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.
What is a Library Database?
Library databases are online collections of resources and can include a variety of formats as well as levels of quality. There are general databases such as the Quick Search and discipline specific databases such as IEE Xplore.
General databases cover most subjects and index a variety of publications including scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journals, newspapers, and magazines. Subject specific databases specialize in a subject area and tend to include scholarly journals and books.
You may need to find specific types of sources, such as patents, standards, or conference proceedings. Certain databases focus on the type of resource, as well as they discipline.