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Durham University

University Library

Research skills

The following information is intended to help Engineering and Computing Sciences students locate academic literature and sources for their research. It is by no means an exhaustive list. Please refer to the Library Catalogue if you looking for a particular book or journal title, or contact the Engineering and Computing Sciences Liaison Librarian, Colin Theakston for any specific advice.  

Defining and Refining a Research Topic

Encyclopaedias provide short overviews of a topic, theory, idea, concept or a person's work.Dictionaries provide short definition of a scholarly term or word. They can be a good starting point for an overview of a topic and refining it further.

Some useful reference resources for Engineering and Computing Sciences are:

Finding journal articles

Online databases search for journal articles. This enables you to search for information on subjects when you don't know which book or journal you need. Some useful databases for Engineering and Computing Sciences are:

  • IEEE Xplore - Provides full-text access to IEEE transactions, IEEE and IEE journals and magazines published since 1998.
  • ACM digital library - Provides bibliographic information, abstracts, reviews, and the full-text for articles published in the Association for Computing Machinery periodicals and proceedings since 1985.
  • Computer abstracts international database - Provides access to information about developments in computer science.
  • Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers - online access to all parts of the Proceedings of the IMechE and its archive
  • ICE Virtual Library - The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Virtual Library archive contains every peer-reviewed technical paper published by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) from 1836.
  • Web of Knowledge - Contains several databases (including the Web of Science) and has wide ranging subject coverage, providing access to articles published in over 10,000 journals. The referencing software EndNote Web is available here.
  • Science Direct - Database for scientific research.
  • Google Scholar - Freely available scholarly search engine. You can configure Google Scholar to show The 'Durham ConneXions' button off-campus, and this is automatically shown on campus. You can use 'Durham ConneXions' to check if the Library has the article available.

The library has produced a variety of tutorials to help search the different databases.


British Standards Online offers a searchable index to British Standards with access to the full text.

Internet Resources

  • TechXtra - access to e-prints, technical reports, theses, articles, news, trade magazines and job announcements.
  • Odysci - web portal with: technical papers published by the main publishers in the computer science and electronic engineering areas; ranked lists of papers and their links; opportunities to collaborate with peers by reading and posting comments about papers.

Evaluation of Resources

The Critical Thinking Exercise from Teesside University can help critical evaluation of information sources.

Research Repositories and Conference Proceedings

  • e-Print archive- up to date e-print service which presents the latest papers in physics and related disciplines, mathematics, nonlinear science, computer science, and quantitative biology.
  • DBLP - Provides information about major Computer Science conference proceedings. Also includes information on the contents of key journals.

Newspapers and Magazines

  • Info Trac - A searchable collection of full text newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian and The Independent.
  • New Scientist - Available in the Bill Bryson Library


E-books allow you to search within the contents of the book, unlike the library catalogue which just searches for book titles.

  • IEEE-Wiley eBooks Library - available via the IEEE Xplore database - full text access to IEEE Wiley ebook titles from 1974-2015
  • Myilibrary - collection of e-books from a range of publishers.
  • NetLibrary - collection of e-books from a range of publishers.
  • Google Books - contains some freely available e-books