Explore engineering articles, patents, standards, and other information.

Search for Journal Articles, News, Conference Papers, and More

Capstone guidelines and information are here (linked from this department page).
  • See the SAMPLES tab on this page for a sample Project Plan, and for examples of how your final paper should look.
Save your time! Use these search techniques:
  • Put quotation marks around PHRASES (two or more words), so that the words are searched together
    --- Example: "chicken pox"
  • Put an asterisk at the end of words, so that you get all of the word endings
    --- Example: high* = high, highs, higher, highest
  • Think of alternate spellings or synonyms
    --- Examples: house OR home OR dwelling OR residence; "cyber security" OR cybersecurity -- it's used both ways
    -- You should also add "information security" OR "computer security" OR "network security" or cyberdefense [this does not need quotation marks because it is only one word]
  • Start by putting your search words in the TITLE. If you get nothing, you can take them out of the Title and move them to "Anywhere."

Use journal articles to get:

  • a narrow or specific part of your topic
  • up-to-date information

For specialized article databases, go the library home page --> Articles & Databases --> Databases

  • You can choose an article database by its NAME or by its SUBJECT
  • In the list of SUBJECT databases, start with the ones listed under CORE, which are the best for that subject
  • To see what the database covers, click the little round "i" button next to its name


Databases let you FOCUS your search, so that you can find exactly what you want.

1. Engineering, Computer/IT Topics, and More -- Start with Compendex

2. Technology and Communications Industries

Gartner Advisory Intraweb -- This database has short articles and reports about the technology and communications industries

Start with "Advanced Search":

Just like all of the other databases, use the other features to FOCUS your search. Remember to start by putting your words in the TITLE, or TITLE and SUMMARY, and put PHRASES in quotation marks:

Notes about the Gartner database:

  • You cannot search the whole Gartner website at once. Here is a site map to help you find specific parts of the database
  • "Archived" means that the item is more than 1 year old

3. Law and Policy

  • CQ Researcher (Congressional Quarterly) has topics you can browse. For example, under Defense and National Security --> Technology are good background overviews about cybersecurity (2015-2017)
  • For help, contact Yunshan Ye, the librarian listed on the left of this page

4. Broad Search -- Google Scholar

  • In addition to the specialized databases listed above, most of the essay topics would benefit from a carefully focused Google Scholar search -- here's an example of using the Advanced Search to get decent results in Scholar (although still too many)

In all databases as well as Google Scholar, always use "Advanced Search."

  • This will let you focus your search to get better results, as well as save you a lot of time









In all library databases including Google Scholar, the FIND IT@JHU link will take you to all of the ways that you can get an article.

  • On a Hopkins computer, Google Scholar automatically shows you FIND IT@JHU  links
  • But on a non-Hopkins device (like your laptop), you should
    --- go to the library home page , choose "Articles and Databases," and use the "Google Scholar" tab, OR
    --- log in through the portal (, OR
    --- configure Scholar to show the links to you: in the upper left corner, click the little icon with 3 lines; choose "Settings"; choose "Library Links"; click "Save

If you do not see "FIND IT" next to a citation, look below the citation and click on the little arrow UNDER the citation. Usually, the FIND IT link will magically appear.








In your Google Scholar list of article results, you may also see books.

  1. If you click on the title, Google Scholar will take you to Google Books
  2. However, copyright law prevents them from showing you the whole book
  3. Search the library catalog for the book you want -- if we have it, you can see 100% of it!
  4. Remember that if we do not have a book in any format, you can request it through BorrowDirect or Interlibrary Loan (on the library home page under "Borrow and Request Materials")

In addition to news, news items can also provide the names of information sources about your topics.

Writing Help

Also see the library's guide to Writing.



  • “Annotated” = “with notes”
  • “Annotated outline” = Has all of the sections of the FINAL Capstone report, with notes in every section. It also must have 5 references that you will be using in your final report.
  • “Citation” and “reference” are almost the same thing. “Citation” = author, title, journal or book title, year, and the other things required by IEEE or ACM style. A “reference” is a citation that you actually USE ("cite") in your reference list (also called "bibliography")

Writing Tips

  • Spell Check is good, but you must still read through it or have a friend read through it, because there are many words that mean different things. For example:  there / their;  great / grate
  • A Capstone is a formal piece of writing, so do not use informal language
  • What about authors who disagree with you or point out limitations to your approach? You should make sure to talk a about those; for example, "Some authors point out that _______. However, our approach avoids that problem by ______."
  • Every word and every sentence must be clear. If you use words like "it" or "he" or "those," make sure that the reader will know who or what the word is referring to.
  • Every paragraph must follow logically from the one before it -- if you are going to introduce a new subject, say something like, "Related to that is the concept of X," or "Now we will discuss Y."

