aviation, physics, archaeology, marine sciences and materials science. In addition to the full text, this database offers indexing and abstracts for more than 1,700 publications.

Use the following guides to assist in navigating the three of the databases listed above:

  • Web of Science - This guide demonstrates searching in this multidisciplinary, user-friendly database.
Step 3: Evaluate
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources - Not sure how to identity the differences between a primary and secondary source? This tutorial reveals what distinguishes one from the other and shows examples of these types of sources for the Humanities and Sciences.
  • Scholarly (Peer-reviewed) Journals vs. Popular Magazines - Need to find an academic, peer-reviewed, or scholarly article?  Check out this guide to help you identify what they are and how to find them.
    • Trade publications are a type of non-scholarly source that are geared toward the practitioners of a particular trade or industry. For engineers, some example trade publications include Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Smithsonian, and Spectrum. For additional information about trade publications, check out Colorado State University Libraries' guide to Popular vs. Trade vs. Scholarly.
  • CRAAP Test or C.R.A.P. Test - Depending on your field of study and current topic, you may use a variety of resources in your research. You will need to evaluate all of them to determine whether or not they are reliable and relevant to your current project. Whether you have a book, article, website, or other source, you can use the C.R.A.P. Test to decide whether or not it's worth including in your resource list.
Step 4: Cite
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), Jack Tarver Library Circulation Desk, 2nd floor, BF76.7 .P83 2010 - The print version provides a more comprehensive use of the APA Style than the online version.
  • Zotero - This free software collects, manages, and cites research sources.