Technology develops at a rapid pace, and professional engineers must know how to keep up with the latest developments. "Keeping up" means investigating how others are coming up with engineering solutions to solve various problems. Your ability to keep up with the latest developments in engineering will help you:
Get your own ideas for how to solve problems.
Ensure that your ideas for solving a problem have not already been explored by someone else.
Ensure that your ideas offer a competitive, marketable solution to a problem.
Engineering Information Sources
Engineers regularly consult several different types of information sources, as these sources have different qualities and uses. The best sources to consult will depend on your information need. Employers value employees who know which sources to consult for a particular information need, and how to find those sources efficiently.
Engineers share their research findings primarily through journal articles and conference papers, but also through technical reports, patents, standards, websites, trade publications, and dissertations and theses.
Journal articles and conference papers are especially important because:
These publications contain research results that establish new facts and move the discipline forward.
These are original research.
These publications contain the most current research.
Information in most journals has undergone a peer-review process to help ensure accuracy and reliability. Some conference papers are also peer-reviewed.
Types of Sources
Determine types of sources required by your instructor and what types of sources best fit your topic.
Eisen, A. (2014). Research 101: Format Matters. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKQSQgdUAu4
Scholarly Sources: Written by experts (scholars, professors, researchers) in a given field, scholarly sources are highly specialized and often individual research projects that include methodology and theory and may undergo a peer-review process. they include journal articles, books, and some sources found on the web. They assume the reader has some knowledge of the topic.
Trade/Professional Publications: Written by professionals in the field or journalists working for the publisher, these publications report on industry trends, new products or techniques, and discipline-specific news.
Popular Magazines: Written by journalists or freelance writers, popular magazines inform readers about issues of common interest to the general public.
Newspapers: Are written for the general public and have different sections (ranging from investigative reporting to editorials). Look carefully at the section and what is being said in the articles to distinguish the types of articles you have found.
Primary Sources: The terms "primary" or "original" sources are used to describe several different types of sources. In the sciences, original research or primary sources describe an original article. In the humanities, a primary source could be the text of a novel or an artifact such as a diary or map. A few books collect primary sources and a number of web collections (often affiliated with a special collection or museum) provide digitized primary sources.
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