Thesis Statement

Make sure that your problem definition (also called "thesis statement") is very clear, and include evidence to support it.

---Here is a definition from the Writing Center at U. North Carolina Chapel Hill
"A thesis statement is “usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader...
The rest of the paper…gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your [analysis].”

---"How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement" (from U. Evansville, IN).

---More information about your thesis statement (adapted from Writing Style Guide, Trident International University):

  • The most effective writing is centered around one main point. All supporting points, details, and examples are related to that one main point, which is often called "the thesis statement."

  • The goal of academic writing is to inform, explain, and persuade, so this statement must be extremely clear.

  • Having a thesis statement can also help to keep you focused as you write.

  • Avoid saying “In this paper I will discuss...” Instead, use your thesis statement do these things:
    state the specific topic that you will be writing about
    express the purpose of the paper
    reveal your perspective about the topic
    provide a “road map” for your paper

Your Reference List

  1. The "style" of your references must be either IEEE or ACM
  2. For more information, look at the REFWORKS tab on this page


Citing Things That Are NOT Journal Articles

  • It can be hard to cite things that are not regular journal articles
  • The pieces that you need are mostly the same for everything -- author/editor (individual or corporate), title, date, publication/database, URL, date accessed
  • Always remember to give MORE information than NOT ENOUGH
  • For example, here are the pieces from a Gartner item: title, author, and date. You can also add the name of the database (Gartner), the URL for this page, and the date you accessed it

If you are having trouble citing anything, please contact Sue the Librarian (

RefWorks is the citation manager that is supported by JHU. It is free for you.

Use the NEW RefWorks! Log in here.
  • Here are video tutorials about the NEW RefWorks
  • NEVER do searches from INSIDE RefWorks. Always search from inside the database itself, such as Compendex

Your Reference List
  1. The "style" of your references must be either IEEE or ACM
  2. To create your reference list in RefWorks, choose "Create Bibliography," then click on "Create Bibliography"
  3. Enter either  "IEEE" or "ACM"
  4. Choose the IEEE or ACM style in YELLOW :



How to Install the Tools To Insert In-text Citations

A citation inside the paper (not at the end in the bibliography) is called an "in-text citation" or an "in-line citation."
  • IEEE and ACM require "numbered" bibliographies (reference lists) -- this means that they are listed in the order that you used them in your paper.
  • Please look at this page of the Refworks guide. It will tell you how to install the add-ons.



MOST COMMON PROBLEM:  Not Having Enough Time

  • We tried to make everything perfect, and spent a lot of time on collecting and storing data… So we were not able to make full use of our data…
  • Unforeseen challenges and roadblocks that made progress slower than desired (like waiting for a device to arrive).
  • Balancing the three classes as well as trying to do good research. Some students don't have the option to reduce their schedule to two classes.
  • Getting a concrete idea that we believed could be done in one semester as well as would be a novel approach in the industry.
  • To find the right direction for further steps when the research get stuck. To describe the project backgrounds in great detail to general audience without specific knowledge about the project.
  • It would be better if we had more of an idea of what our topic was before the meeting (with Sue).
  • We wrote the report at the end instead of writing some documentation down as we go, so we had to go back in memory a lot.


Find Topics
  • Find topics in your *courses* that interest you
  • Talk to your friends or look in databases in this guide
Learn about the Topics
  • Start reviewing background information and talk with your team about some of the topics you are considering, so you can get a better idea about whether or not you will be able to do it in the time you have
  • Learn how to use Refworks so you can start your literature review NOW, and ORGANIZE the information you find so that you can keep track of it (use folders and tags to remind yourself what each article is about)

A sample Project Plan is attached at the bottom of this page.


What Should The Final Report Look Like?  What Kind of Writing Should Be Used?

At the end of the MSSI Capstone Project Requirements are examples of the general structure for your final reports:

"Report Examples: In general, all the papers published by ACM or IEEE conferences and journals can be followed for the organization of your report and the style of citations and references. The following are just a couple examples."

To find more examples, you can go to the IEEExplore (the IEEE database) or ACM Digital Library (the ACM database).

Plagiarism -- It is extremely important to make sure that your writing does not use someone else's work without properly acknowledging it. Even "paraphrasing" (putting someone else's writing into your own words) must be done in a very careful way.

These tutorials will help you learn the basics of avoiding plagiarism. You will always need to know this, not only during your academic career, but throughout your professional career, too.

Here are the instructions to get to these tutorials.