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


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
    --- "cyber security" OR cybersecurity -- it's used both ways. You should also add "information security" OR "computer security"
  • 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."

Review Articles

  • Regular journal articles are narrowly focused on a topic
  • Review articles give more of an overview of the topic, usually including things such as history and background, development, current state of the art, and possible future uses or areas of research
  • Some databases have a box you can check to choose review articles, including Scopus and PubMed:

Scopus -- Do your search, and scroll down to see the filters on the left. If any of the items in your search results are review articles, "Document type" will show them:

In other databases such as Compendex, put the word   review   in the TITLE:


Access Engineering

These are searchable textbooks nad handbooks. The results include book chapters, videos, and more.

Be patient and try different approaches, such as:

  • Put your phrase into the search box on top, then use Subject (on left) to narrow your results
  • Remember to search phrases (words that you want to appear together) with quotation marks

Library Catalog -- Books

Search the library catalog for books about the general topic. Always refine your searches by date, format, or other characteristic.

For example:

  • "solar cells" -- This phrase is in the TITLE, and this search is limited to FORMAT of "book" and "online," from 2015+

  • biodiesel technolog* -- These two words are also in the TITLE, with the same limits as above. (But there are NO quotation marks around these words, because this is not a phrase and we don't care whether these words appear together or not.)
Use journal articles to get:
  • a narrow or specific part of your topic
  • up-to-date information

To find databases about ALL topics: library home page --> Databases --> "Browse list of databases" (link is under the search box)

  • To see what information is in a database, click "More Info" next to its name:

Who else is doing this kind of work? How many times has this article been cited?

Have you found a great article about your topic?

  • See who cited that article (that is, mentioned it in *their* article)
  • See how many times that article has been cited by other authors

If the author of your favorite article was cited by someone else, there is a good chance that the citing author (that is, the person who mentioned *your* article) is doing similar work. (Remember that newer articles will not have had time to be cited by other authors.)

Databases that tell you the citing authors, and how many times an article has been cited, are:

  1. Scopus -- (see screen shots below)
  2. Web of Science -- (see screen shots below)
  3. Google Scholar -- Under each item on the left, it gives the number of citations
    NOTE: Google Scholar's number will always be too high, because it adds additional things such as lecture notes and Powerpoint slides.

In Scopus: Do your search, change the Sort to "Cited by (highest)," and click the number under "Cited by" next to your article:


In Web of Science: Do your search using "Cited References":

On the results page, click on "Citing Articles" so that the little arrow points down (meaning "highest to lowest"), and then click on the number next to the article whose citing articles you want to see:

Use IEEE style to cite your sources.
  • Citing Sources guide --> More Styles [click the IEEE tab]
    The first link on the IEEE tab (underlined in the screen shot) is the same document noted by Professor Thon.

  • The other links on that IEEE page give more information.
  • For sources that are NOT articles or books, don't panic! Look at the 2nd link's Table of Contents. If you're not sure what kind of source you have, please send me a note (

    The most important thing is to make sure that all the necessary pieces are in your citations.


NOTE: Government and corporate web sites often do not have individual authors. In those cases, the publishing entity (e.g., DoE; Microsoft) is the author. Here is an example:

  • This has the corporate author (spelled out), the title of the publication or article or online article, the place of publication, the place of publication, and the year
  • For web sites, Prof. Thon would also like you to add the URL and date accessed

TIP: Cite the ORIGINAL item, if humanly possible.

  • That is, do not cite something that mentions something else; e.g., a news article that mentions "recent data" or "a study”
  • If a non-scholarly item mentions a government report, a study about something, or pretty much anything else, find the original item
  • If you can’t find that, look for more information from other (dependable) sources

Writing Help

Use a citation manager to export citations FROM databases INTO the manager.
  • RefWorks is the citation manager that JHU gives all of us for free. Log into RefWorks
  • Put citations into folders, and create a bibliography in whatever style you want
  • NEVER search from *within* RefWorks; always search from the database itself
Example of using folders to help you organize your final report:

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.

Link to the tutorials.


NOTE: If you are using a trade name as a search term, you may not find much in these databases.
To search trade names, use the business databases and other sources listed in the tab "Business and News."

Library Home Page --> Guides by Topic --> Engineering
  • This guide's Online Resources page lists databases with articles from scholarly journals, trade journals, and other sources.
1. START with Compendex -- This is the biggest, best database for articles and conference papers in *all* engineering fields.
  • "Add search field" means "add another row"
  • Check the date! This database goes back to 1884!
  • Put words in the title, or somewhere else, or mix them up

2. SCOPUS -- Broad science/engineering/medicine database with scholarly articles and more
  • The "+" on the end of the row means "add another row"
  • You must click on LIMIT for everything under it to show
  • Fix the date!

3. Other databases in the lists for Engineering and Energy and Environmental Policy.


  1. Business news:  ABI/INFORM includes news about new products and other business-related topics
  2. Regular news: Guides by Topic --> News and Newspapers -- The sources under "Core" are current U.S. newspapers

1. START --> U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- take your time and explore.

  • Try "Sources and Uses"; each category has a "data" tab

2. U.S. Department of Energy (not a great search engine)

---- HINT:  Use this Google trick to find U.S. government info:  to your search terms, add . (This also sometimes gets information from U.S. states.)

3. Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) -- They have many different kinds of information; for example, here's their HydroSource Program

4. GIS Maps -- At EIA's Layer Information for Interactive State Maps are datasets. A "shapefile" is one layer in a geospatial map. For example, you can start with a map of U.S., then put on shapefile of all the locations of nuclear plants.

  • If you want to use ArcGIS, go to the research guide for ESRI Software Access and tell them what you want to do

5. Sage Data (formerly Data Planet) -- Department of Energy (DoE) data that you can export. Try browsing by Subject and look at "Energy Resources and Industries" or use the search box.

6. Statista -- Easy to search, a lot of industry data, includes studies and reports, and you can export the data.

Here are two main ways to find out about the history of your technology.
Review Articles: 

  • In your Compendex searches, add the word "review" to the TITLE 

Patents For CURRENT patents, look at this guide's Patents page, for many screen shots and other information that will help you.

The easiest patent database to use is Derwent Innovations Index -- there's a lot of information about this database on that same Patents page.
(For more patents help, contact Jim Gillispie at

  • Try some search words until you get results that look relevant. Be patient and don't forget to try singulars *and* plurals
  • The default is "latest date," so look at the last patent on the last page, which will be the earliest in that search
  • Choose "ORIGINAL" to see the real patent
  • This isn't a perfect a perfect way of determining the earliest use of your technology, but it will give you a general idea, as well as descriptions and drawings of various designs of it