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FURI (Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative)


Remember, you are required to submit a short bibliography of at least 5 resources you reviewed for your research area, so don't forget to do a little research in the literature, in addition to the research in the lab.  It's easy to find out what your mentor has published as well as find review articles that will quickly get you up to speed on whatever you are researching.  

Searching the Literature

For your mentor you can determine their area of expertise, who are they working with and what articles/books they have written.

These questions and others are easily answered by using the Experts.ASU database.  

  1. Go to Experts.ASU
  2. To the left of the search box change "Everything" to "Profiles" and enter the name of the faculty/researcher
  3. On the results page, click on the individual's name
  4. On the individuals's profile page: 
    1. Fingerprints - major subject areas/topics
    2. Network -  who they are working with
    3. Research Output - bibliography of what they have written
    4. Projects - funded research 
    5. Similar Profiles - others working in related areas

Your bibliography must include references other than what has been written by your mentor and his/her colleagues.   Get up to speed quickly by review articles on the subject area.  In review articles, the author surveys the literature to determine what has been done and what stills remains to be accomplished; review articles are not just a listing of articles but actually provide analysis.  Also, we'll show you how to easily find more recent research.  Not only will these references be useful for bibliography but also for your poster.

First, start with finding some recent review articles:  

  1. Go to the Scopus database
  2. In the search box put your topic or subject
  3. On the results page, use the left-hand column to limit the Document Type to Review and the Years to the last 5
  4. To see a specific article, click on the "View at Publisher" link located beneath the article's title. 

Next, we'll use the same results list to find more recent articles on the same topic.  

  1. After looking at a specific review article, return to the results list and look in the far right-hand column for that entry. 
  2. The number in that right-hand column is the number of articles that have cited the review article.  In other words, these are more recent articles that found the review article to be important and/or helpful with their research.
  3. Click on the number to see a list of those articles. (To see a specific article, click on the "View at Publisher" link located beneath the article's title.)


Need to do a more extensive search on your research topic?  The following literature research strategy has been developed for undergraduate engineering majors at ASU.   


  1. Get Organized
  2. Build a Strong Foundation
  3. Where to Loo
  4. Search Strategies (Using PICO and Keywords)
  5. Style Manuals and Citation Guides


If your paper or talk is relatively short and only requires a few supporting pieces of documentation, you can probably keep a record of your searchs and your book and journal articles citations written down on paper such as in a notebook.  Be sure to keep complete "citations" for everything you read - check those citations before you return the book to the library or before you leave the photocopy/printer with your article.  

For books a complete citation includes the:

  • author(s),
  • book title,
  • publisher of the book, 
  • place where the publisher is headquartered, and
  • date of publication.
  • If you will be citing only portions of the book, be sure to keep track of the page numbers.

For journal articles a complete citation includes the:

  • author(s) of the article,
  • title of the article,
  • title of the journal,
  • volume number,
  • issue number,
  • pages the article appeared on, and
  • date of publication.
  • Some citations styles, such as APA, are now requiring the DOI (digital object identifier) of the article; DOIs are found on the online versions and look something like this:
    • doi:10.1016/j.espr.2011.08.016
    • doi/10.1063/1.3457141

But what if your assignment is for a long paper with extensive documentation?   Instead of trying to manually keep track of everything, you need to have citation management software.



The books and and journal articles you'll be using in college are written for people who are already knowledgeable about the subject.  Just as every structure needs a good foundation, you'll need to learn the basics about a topic so you'll be able to understand what your research finds. 

Start by asking yourself the broad, traditional questions: who, what, where, when, how and why? 

  • Who and/or What involve the product, process, problem or population.
    In engineering, a human population usually comes into play only in biomedical research. 
  • How and/or Why involve the improvement, investigation, or intervention you intend to apply to the Who and/or What.
  • When and/or Where involve special conditions that may effect the other questions; when or where may not be present in every research question. 

Next read to:

  • Build your knowledge base,
  • Identify trending facts, issues, cutting edge research, and 
  • Lay the foundation for asking a focused research question. 

You can get an introduction to just about any engineering concept via encyclopedias and handbooks; go to the Library Guide for your subject area and under the Resources tab on the guide, look for  Encyclopedias and Handbooks & Manuals



As an undergraduate, you'll use primarily two types of resources:

  • Books for a broad treatment of a topic or a long in-depth treatment of a sub-field of that topic, and
  • Journal Articles for an in-depth but short treatment of a specific aspect of a topic.

For Booksnbsp;use the Library One Search database.
After searching your topic, use the Content Type option in the left-hand column to limit the results set to only Book/eBooks

For Journal Articles use two different databases: 

  • Library One Search 
    After searching your topic, use the Content Type option in the left-hand column to limit the results set to only Journal Articles; you may also use the Refine Your Search: Scholarly & Peer Review option at the top of the left-hand column. 
  • EI Compendex/Inspec
    EI Compendex indexes the engineering literature back into the 1880s; Inspec indexes the physics, electrical engineering, and computer science literature.  Using this link allows you to search both databases at the same time.  Once you have a results set, use the Document Type category in the left-hand column to limit to Journal Articles.  



Most research at this level will require that you use more than one resource as each resource will cover different parts of the literature.  (Even Google can't find everything.)  Also, you may find that you have to try several times before you find the best combination of words for searching that resource.  What words you use for searching and how you ask the computer to combine them will directly affect your results, so it pays to use different word combinations and strategies. 

So how do you know what are the best words for your search?  Well, that depends on what you're looking for! 

First, you need to focus on what your research question is.  The research question consists of 4 elements:  

  • P is the product, process, problem or population to be studied
  • I is the improvement, investigation, inquiry, or intervention you plan to use on [P]
  • C
  • O is the measurable outcome

A general research question format may look like this:  For [P] will [I] or [C] provide [O] ?

PV cells [P] does Gallium [I] or Silicon [C] provide more efficient electrical production [O]?  

When you search databases, you'll use the [P] AND [I] concepts from your Research Question.  The [C] and [I] concepts will help you determine which are the best entries as you browse your results set.  

  • Start with the words you use to describe [P] AND [I] and enter these in the database's search box(es)
  • As you scan the results set:
    • Look for other terminology the authors are using in their titles and abstracts (summaries) to describe the same topic.  
    • If available, look in the left or right columns on the results screen for subject faceting (sometimes called "refine options")  to see what wording is appearing most frequently.
  • After you have found these other terms for your topic, redo your search using these new words; you'll retrieve more books/articles that are on your topic. 


Keep in mind that literature research is a not a linear process; it's not "search, read, write, turn it in".  You won't find all the good articles in your first try; you need to explore using different terminology that an author might use for your topic.  The search strategy is more of a cyclic "search, read, refocus, search again ..." as many times as is necessary before you'll find enough good articles that you will reference in your paper. 



Both style manuals and citation guides explain how to format bibliographies; a bibliography is the list of books and journal articles you cited in your paper or talk.  Your instructor will tell you in what style or format s/he wants your bibliography.   In college, the two most popular styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) and of those two, APA style works well for most engineering areas. The field of engineering as a whole does not have a preferred style but some sub-fields do (ex. IEEE Style is a common style in Electrical Engineering).   

For more information about APA style, see the library guide Citation Styles.

If your instructor specifies a different style, see the Advanced Guide for that engineering area to find links to guides for that format.

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