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Research Guides

APS111: Engineering Strategies & Practice (2019)

Where to look for technical and engineering design information

Here are some examples of resource types that could be used to support your design claims (click on the link to find search tips for each resource type):

Books & eBooks

Search for books using broad terms. Terms like material properties of woven polypropylene in the use of creating water control bags may be too specific. Instead use a term like woven polypropylene.

Different people use different words to describe the same thing so if you do not get results try searching for synonyms. For example instead of woven polypropylene you may want to try a less technical word like burlap. You can find books and eBooks through the library catalogue and Knovel.


Handbooks are an engineer's best friend! They give quick reference information about design, manufacturing, materials information and include data tables. Many handbooks can be found in the library or online. Search for handbooks using broad terms like metals handbook or design for accessibility. You can find books and eBooks through the library catalogue and Knovel.

Standards, Codes and Legislation

Standards are documents that describe the important features of a product, service or system.

For example, CSA Standard Z262.34-00 Ice Hockey Pucks specifies a hockey puck's material, size, mass, hardness at room temperature and test methods.

By applying standards, organizations can help ensure their products and services are consistent, compatible, interchangeable, safe and effective. Standards can be voluntary or mandated.

U of T has four major online standard databases.

Find more information about standards, codes, legislation and standard collections at U of T, use guide below:


A patent is protection granted by a national government for an invention. Patents show how an invention has a novel design or use. Find more information on patents in the guide below. You can also do a keyword search for patents using Google Patents.

Journal articles

Journal articles contain original research results which can be used to support design claims. Journal articles are found by searching databases which contain technical journal articles, review articles, conference proceedings, professional journal articles (e.g. trade publications) articles, conference proceedings and other scholarly sources. 

Using technical terms, will yield more accurate search results in article databases. You broaden your search by using the operator OR between synonyms the same concept or narrow your search by adding concepts together with the operator AND.

For example: (flood OR storm water) AND accessibility AND transportation

The databases below are places where you can start searching:


Open web searching is a useful tool for finding information. For example,  you may be able to find some government, consultant, and organizational reports. Below are some tips for finding more reliable webpages:

  • use webpages that cite their sources
  • avoid citing commercial webpages or ones with a lot of ads
  • look for reliable sources with URLs that end with: .org (non-profit), .edu (educational institutions), or .gov (government)
  • do not cite Wikipedia or similar user-edited sites. Instead look for the reference section to find what sources were used