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EGR100: Engineering for Everyone: Design for the Future : Search Tips

Fall 2014, B. Mikic

Future and Engineering Design

EGR 100 Cover Image

 

Search Tips

Whether you are searching for books in the Five College Library Catalog, or searching for scholarly articles in a library database, it pays to be organized as you start your search. Break down searching into a three step process.

STEP 1
Write down as much information about your topic as possible. (You can use encyclopedias and other reference books to help gather background information). Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: I would like to learn about the future of engineering design and transportation.

 

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE:  future, engineering design, transportation

STEP 3
Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focussing your search.

 

Engineering
Design

 

  

 

Future
Forecasting
Revolution
Innovation
Invention
Advance
Vision
Imagineering
Disruptive technolog*

*=wildcard; will find variations in a word. In this case, those after the letter "g."                         

 

Add other terms to further narrow the search.

Transport*
Automobile*
Car*
Airplane*
bus*
subway*
 

 

You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between concepts. For instance:

(engineering OR design) AND (future OR innovation OR vision) AND (transport* OR auto OR car* OR airplane) 

Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.

Need Help?


Contact Rocco Piccinino, x2951, rpiccini@smith.edu with your questions

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