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READ 104 Reading Mastery (Rosemond): Day 2: Science & Technology

This guide is here to assist students in Harry Rosemond's READ104 class

Your Assignment

Choose a science or technology-related topic for some quick research. Either start with a topic you are interested in OR browse for ideas in any of the following: the print reference resources provided in class or the library research databases GVRL (linked from your research guide).  

Select and read a reference article on your topic from your print encyclopediaGVRL.

Answer the questions about your reference article on the worksheet provided in class.

Need a copy of the assignment?

Click on the document link at the top of this box to download a copy of the assignment

Why Start with Reference?

Get pointed in the right direction by locating background information first. An overview of your topic area helps you understand...

  • what the key issues are and how you may want to refine your topic
  • who are the stakeholders (the groups or individuals this topic concerns)
  • a context of how your topic relates to the other issues that surround it
  • a historical perspective on your topic
  • specialized vocabulary or search words that are used in your field (you will use these words for searches later in your research process)

HELP! I can't decide on a topic!

One of the most challenging parts of research can be finding the right topic. This guide can walk you through the process of developing a topic.

Disciplines within science & technology include:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Astronomy
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Zoology
  • Geology
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science

Defining Scientific and Technical Terminology

Using Reference Resources for Science & Technology Research

Image of beakers

Reference books, or academic encyclopedias, are a good place to start for any research project. Written by scholars, they provide reliable background information on a subject. Background information helps you understand context, theory, key concepts and more.

In addtion to print reference books we also have access to online reference databases. These academic resources are more reliable than Wikipedia. Why not Wikipedia? While Wikipedia is easy to find and use (and a great public project), articles in Wikipedia are anonymous and openly edited. That means for academic purposes, Wikipedia is not an authoritative resource.

The quality of your research resources matter. Make sure they pass the CRAAP test!

Electronic Reference Resources

Databases are specialized library search tools that find info that is not generally available on the internet. The library provides access to many different databases databases. One of the library's databases, Gale Virtual Reference Library - eBooks (GVRL), focuses specifically on reference resources, mostly articles from reference books:

Finding a Reference Article in Gale Virtual Reference Library - Gale eBooks (GVRL)

In Gale Virtual Reference Library - Gale eBooks (GVRL), you can either SEARCH the entire database for your topic or you can BROWSE articles within a specific topic or within particular reference books.

Search screen in Gale eBooks - Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)


You can also use the Topic Finder tool to identify keywords related to your search:

  • Narrower terms
  • Broader terms
  • Related terms/Synonyms

Topic Finder in Gale eBooks - Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)


Identify Your Search Words

Make a list of SEARCH WORDS or KEYWORDS.

To begin to search successfully you must use a vareity of words that relate to your topic. Identify keyword/search words through your background research:

  • Think of the different words and phrases that people use when they discuss your topic (related terms) 
  • Consider broader and narrower words, and synonyms (words that have the same meaning)
  • Pay attention to alternate spellings and abreviations

Print Reference Resources

Reference Books: Use in the library or photocopy or scan. To find your topic:

Look in the back of the book at the index.The index will quickly tell you the page numbers where your topic is located.

Example Reference Article

Let's practice identifying useful keywords/search words:

SKIM the reference article below

Identify useful keywords/search words by thinking about:

  • broader/narrower terms
  • related terms/synonyms
  • WHO is involved, WHAT are the issues, WHERE is this happening, WHEN is this happening, HOW should this be addressed & WHY is this happening