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Engineering Guide: Finding Scholarly Sources

What is a scholarly source?

If your assignment asks you to use:

  • scholarly sources,
  • academic journal articles, or
  • peer-reviewed articles,

it is asking you to use credible information that has been written by and for experts in a subject—and usually written by the person who conducted the research they are writing about. In Engineering, scholarly sources are usually journal articles or conference papers.

Statistics, standards, and government or company reports are not considered scholarly sources, but might be useful and credible. To locate this sort of evidence for your work, go to the page Finding Facts, Statistics, Standards, and Reports.

Peer-reviewed (also known as refereed) articles have gone through an additional process to ensure their quality. These articles have been checked before publication by other experts in the field to make sure they seem plausible, there are no noticeable faults in the methodology, and they reach a reasonable conclusion given the evidence presented. Peer review does not mean that an article is credible, but it is more likely to be credible.

You will find scholarly sources in databases, WorldSearch, or Google Scholar. These sites usually have a search option that will return only peer-reviewed results. Some useful databases are listed below.


What is a database?

Databases are where you'll find journal articles and conference papers.

A database is a searchable collection of journal articles, books, and other resources. Some databases focus on peer-reviewed articles of academic quality, while others also contain newspaper articles, conference papers, book chapters, TV clips, and other types of information.

Many databases are subscription-only, so use the links here, on the A-Z database list, or on ECU library search to ensure the database knows you are an ECU student. This will prompt you to log in using your student username and password, if you are not already logged in.

Some items found in a database can only be found using that database, so it is worth performing a relevant database search even if you have already looked on ECU WorldSearch or Google Scholar.


How do you find databases?

ECU subscribes to many databases, some of which are subject specific, and some multi-disciplinary (they contain information for several academic disciplines). Some databases have content that is relevant only to a specific sub-field of engineering.

The A-Z database list has a brief summary of each database to help you decide which to use, and it can be filtered to return only databases that are relevant to engineering (using the drop-down menu for subjects).

Click the titles below for other useful databases:

  • Engineering databases: for scholarly information relevant to engineering in general, or multiple types of engineering.
  • Discipline-specific databases: for information relevant only to one type of engineering, e.g. petroleum or transport engineering.
  • Multidisciplinary databases: for scholarly information that is not engineering-specific and not solely related to only one discipline.
Core Engineering Databases

Look here first for scholarly content for engineering.

Other Engineering Databases

Sometimes you might need to look for research in areas outside of engineering, to complement your engineering research. These databases are not limited to a single discipline.

You may need to think more carefully about what keywords you use, as content will not be limited to engineering-specific information.