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EENG/MENG 4380: Mechanical Engineering Design

Research Strategy

A library research strategy is a plan of action that gives direction to your research. It includes:

Considering Types of Resources
Do you need background information that reference resources would provide? Do you need recent developments within a particular field that scholarly articles would provide? Do you wish to know the context of your topic that a book could provide? Or, do you need current news and understanding about events that newspapers and magazines provide?
Employing Search Strategies
What tools can you deploy when searching databases? Tools like Booleans, limiters, phrase searching, nesting, etc.?
Consider Library Resources and Their Strengths/Weaknesses
Which databases are best for particular subjects or specialties? Would ASME or IEEE be better for your project's topic?

Types of Resources

Reference Material
Provides basic information on topics. These include dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.
Scholarly Articles
Provides current information on specific topics. Scholarly refers to the "Peer Review" process the article went through. While many are online, you may need to use a physical journal volume located in the periodicals department on the 2nd floor.
Provides information in context. Authors gather information from various resources to create a comprehensive examination of one topic.
Magazines and Newspapers
Provides current opinions and reporting on events.

Evaluating Information

The CRAAP Test is a list of potential questions to determine if the information you have is accurate and reliable. Keep in mind, the type of source you need will depend on your research topic. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your need.

Currency: The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevancy: The importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: The source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source? Examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Checking for Peer-Review Status

  1. First, go to Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. Note: You can find this database from the Cornette Library's homepage by clicking on "Databases A-Z", narrowing to 'U', and then clicking Ulrichsweb.
  2. Search for your journal's title, ISSN, or other search terms.
  3. From the resulting list, find and click on your journal.
  4. If Ulrichs believes the journal to be refereed, you will see a "Yes" next to the "Refereed" row. This is a good first/second step to confirming the peer reviewed status of your journal.
  5. We can go deeper by clicking on the Journal's website.
  6. Look for their statement on peer review. Most credible academic journals will have such a section somewhere on their page, often under a section for potential authors.