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Often in engineering, one is faced with having to find information on a specific topic in preparation for doing work or research in the area. For example, say you are working on designing an excavation tool for use on the Moon. Before you start conducting your own research, you must start by searching what previous research exists on the topic.
To find information on your topic, you can: check reference books (e.g. subject specific encyclopedias and handbooks); search the Library Catalogue for books and other materials; and do a targeted search for articles using research databases. These are discussed below in more detail.
Reference books are available online and in print format in the Schulich Library Reference collection which is shelved on the main level in room 217.
|Encyclopedia of space science and technology||Online|
|Van Nostrand’s scientific encyclopedia||Online|
|Handbook of space technology||Online|
|Tool and manufacturing engineers handbook|
|Springer handbook of mechanical engineering||Online|
Finding journal articles
Useful databases for finding journal articles:
- Compendex – Covers all aspects of engineering
- Aerospace Database - Covers aeronautics, astronautics, and space sciences
- Scopus - A good start to your search, this comprehensive database covers all disciplines. Use Scopus to see who has cited an article of interest to your topic
- Web of Science – Covers all disciplines. Use Web of Science to see who has cited an article of interest to your topic
- Applied Science and Technology – Recommended for undergraduates, contains a lot of full text content in science and engineering
You may also wish to consult the full list of databases available through McGill Library.
Most of the Library's licensed electronic resources, such as databases, full-text online journals and e-books, are restricted to McGill students, faculty, staff and other authorized users of the McGill Library. Find out about accessing the Library's online resources from on and off campus.
How to find articles using keyword searching in databases:
Ways to decrease results, increase results and get new ideas for search terms
Sample subject: Designing an excavation tool for use on the Moon
Sample search: excavation AND moon in Aerospace Database
Way to decrease results: Use more terms
- Combining additional terms with AND gives you fewer results.
e.g. excavation AND tools AND moon
Way to increase results: Use synonyms
- Combining synonyms with OR gives you more results.
e.g. excavation AND (moon OR lunar)
Way to get new ideas for search terms
- Use subjects (also called descriptors, controlled vocabulary, controlled terms, etc.)
e.g. excavation and moon → Index Keywords: Natural satellites; tunneling; lunar excavation equipment
How to retrieve articles when they are online and when they are in print:
Sample search: excavation and moon in Aerospace Database
Article available online
e.g. Ignatiev, Alex, Klaus Heiss, and Paul van Susante. 2007. "ISRU-based development of a lunar water astroparticle observatory." Acta Astronautica 61:496-499. Accessed September 13, 2010. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2007.01.056.
Click on the Find It McGill button: . Then click on "Full text available via ScienceDirect Freedom Collection".
Article available through Google Scholar
e.g. Zacny, K., J. Craft, M. Hedlund, J. Wilson, P. Chu, P. Fink, R. Mueller, G. Galloway, and G. Mungas. 2009. "Novel approaches to drilling and excavation on the moon." AIAA space 2009 conference & exposition, Pasadena, California (USA), 14-17 Sept. 2009. Accessed September 13, 2010.
Article available in print only
e.g. Horz, F., R. Ostertag, D. A. Rainey, and Lockheed Engineering and Management Services Co., Inc., Houston, TX. 1983. "Bunte breccia of the ries - continuous deposits of large impact craters." Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics 21:1667-1725.
Can't find the article or book you want at McGill?
McGill students and staff may order articles not available at McGill using COLOMBO (interlibrary loan).
There are no charges for ordering through COLOMBO; McGill subsidizes this service.
Please do not wait until it is too late for us to help you with COLOMBO.
Writing and referencing your research paper
Consult these resources for tips on how to write a research paper. Click on the call number to find out the McGill Library where the book is located.
|Making sense : a student’s guide to research and writing : engineering and the technical sciences||T11 N675 2009|
|Pocket book of technical writing for engineers and scientists||T11 F53 2000|
|Style and ethics of communication in science and engineering||Online|
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago Manual of Style is available online through the McGill Library. The Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide is the easiest place to start. For the author-date style, click on the "Author-Date" tab.
- You can download EndNote citation management software for free. With this software you can get references directly from many databases, such as Web of Science.
- EndNote Web is now available at McGill University. To access EndNote Web you need to create a personal account. You may sign up for an account with your McGill email address at www.myendnoteweb.com.
- There are library workshops given on how to use this software effectively.
Mechanical Engineering Resources on the Internet
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
the world’s leading publisher in aerospace
- NASA Scientific and Technical Information
- NASA Technical Reports
- Canadian Space Agency
- Wikipedia list of space agencies