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Scientific & Technical Writing Research Guide (ENG 355:302 ): Getting Started

Visit this research guide for articles, websites, and other resources for your Scientific & Technical Writing class.

Research can be seen as a series of linked activities moving from a beginning to an end. It usually begins with the identification of a problem followed by formulation of research questions or objectives. The researcher determines what information to collect and how it will be analyzed in order to answer the research question.


Described in this way the research process seems linear, yet research is often an iterative (repeating) process. Decisions made early in the research process are often revisited in the light of new insights or practical problems encountered along the way.

The following resources are useful  to identify topics, overviews, background information, concepts, theories, ideas, and key references:

More Resources for Topic Ideas

Other Sources:
* Social Trends  - Pew Research Center
* Politics - New York Times political coverage

Create your free NYT subscription account by clicking the link in the library website:

* Science Developments - Science Daily
* Technology Developments - Popular Mechanics
* International News -BBC
* Interesting and Unusual Research Ideas - JSTOR Daily
* Local Issues - Daily Targum; Rutgers Today; or

Ask Yourself:

Is this a topic I have always wanted to know more about?

Does this topic meet the requirements of my project?


  • Select a topic you find interesting. If you find a topic compelling, the research and writing process will be more satisfying for you, and your passion (or lack thereof) will be evident in your paper.
  • If you pick a problem that is too general, you won't be able to adequately cover it in a few pages. If you select a problem that is too narrow, you may have trouble finding helpful sources.

Background Information Serves Many Purposes:

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic such as terminology, dates, events, history, and relevant names or organizations.
  • It can help you refine your topic.
  • Background research might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information.

Acquire Basic Knowledge and Consider:

What terms do you need to know to better understand this issue?

Who is affected by issue?

What are the main controversies associated with the issue?

Who are the key figures and organizations surrounding this issue?

What significant events have occurred related to this issue?

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