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Research Guides

MIE315: Design for the Environment

Summary of major engineering resource types

Below are some of the types of resources engineers use to find information. For more information on a resource type or for links to database where you can search for that type of information select the link to the resource type below or to the left.

Example student questions with suggested resources

a) "I need to know the material inputs for glass bottle manufacturing."

  • Try looking at online handbooks and books because this is information is pretty general.
  • Also try looking at Wikipedia, and follow the references that are cited by the article.

b) "I want to know how wine is produced."

  • Online handbooks and books would likely have information because this is a general topic. 
  • Codes and standards will also likely have information because safety is a concern for both the final product and the processes used during fabrication.

c) "I want to know what options exist for energy storage technologies"

  • This is a pretty new topic, so there may not be many books (but you can still try).
  • If you're looking for the state of current research & development, try using Compendex or Scopus and limit your search to review articles.

d) "How often does the engine on a bus need to be rebuilt?"

  • Possibly look up SAE (society of automotive engineers) Mobilus for standards and articles
  • Look for information on the website of the manufacturer of a bus engine.
  • Look for information about maintenance procedures in documents on the website of a transit operator (e.g. TTC)
  • Try contacting a person at the manufacturer or a transit operator to see if they can tell you (Hint: phone calls are harder to ignore than e-mails).

e) "How well does extruded polystyrene insulate buildings?"

  • Look at data sheets available from the manufacturer
  • Look at the building code, or use TechStreet to search ASHRAE codes
  • If you can't find information, assume a temperature difference, measure the material thickness, find material properties, and calculate the rate of heat transfer using engineering equations. 
  • If you can't find the material properties, consider designing and conducting an experiment to measure them. (have look in a handbook for this information in something like the Knovel database)

f) "Are commuter students more likely to carry an e-reader or a textbook?"

  • Search scholarly journals for studies done on this
  • If no information is available, consider surveying a group of students and analyzing the data yourself.

g) "There is a new specific type of solar panel that shows promise. I want to know how long those devices last."

Books & handbooks (online)

Books, and textbooks are usually on general topics and will help with introductory and background research. Handbooks are essential sources of technical data on all sorts of topics. They are also useful sources of background information and descriptions of theories and their applications.

With the library doors currently closed, you will need to access eBooks for your assignment. You can search for eBooks in the library catalogue by limiting your search to items "Online". Note, that the library has a new catalogue so you may want to go to the link below to get tips on how to use it.

You can also search for engineering eBooks in the technical information database Knovel.

Below are a sampling of some online resources: 

Research articles

Research articles are often on a specific research topic, and are usually written in technical terms. They may be original research, or a retrospective look (review) at what has been done in a field. Articles may be peer-reviewed (or not), conference proceedings, or journal articles.

To search for articles, use a database. Each database is slightly different and covers different resources, so you might want to search 2 or 3 databases in order to ensure you aren't missing anything!


Search tips

  1. Explore Compendex (Engineering specific) or Scopus (interdisciplinary) (access using the links below)
  2. Be sure to sort results by “Relevance”. In Scopus, the default display is sorting by "Most Recent"
  3. Experiment with the Filters – date, subject, document type
    • Subject heading filters: In Scopus, look for "Keywords" and in Compendex, look for "Controlled Vocabulary". Be sure to click on "View More" in bottom left corner of filter window to see all the subject headings
    • Document Types: In Scopus, you can narrow down your results by selecting "Review" so you only see literature review articles. 


Popular databases

Below are a list of some popular databases in mechanical and industrial engineering. You can use these databases to find resources such as journal articles.

Can't find full-text of your article?

Many databases have direct full-text links to the article online. If there is no full-text link, you must look up the journal or conference title in the UT library catalogue. 

Standards, codes & legislation

Standards are documents that describe the important features of a product, service, or system. Codes are collections of laws and rules which provide procedures to maintain uniformity and safety

Many standards can be accessed using the TechStreet, SAE Mobilus, ASTM Compass or IEEEXplore or by searching other databases accessible to UofT students as listed below in Finding standards page of the Standards & Codes Guide.

Use the Finding codes link for a starting point to help you find codes.

For laws and legislation, take a look at the website of the governing body for the area of interest.  For example, you might want to look at the some of the following links to find current consolidated acts and regulations. 


A patent is protection granted by a national government for an invention. This protection excludes others from making, using or selling an invention for a period of up to 20 years. More more information on patents and how to search for them use the link below.

Grey literature

Grey literature is anything that has been published outside of "normal" publication routes (e.g. literature not published through commercial publishing companies or academic presses). It can include publications such as government documents, technical reports, data and websites. Below are some suggested starting points to searching for various types of grey literature. 


Government documents

Government documents written by municipal, provincial or federal governments containing information about a particular area of the country or topic. They may be in the form of reports, statistics datasets, maps, etc. Below are some suggested links to help get you started on finding government information:

Technical reports

Use the link below to find out more information about what a technical report is and where to find them. 


Data can be found in a variety of places. Below are just some starting points where you can find data. 

Websites of professional associations