Academic research is is a multi-step process that doesn't always go in a straight line; you may find yourself returning to previous stages as you refine your topic. Steps include
We recommend you become familiar with the types of sources required for your research project:
Databases listed here are good general-purpose databases for engineering and physical science research. See the subject guides for lists of recommended, discipline-specific databases, plus contact information for that subject librarian.
Use this encyclopedia for background research on a topic, to refine or narrow a research topic, and confirm terminology (that you'll also use in subject-specific databases).
Academic Search Complete indexes citations, abstracts, and full text from journal articles, books, reports, and conference proceedings in all subject disciplines. Full text provided in PDF and HTML. Searchable cited references are provided for nearly 1,000 journals. Searches can be limited to peer reviewed sources. Indexing 1887-present, most content 1980s-present.
Academic Search Complete provides articles from both popular sources like magazines and newspapers that will give a general overview of a topic, and from scholarly sources that will go into much more depth. Use this database for general research into any science topic.
LexisNexis Academic is a collection of hundreds of databases covering topics such as news, business, legal research, people, and company information. The default start search form uses the Easy Search method in the General search tab. Select Power Search for more advanced search options. Use the Sources link to choose from individual databases. All content is full text in HTML. News sources 1977-present; legal source 1789-present.
Use LexisNexis Academic to find recent news articles on science topics and to find people working in a research area. Newspaper articles will be written for a popular audience, which will provide a general understanding of a research topic before you move on to scholarly articles.
Opposing Viewpoints offers over 14,000 pro/con viewpoint essays on controversial topics and current events, plus thousands of topic overviews, primary source documents, biographies of social activists, court case overviews, related full-text periodical articles, statistical tables, and multimedia content.
Use Opposing Viewpoints when researching controversial science topics or ethical aspects of those topics. The reference citations listed with each essay will provide a starting point for more in-depth research.
Annual Reviews publishes comprehensive, critical, primary-literature reviews (HTML and PDF) for 40 scientific disciplines within the biological and medical, engineering and physical, and social sciences including economics. It is a useful starting point for upper level research because it synthesizes the vast amount of primary research literature and identifies the principal contributions in each field. 1939-present.
Review articles (also available from many other databases) are a great starting point for advanced research on a science topic, because they digest the current state of knowledge. The references listed with each summary article will also serve as a starting point for further research.
Science Citation Index, a subset of Web of Science, indexes citations, abstracts, and some full text from journal articles, books, and conference proceedings in all science disciplines. You can search cited references. 1975-present (older data available in print).
Science Citation Index is a comprehensive science and engineering database, covering hundreds of scholarly journals. Its features that analyze sets of citations is a vital step in advanced research.