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ENGR 1201: Finding Sources

Finding Sources

For more information on specific databases, books, and websites for engineering, see our full Engineering Guide.

Starting Your Research

Too many beginning researchers go into their papers thinking they know the answer and looking for sources to back them up. This is how we get sloppy research! If you start your research by presupposing the answer, you probably won't be able to find any academic sources. For instance,

Why aren't men going to college these days?

The person who asked me this to help research this question already had an outcome in mind - that, in the student's experience, men weren't going to college. That student was not having any luck finding sources! Perhaps a better question would be,

Is college attendance among men down?

While this question no longer directly assumes the answer, it's still not a great research question. Down from when? And so what? Obviously college admissions workers may be interested in this question, but they may wonder about college attendance in general. Perhaps the drop in attendance among women is even greater than the drop in attendance among men. Maybe attendance is actually up among men over a certain age.

What are the trends in college attendance among young, city-dwelling men, compared to the population at large?

Now we have a research question we can work with. The first question, by presupposing an answer, may lead us to try to solve a problem that doesn't exist! The last question gives us cues to data to look for and, if attendance is indeed found to be lacking, a specific audience to whom we can tailor our remedial efforts.

This paper provides both suggestions for starting your research, as well as a template for technical writing.

SwoopSearch or Catalog Search?

If you've looked at our website, you see our search box in the middle of the screen:

You may be wondering the best way to search. If you're looking for a variety of sources on a topic, or if you're not sure what to look for, SwoopSearch is a great place to start - this box will search about 85% of the library collection, and includes books, eBooks, journals, reference materials, and more. 

If you know you want a book, click on advanced search and use the search scope menu to select the library catalog. This eliminates journals and other database holdings, so your results are books, eBooks, and government documents

Once you're more familiar with your field of research, you may wish to search by Databases. The benefit to this is, you can really target the type of results you want to meet your needs. The drawback is, you'll have to search them individually, which can be more time consuming!

You may wish to search by Journal. You can search a journal title or ISSN, or search by keyword. Use the wildcard [*] to retrieve more results, i.e. psycholog* instead of psychology.

You can also access our research guides by subject. There are a lot of great ways to get help in these guides!

Library Resources

Databases are used to find articles. Filters can be selected to narrow down the searches. Some of the types of documents you can find in databases:

  • Primary Sources - an original item. They can include articles, movies, recordings, or diaries.
  • Secondary Sources - a summary of primary sources. A review articles summaries articles in a specific field.
  • Peer-Reviewed - works that have been examined by professionals working in the same field. This check is done to find any duplications or results that can not be replicated.

If the library does not have the article, then order it through Interlibrary Loan.

Google Scholar

Google is great for daily searching, but try Google Scholar for academic research. Google Scholar utilizes their search engines specifically across more scholarly sources, such as academic publishers, professional societies, repositories, university websites, and more.  You’ll find relevant articles, books, abstracts, theses, and more.  Instead of their typical Google algorithms, Google Scholar uses rankings more similar to the scholars, with more weight given to the full text of documents, who wrote it, where it was published, and how it has been cited in other scholarly literature.

Start at, or simply Google, Google Scholar.

1. Click on Settings to adjust how you view and use search results, pick languages, select a library to link to, see your Google account, and add a Scholar Button to your browser.

2. Use My Library, My Citations, and Alerts to manage your research; use Metrics to help  evaluate journals to which you may consider contributing your own work.

3. Click on the arrow in the search box to pull up advanced search options, including Boolean operators, or author, journal, or date search.

Using the Library Links option in Settings can save you time by automatically linking to UT Tyler  library resources. You can also see the Import into and Save options; if you click More, you’ll also get an option for Cite.


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