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Senior Projects  

Last Updated: Jan 7, 2011 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Welcome to the COSAM Senior Projects Research Guide!

This guide includes information and materials to help write your your senior project or project proposal: searching for senior projects, writing a literature review, submitting your senior project, and more...

Visit COSAM Research Central for subject specific research guides with lists of the best Library resources in each area of study and an excellent starting point for your research project.


Literature Reviews

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a written account providing an overview of all the important literature related to a particular topic. It is an essential part of any research publication, dissertation or thesis. It also can be a stand-alone document. 

The literature review is designed to do several things:

  • Discover what is known (or not known) about a topic or research question.
  • Determine the current status of the research on a topic or research question.
  • Situate your topic or research question into the context of related research and information.
  • Provide an understanding of the methodologies used in researching related questions.
  • Identify areas for further study.
Ultimately, a good literature review will familiarize the reader with the topic, so they understand how your question fits into the greater body of knowledge on the subject.

Steps in the Literature Review Process

The literature review involves a systematic process. 

The steps in this process include:

  1. Defining the topic or problem.
  2. Searching the literature.
  3. Reading and evaluating the information you find.
  4. Analyzing, comparing, relating, critiquing and synthesizing the information.
  5. Correctly citing the information included in the literature review.

Literature Review Manuals, Proposal Writing Guides, etc.

Cover Art
The literature review : a step-by-step guide for students - Diana Ridley
Call Number: LB2369 .R525 2008 / Library Reserves
ISBN: 1412934265
Contents: The multiple purposes of a literature review -- Sources of information and conducting searches -- Reading and note taking strategies -- Reference management : keeping records and organizing information -- Structuring the literature review -- In-text citations -- Being critical -- Foregrounding writer voice -- The continuing process.

Cover Art
The literature review : six steps to success - Lawrence A. Machi & Brenda T. McEvoy
Call Number: LB1047.3 .M33 2009 / Library Reserves
ISBN: 1412961351
Contents: The literature review process: getting started -- Select a topic -- Search the literature -- Develop the argument -- Survey the literature -- Critique the literature -- Write the review.

Cover Art
Writing successful science proposals - Andrew J. Friedland and Carol L. Folt
Call Number: Q180.55.P7 F75 2009
ISBN: 0300119399
Contents: Getting started -- Authorship from start to finish -- Basic organization and effective communication -- Developing your conceptual framework and significance statement -- A title may be more important than you think -- The project summary guides the reader -- Objectives, hypotheses, and specific aims : an exhaustive list is exhausting -- Lay the foundation in the introduction -- Experimental design and methods : what will you actually do? -- Plan for expected and unexpected results -- The timeline is a reality check -- References in detail : how many and how recent? -- Preparing a budget -- Submitting and tracking your proposal -- The three R's : rethink, revise, and resubmit -- Consider private foundations for funding of innovative research -- Team science for tackling complex problems -- Ethics and research.

Cover Art
Communication skills for the biosciences : a graduate guide - Aysha Divan
Call Number: R119 .D58 2009
ISBN: 0199226350
Communication Skills for the Biosciences is a straightforward, practical guide to the skills you should master to get the most out of your study and research, to pave the way to a successful career. Focusing on the three key modes of communication - written, oral, and visual - the book also includes valuable advice on associated topics, including intellectual property, the avoidance of plagiarism, data protection, and the role of e-technology.

Cover Art
The manual of scientific style : a guide for authors, editors, and researchers - Harold Rabinowitz and Suzanne Vogel
Call Number: REFERENCE 1st Floor T11 .M3385 2009 (Ref)
ISBN: 0123739802
Contents: Elements of science writing -- Preparing the manuscript -- Elements of style and usage -- Citations and references -- Copyright and permissions -- Style and usage for mathematics -- Style and usage for physics -- Style and usage for astronomy -- Style and usage for chemistry -- Style and usage for organic chemistry -- Style and usage for earth science and environmental science -- Style and usage for life science -- Style and usage for medical science -- Appendixes: A. Tables and conventions for mathematics -- B. Tables and conventions for physics -- C. Tables and conventions for astronomy -- D. Tables and conventions for chemistry -- E. Tables and conventions for organic chemistry -- F. Tables and conventions for earth science and environmental science -- G. Tables and conventions for life science -- H. Tables and conventions for medical science -- I. Further reading and resources.

Cover Art
The art of being a scientist : a guide for graduate students and their mentors - Roel Snieder and Ken Larner
Call Number: MAIN COLLECTION Q147 .S64 2009
ISBN: 0521743524
Contents: What is science? -- Choices, choices, choices -- The adviser and thesis committee -- Questions drive research -- Giving direction to your work -- Turning challenges into opportunities -- Ethics of research -- Using the scientific literature -- Communication -- Publishing a paper -- Time management -- Writing proposals -- The scientific career -- Applying for a job -- Concluding remarks -- Appendix A. Further reading -- Appendix B. A sample curriculum -- Appendix C. The Refer and BibTeX format.

Search for Senior Projects

  • Search Senior Projects 2009 to present
    Browse, view, and search for Senior Projects online by subject in DigitalCommons@CalPoly.
  • Search for Senior Projects prior to Fall 2009
    Search for Senior Projects prior to Fall 2009 in PolyCat. They are available on microfiche only and are available in the in Room 111. They are arranged by the 6-digit “call number” listed on PolyCat record. For help locating senior projects and instruction on using the reader/printers, ask at the Research Help Desk.
  • Locating Senior Projects Tutorial
    This tutorial shows you how to locate, access and view Senior Projects.

Senior Project Documentation

Senior projects are digitally deposited and made publicly available in the DigitalCommons@CalPoly, the University's repository for scholarship created by Cal Poly faculty and students.


Each department, school, and professor have their own requirements, expectations, and timelines regarding senior projects. Students should consult with their faculty advisors on specific academic department policies and procedures regarding wheter to submit their senior project to the library.

Learn more about about submitting your senior project to the library  and keep up to date on senior project submission guidelines, dates, and general information through the Senior Project Facebook Page.


Need help?

Ask A Librarian!

Contact a librarian 24/7 by live-chat, email, in-person, or phone.

COSAM Librarian
Jeanine Scaramozzino

(805) 756-5677

Campus Academic Resources

  • COSAM Advising Center
    Provides academic advising services to all students in the college plus Liberal Studies and Health Professions.
  • University Writing and Rhetoric Center
    Free, one-on-one tutoring to assist Cal Poly Students with any writing task.
  • Study Skills Seminars
    Seminars are offered throughout te quarter providing instruction in time management, textbook reading, note taking, test preparation, senior project preparation, and more.
  • Study Session Program
    For students who submit a request via MyCalPoly to study with a group focused on challenging, selected courses in the COSAM and the COE. Each group is led by an upper-division student and meets twice weekly throughout the quarter.
  • Tutor Referral Service
    A list of free on campus tutoring resources available fall, winter and spring.
  • School of Education
    Information on single subject credential, multiple subject credential, and Education Masters degree requirements.

Literature Review Activity


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