NEF1103 Engineering and the Community: Getting started on your assignment

Library training programs

Check out the training program offered by the Library introducing e-books, and referencing using the bibliographic software EndNote.

Google vs. VU library

Advantages of using VU Library search tools over doing general Internet search to find academic sources of information for your assignments. 

Steps to a successful assignment

  1. Collect all your information about the assignment.
  • the handout on the assignment
  • the type of resources required for your Reference List e.g. books, journal articles
  • notes from classes on how to do the assignment
  1. Analyse and prepare
  • identify the Required Reading 
  • identify keywords & search the Library for additional resources e.g. books, journal articles (see the boxes below to know what are keywords and for some keyword search strategies)
  1. Read for Information
  • read Required Reading and make notes
  • read the additional articles etc. for information not in the Required Reading
  • prepare each Reference as you read it, and ensure it is written in the suggested referencing style (Harvard or IEEE). Refer to Harvard or IEEE referencing guides for further assistance.
  1. Start writing
  • collect notes from your reading and start to build your assignment
  • write the correct References for each of your readings for your Reference List

          Refer to the Academic Writing page to read about the writing process and its steps.

 

What are keywords?

Key words are words in a question that tell you the approach you should take when answering an assignment question. 

Keywords can include content (topic), limiting (restricting), and task (instruction) words.

Assignment example:

"Managing urban traffic congestion can be costly both financially and socially. Discuss and suggest solutions for sustainable transport in Australian cities."

    Content Words      

  • Tell you what the topic area is.
  • Help you to focus your research and reading on the correct area.
  • Think about synonyms or similar words.    
  • e.g. in this example: managing urban traffic congestion, and sustainable transport in cities.

Source: University of New South Wales

    Limiting Words 

  • Tell you what area(s) to focus on, e.g. Australian cities
  • Define the topic area further.
  • Indicate aspects of the topic area you should narrowly concentrate on.

 

 

 

    Task Words

  • Tell you what to do; the action(s) you need to perform, e.g. compare, contrast, describe, summarise, i.e. discuss and suggest as in this example.

When you are searching for information for an essay question, assignment or project, use the identified content and limiting keywords to search for information sources in our Library Search and online.

Keyword search strategies

Assignment 1 - an individual reflection essay on one of the following study fields in Bachelor of Engineering or Building engineering fields: Civil, Mechanical, Architectural, Electrical Engineering, Building Construction, or Building Surveying.

See NEF1103 Engineering and the Community on VU Collaborate for information about assignment requirements.

Once you have analysed your topic and done some preliminary reading, you are ready to break down the chosen research topic into key concepts selected from both the topic and your readings. It is best to identify 2 to 4 key concepts, with each concept containing up to 2 words, which will serve as keywords or search terms you'll type in Library Search to find relevant resources.  You might need to build separate search strategies for different aspects of your research as well as use a variety of keywords to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic.analysed your topic and done some preliminary reading, you are ready to break down the chosen research topic into key concepts selected from both the topic and your readings. It is best to identify 2 to 4 key concepts, with each concept containing up to 2 words, which will serve as keywords or search terms you'll type in Library Search to find relevant resources.  You might need to build separate search strategies for different aspects of your research as well as use a variety of keywords to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic.

Source: University of Texas Libraries

If, for example, you want to focus on 'civil engineering' and 'design process', list your main concepts or keywords:

civil engineering
design (the word 'process' might be unnecessary)

Apply the following strategies to combine them:

  • for a basic search, enter the identified keywords in the search field, for example: civil engineering design
  • if you want to combine 'civil engineering' and some others aspects of your research such as: problem solving, communication, team work, critical thinking, etc. in your searches, you can also use the Boolean operators (AND, OR & NOT) to narrow or broaden your searches, and construct more complex search statements, for example, civil engineering AND (problem solving OR issues) AND communication
  • think of possible synonyms and related words or phrases, for example, design process OR design activities OR design experience
  • search exact phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotes, for example, "design process"
  • find a term with various endings by using as a truncation symbol represented by an asterisk (*), for example, design* will retrieve design, designs, designing and designers
  • group related or synonymous terms together by placing them in parentheses, for example, (process* OR activities OR experience)

View the videos in this guide to learn how to search for books, e-books and journal articles available at Victoria University Library.

Assignment 2 - a case study report based on an external site visit

Keyword searching examples:

"Melbourne Water" supply

"Melbourne Water" supply needs

"Melbourne Water" supply forecasting

sustainable buildings Melbourne

sustainable building design Melbourne

design for climate Melbourne

(eco-urban OR eco-design) AND Melbourne

Assignment 3 – Engineers without Borders Project - Team Project Report

Keyword searching example:

(Vanuatu OR Pacific OR Pacific Island*) AND (“problem solving” OR design OR sustainable development)

You could also use and combine any of the other suggested keywords:

Vanuatu AND water supply

Vanuatu AND (sanitation OR hygiene)

Vanuatu AND (energy OR energy development OR energy industries)

Vanuatu AND (food OR farming production OR agriculture)

Vanuatu AND (shelter* OR housing OR dwelling* OR homelessness)

Vanuatu AND (waste management OR disposal OR removal OR waste collection)

Vanuatu AND (information communication* technolog* OR ICT)

Vanuatu AND (transport OR transportation)

Vanuatu AND (environment OR conversation)

humanitarian engineering

sustainable engineering

community development

(underdeveloped OR developing) countries

energy OR sustainable energy OR heat OR light OR power OR fuel

food production AND climate

Assignment 4 – Engineers Ethics and Professional Responsibilities - Team Oral Presentation

Keyword searching example:

(Vanuatu OR Pacific* OR Pacific Island* OR developing countries) AND (ethics OR "social responsibility" OR "professional responsibility")

 

Finding references for your assignements

The assessment guideline for writing the reflective essay suggests that you will need to include at least 3 academic references (journal articles/books). References are not included in the word count. You are required to follow the IEEE style of referencing for this assignment.