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Research Skills for Engineers

Learning modules for engineering students at the undergraduate and graduate levels

Your Place in the Research

Four Steps to Narrow Your Topic (University of Guelph)

Boolean Operators (McMaster University)

Developing a Search Strategy (University of Minnesota)

Evaluating Sources from Penn State Libraries


Often we seek information that confirms our own thoughts and feelings towards a topic. This is not research. Research and learning comes from finding sources that speak to the truth of a topic, no matter how much it hurts, or does not fit with your current ideas and beliefs.

Only by keeping personal biases in check can you begin to vet information for credibility. These steps will help you find sources that are credible and reliable in your research process. 

Personal Steps: IF I

Identify emotions attached to the topic.

Find unbiased reference sources that will provide a proper and informative overview of the topic.


Intellectual courage is needed to seek authoritative voices on the topic that may fall outside your comfort zone or thesis. 

Source Steps: APPLY

Authority established.

  • Does the author have education, experience, and expertise in the field?

Purpose/Point of view.

  • Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?


  • Does the publisher have an agenda?

List of sources (bibliography).

  • Is the evidence reliable, sensible, and accessible?

Year of publication.

  • Does the date of publication affect the information? 







Adapted from Kat Phillips at Penn State,

Using Wikipedia Effectively

Literature Reviews

Lit review process


Summarize the Lit Review


Structuring the lit review


scienitfic writing tips


creating a thesis tips