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HSD 610: Human & Social Dimensions in Science & Technology Colloquium

Library and Internet resources for HSD topics.

Types of Literature (and where to find them)

Background Information

When you are working in an area for which your knowledge is a little thin you'll need to keep resources at hand that provide definitions and descriptions of information in that subject.   : 

  • Knovel 
    Covers dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks for all areas of engineering and some sciences.
  • Synthesis  
    Contains introductions to mostly electrical and computer engineering topics - articles are mid-range in length (~80 pages) 

Science and engineering information

    • Articles (scholarly journals and trade magazines)
      Articles must be covered in any type of engineernig literature search as they are the most likely place where scholarly research will be published and some researcher select journal articles to be the first place where they publish their latest research.  Articles generally cover current research of a very specific topic and are usually 5-20 pages in length.   
      To find them, use:
    • Books  
      Books cover a specific topic in depth or are used to provide an introduction to a broad area of interest; they are usually 200-500 pages.    The broad introduction type of book is useful when you need background information.   Books that are an in-depth treatment frequently have chapters written by different authors, essentially making them the equivalent of long journal articles; these book chapters are generally treated as journal articles and indexed in many of the same databases as journal articles are.    
      To find them, use:
    • Conference Proceedings
      Some researchers prefer to introduce their research at a conference rather than in a journal article.  If the proceedings of a conference have been published commercially or by a society, they are frequently covered in the same databases that cover journal articles.
      To find them, use:
    • Dissertations and theses
      Dissertations and theses are useful if you are trying to find information from an individual who may be new to a field and therefore not yet published in journal articles or presented at conferences.   Most of the material found in dissertation and theses will eventually turn up in journal articles IF the author goes on to academic research.  Dissertations an theses may be important to those trying to establish the first public instance of a technology.
      To find them, use:
    • Patents
      Patents are a grant from an agency (usually governmental) that provides the inventor with certain rights which vary from country to country but usually include the right to exclude others from manufacturing the invention.  Searching for patents is essential if you plan to start a new technology from scratch - you need to determine if someone else has already patented the technology so that you do not waste time and money recreating something that you could buy or lease immediately.
      To find them, use:
    • Standards
      Many processes and products are subject to standards (sometimes codes and regulations); you'll need to investigate this area if you are manufacturing and/or creating new technology.
      To find them, use:
    • Technical Reports
      Those who received U.S. government funds for research are required to provide a report on the research, however, not all of these reports are available to the general public.  If your project is in an area for which the U.S. government funds research, you should determine if reports are available.  These technical reports can be difficult to find - see me if you are having difficulties finding any reports you've identified.  Please note that reports generated from private research funds are seldom available to the public. 
      To find them, use:
    • U.S. government agency publications
      If a U.S. agency is involved in your area, look for their publications as well.
      To find them, use:
      • Agency's web site

In addition to science and engineering information, you may also need:


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