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Engineering Research Guide

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Ellen Cline
Belk Library 117

Citation Resources

Guide to Engineering Research

This guide contains links to engineering resources, online and some print, that are available through Belk Library.

Finding Sources

Also known as "Scholarly Articles," "Peer-Reviewed Articles," or "Academic Articles," these are:

  • written and reviewed by scholars and provide new research, analysis, or information about a specific topic
  • usually focused on a narrow subject or a single case study
  • intended for an academic audience

Know your types of articles:

  • "peer-reviewed" means the article is approved by other experts before publication or presentation
  • a "review" article summarizes the field's current understanding of a topic (great for background information!)
  • a "preprint" is an early version of an article, usually prior to peer review
Pros Cons
  • information is based on research and expertise
  • information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • the peer-review process (mostly) insures that the information is accurate
  • each article adds to a growing understanding of a topic by contributing new ideas
  • information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • often filled with field-specific jargon

Find Engineering Articles:

Books written by experts are a good source of information for many topics. Books in the sciences and engineering often contain:

  • exercises and examples
  • problem sets
  • other practical tools

Use these tools to help learn as you read.

Remember: you may only need to read one chapter of a scholarly book!

Pros Cons
  • easier to read than journal articles, and (usually) written for a wider audience
  • often undergo a peer-review process
  • contain less recent information, due to the long publication process
  • can be lengthy

Find Engineering Books:


You may find that a number of engineering books are located in:

Datasets are collections of data, numeric or textual, arranged in tables. Data and datasets are often used in engineering work, whether you need:

  • experimental data for a report
  • detailed data on material properties
  • a dataset to test a computational process
  • something else entirely; data can be almost anything
Pros Cons
  • exact and specific
  • can contain incredible detail or level of granularity not found elsewhere
  • can be messy or contain bias
  • sometimes difficult to locate the exact type of data needed
  • might be restricted access

Find & Use Data:

Standards or Codes are used by engineers, researchers, and industry to ensure safety and consistency. Standards and codes are created by experts and follow a cycle of review to ensure currency. They often contain:

  • guidelines or specifications for design or testing
  • requirements (if applicable)
Pros Cons
  • detailed and exact, whether in terms of schematics or applications
  • created by and for engineers
  • sometimes multiple conflicting versions exist
  • can be difficult to locate the exact one needed

Find Standards & Codes:

You can use Interlibrary Loan for standards that the library doesn't currently have access to. Alternatively, request a purchase (individual standards).

Technical Reports are detailed explanations of the results of a project. They are usually prepared by government agencies (NASA, DOE, etc) or companies with an interest in the topic. Technical Reports:

  • are written by researchers, but often aren't peer-reviewed
  • can contain large amounts of data
  • may be restricted access
Pros Cons
  • data and/or designs often very detailed
  • provide a better understanding of a topic of interest
  • sometimes difficult to locate the full text
  • can be difficult to understand (lots of jargon)

Find Technical Reports: