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Library Research for Engineering Students

Find information sources for engineering research, evaluate information and get help with citation.

Scholarly, Trade and Popular Sources

What kind of source should you use in a research assignment?

  • Scholarly sources like journal articles and conference papers have the most in depth research
  • Trade publications are written for an audience of professionals in a specific field
  • Popular sources are written for the general public  

Scholarly sources are generally the most appropriate for research assignments. 


Example: Environmental Research Letters (Scholarly Journal)

J. Hollingsworth, B. Copeland and J.X. Johnson, "Are e-scooters polluters? The environmental impacts of shared dockless electric scooters," Environmental Research Letters, vol. 14, 2019. doi: 1748-9326/ab2da8  [Go to article]

  • Types include: Journal articles, conference papers, some books
  • Audience: Researchers, students, professionals
  • Authors: Researchers, professionals
  • References: Almost always
  • Editorial review: Reviewed by editors and often other researchers before publication
  • Structure: Usually includes an abstract (summary), introduction, description of research methods, results, and conclusion.
  • Ads: Minimal or none
  • More examples: Journal of Heat Transfer, Advanced Materials, Nanoscale

Example: SAE Mobilus News (Professional Association Website)

M. Miller. "Bird to expand to over 50 cities in Europe, roll out Bird Zero." Available: (Accessed Aug. 6, 2019).

  • Types include: Magazines, websites
  • Audience: Mainly professionals
  • Authors: Staff writers, professionals
  • References: Sometimes
  • Editorial review: Reviewed by editors
  • Ads: Yes 
  • More examples: See the current trends page for a list of Engineering trade magazines

Example: CBS News (Website)

I. Ivanova. "E-scooters are worse for the environment than many claim, study indicates." (Accessed Aug. 6, 2019). 


  • Types include: Magazines, newspapers, websites 
  • Audience: General public
  • Authors: Often journalists 
  • References: Rarely (sometimes links)
  • Ads: Yes 
  • More examples: Toronto Star, The Economist, Huffington Post, CNet
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