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Bevier Engineering Library
Library Research Guide for Engineers
The Web can be a valuable tool for finding information.
However, anyone can publish a Web page about anything; therefore,
a lot of the information on the Web might not be accurate or have gone
through any sort of professional review system.
The Web, or the part of the Web that can be accessed
using search engines like Yahoo! or Altavista, is not a good
place to look for current research. As you have learned in these pages,
current research is found in journal articles, trade magazine articles,
technical reports and conference papers. Although researchers can post
their findings on the Web just like anyone else, they generally follow
the more traditional means of scientific communication, which means publishing
results in the above-mentioned ways.
It's true that many of
the articles and papers you find in your research will be available in
full-text formats on a Web-based service like Elsevier's Science Direct
other electronic journals. These resources are Web-based, however,
and they are not part of the Web that is free and accessed by search engines.
Instead, the University of Pittsburgh purchases these services and they
are only available to you when you are using a library computer or are
dialing in from home using the PITT network.
Using Web Sites for Research
Use traditional search engines to conduct the following types of Web
- Look for information about engineering companies.
Most major companies have extensive Web sites that contain
- basic information about their products
- financial information
- press releases
- annual reports
- location of corporate and manufacturing headquarters
- employment information.
Keep in mind that this information is produced and written by companies
who want to look their best; therefore, the Web site might not tell the
whole story. Articles about financial difficulties or environmental abuse,
for example, will not appear in the pages.
- Look up patents and trademarks.
As discussed in the Patents section of these
pages, patents and trademarks can be accessed through several Web sites.
- Search for information produced by the United States
The United States government is one of the largest publishers in the world. It is also a major employer of engineers in many of its agencies and departments, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to NASA to the National Weather Service. It is, therefore, a good source for information in the fields of the environment, transportation, energy, computers and the environment. All government agencies are required to publish a great deal of their information on the World Wide Web; however, this information is rarely indexed by traditional search engines.
To access government sites related to science, use sites such as Science.gov a gateway to selected science information provided by U.S. Government agencies or FedWorld which is maintained by NTIS (National Technical Information Service). For access to other government sites, go to the ULS Subject Guide to Government Information
To search out non-Web-based information published by the Federal government, connect to the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. This resource lets you search citations for the records of the Government Printing Office since 1994. After you have identified publications you are interested in, connect to PITTCat to see if the ULS owns those items.
- Access information about professional engineering
Professional Associations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers
(ASCE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) or the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics (IEEE) act as governing bodies for their
professions. Their Web sites will provide information about
- publications published by the organization
- job listings in the field
- organization bylaws and procedures.
Links to selected engineering associations are available on the Engineering
Subject Guide under "Associations."
- Search product catalogs.
Search the contents of engineering product catalogs such as Sigma Aldrich,
Grainger, Mc-Master-Carr Supply Company and metal Vuyers Mart, Ltd. Links
to these catalogs are found on the Engineering
Subject Guide under "Engineering Product Catalogs."