Starting Your Research: Engineering

This page is an introduction to using the library to find information. It gives you an overview of the research process, the types of information available, and the basic research tools.

Additional help

Step 1: Select topic and identify your keywords

  • Express your topic or research question in a sentence.
  • List all the ideas and concepts mentioned in your sentence. Be specific. You want a manageable number of useful results.
  • Add synonyms of the words you have listed.

Step 2: Identify the best types of information needed

  • Books - use books when you need depth or breadth of a subject, or for historical perspective.
  • Articles - use journal articles when you need currency or a focused approach.
  • Patents or reports - use these when you need technical information and/or images.

Step 3: Identify best resources and research tools

  • Look at Finding Background Information. This guide will list the indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, databases for finding information in the field of engineering.

Step 4: Carry out the searches and locate the items in the Library

Step 5: Evaluate the information that you have found

  • Evaluate each source to ascertain that it is appropriate for a scholarly audience. Journal articles should be peer-reviewed. Look at Popular Magazines vs. Scholarly Journals (from Skyline College).
  • You need to be particularly careful with web information. Look at Finding Quality Web Information.

Step 6: Write your paper and do your bibliography

  • Take your time to do your research thoroughly and your paper will write easily and quickly.
  • Collect your citations as you do your research. For information on writing style or to determine what format you should use with your citations, look at Citing Sources.
  • You may store and manage your citations in
  • RefWorks also allows you to create and format bibliographies using these citations.
  • Use the free Write-N-Cite plug-in to insert and format citations in your papers with MS Word.

Created by: Norine Hanus, B.Ed., B.L.S.
Date Created: September 2005
Date Revised: June 2007

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