Skip to Main Content

Engineering Guide: Finding General Information

Finding General Sources

Books—including handbooks, dictionaries, and manuals—are a good starting point for research. They can help you understand the basics of a topic, and are often aimed at students and professionals who are not expected to be experts in the field.

Start with your Reading List and any textbooks your instructors have recommended.

Find additional print books or ebooks using ECU WorldSearch.

  • A keyword search is a quick way to find books on a topic.
  • If you know the exact title of the book that you are looking for, type "quotation marks" around the title.
  • Use the Advanced Search and filtering options to help you refine your search by keyword, author, title, etc.
  • Limit your search results to only those books held at ECU by selecting Edith Cowan University from the Library filter on the results screen.

For instructional information on search strategies to find books/ebooks, please visit:

To browse ebook collections specific to engineering, visit these databases:

There are also video sources that provide a good general overview of a topic. Lectures, conference videos, even YouTube videos can be a source of general information.

Keep in mind that not all videos are credible sources, even if they look professionally made or seem to have a lot of references. Some videos provide some factual information, but presented with a bias to sell you something or lead you to an inaccurate conclusion. Watch instructional videos with a critical eye.

Find videos on Engineering topics below:

Reports and Public Information

Use search engines for publicly available information

General search engines (such as Google or DuckDuckGo) can be helpful when you are looking for government reports, publicly available company information, and websites. Make sure you examine any information you find with a critical eye, as they are much less likely to have undergone a review process to test the quality or credibility of the information. This information is usually not considered scholarly, even if it is credible.

If you are looking for information specific to government sites, it can be helpful to use the search tools your chosen search engine provides. For instance, you can add to your search query to limit your results to websites that are run by an Australian government body.

The links below will help you use search engines more effectively:

Finding News Sources

News sources can provide information about current and historical events, as understood by people who witnessed those events at the time. You might find it useful to understand public opinion on the engineering profession, or to learn how non-engineers understand and interact with new technologies.

News sources can be tricky to research for several reasons:

  • Reporting happens quickly. Key information might be inaccurate or missing.
  • It can be difficult to determine editorial bias for news sources from a different time or location.
  • The volume of articles published each year can be overwhelming.

Before you begin researching on one of the databases below, you should understand the parameters of your search.

  • What is the subject of your search? Who or what was involved?
  • What kind of information are you trying to find? Informational, opinion, investigative journalism?
  • Is the information you're looking for specific to one time frame or location?
  • Would the keywords and language used in the articles match the way you would describe the event? The way we talk about a topic may change over time, between locations, or when the audience for an article is the wider population (not just engineers or academics).

For help choosing and evaluating news sources, visit the News and Current Affairs library guide:

To search multiple news sources at once, try one of the links below. Each database has a different scope, so make sure you choose a database that is appropriate for your topic. You might need to try more than one.

Finding Company or Industry Information

It can be difficult to locate reliable information about an industry or company.

You can search for information provided by the company, but remember that this information may be biased to present the company in a positive light. Consider what information has been presented, and why they have chosen to make it public, when you are judging how accurate it is likely to be. There are companies and government bodies that may give a more balanced view. See below for links.

Use the following databases to find country-specific industry reports and customisable statistical data reports. Read the description below each database to choose one that suits your purposes.