Category Archives: Research Help

Dissertations: On the shelf and online…

Dissertations are a great way to incorporate recent research into your reading, and now that’s it’s common for people to publish open access digital copies, they’re a lot easier to access.

You can look for UT Theses and Dissertations in the Library Catalog or in the UT digital repository. If the item is newer there might only be digital version instead of a physical manuscript on the shelves. To find dissertations in the catalog go to Advanced Search and make sure to select “Dissertations/Theses” in the Location field.

The Texas Digital Library is a great resource for researching dissertations within Texas universities. On their website, you can see which universities are included in the collections, and search specifically within one university’s collection or multiple collections. If you don’t have a specific dissertation or thesis in mind, you can put a subject or keyword term in the “words in text” field, or go to Advanced Search for more specific search options.

Dissertations and Theses: Full Text is a great database for finding most dissertations in North America, with some international coverage. The database includes complete pdfs of many newer dissertations, and detailed records of older/not freely available dissertations. The database also shows where the dissertations have been cited, which is another helpful research tool.

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations is another useful tool, although their catalog is not as comprehensive as Dissertations and Theses: Full Text. Their website also has useful links for international sources.

WorldCat is a good place to look if you are trying to find the location of a specific thesis. Choose “WorldCatDissertations” in the “search in database field.” If a dissertation is not online, you can also make an interlibrary loan request through InterLibrary Services.

Searching Open Access

Even though we encourage researchers to use library databases to find resources, we realize that people don’t stay in school forever. For this reason it’s important to know about where to look for quality, open access resources. Authors might publish open access materials in an institutional repository, open access journal, or on a personal website. Fortunately, there are search engines that process data from these sources and simplify the search process!

We tested out three open access search engines to see how effective they are: BASE, CORE, and OAIster.

BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) BASE harvests and indexes metadata from repositories that use Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. BASE Search provides access to more than 40 million articles from more than 2,400 sources. BASE is also a registered OAI Service Provider.
Author name searches were successful in providing academic, open access items.

CORE (Connecting Repositories) Core Portal allows you to search and navigate scientific publications aggregated from a wide range of Open Access repositories.CORE lists 281 repositories as having been harvested.
We got poor return rates on entering author names in the search field, maybe because the collection is not as extensive as BASE. Keyword Searches were more successful.

OAISter-OAIster harvest open access metadata: it includes more than 25 million records from more than 1,100 sources. We had better return on author searches in OAIster Database than CORE, but we still had the most success in BASE. This could be because BASE has harvested more sources. Another interesting discovery is that author searches in BASE and OAIster yielded different sources…although there is no one stop shopping in open access searching, you still have some good options!

When Should I Use Google Scholar?

Google Scholar has an ambiguous status in the library and research world. Obviously, it is powered by the Google, which is kind of a dirty word in academic research. Also, the fact that it is free throws further suspicion on its quality, particularly when libraries pay lots of money for database access. Finally, there have been issues of inaccuracies and incompleteness in citations, and a lack of clear criteria for what makes a work “scholarly” enough for Google Scholar.
On the other hand, many academic libraries (including UT) link to Google Scholar on their websites, and provide tutorials on how to use it. By providing link resolver access, libraries are clearly collaborating with Google Scholar and anticipating that students will use Google Scholar to conduct searches. Students might find Google Scholar more user friendly than an academic database.
You might be wondering, is Google Scholar the best for my field and topic? There are varying reports on the comprehensiveness and quality of searches in Google Scholar, and since the algorithms for Google Scholar will be different from other databases, it might be worthwhile to compare a Google Scholar search with another database search.
To make sure you are getting the most out of your Google Scholar search, check out this tutorial and the database page on the UT Library website. Go to Research By Subject to find out more about subject specific resources.

Work Consulted:

Neuhaus, C., Neuhaus, E., & Asher, A. (2008). Google Scholar Goes to School: The Presence of Google Scholar on College and University Web Sites. Journal Of Academic Librarianship, 34(1), 39-51.

Researching Wind Power

Looking at wind energy in Texas could be an interesting topic for exploring renewable energy, since Texas is the biggest wind producer in the United States.

Gale Virtual Reference Library is a good place to start with a new topic. It provides access to encyclopedias and other reference sources. It’s kind of like searching Wikipedia, except you can actually cite these sources in a paper! When I do a keyword search for “wind energy” I get 495 results.

Once you have a better idea of what you’re interested in, you might want to move on to searching databases for journal articles. Some good search terms might be “wind power,” “wind energy,” “wind farm,” or “wind turbine” to name a few. If you want to focus your research on Texas, you can add “Texas” to one of the search fields. Here are some database suggestions:

Academic Search Complete is a great database for just about any subject.

Compendex and IEEE Xplore are two great engineering databases. In Compendex, Make sure to select the “Subject/Title/Abstract” option for Texas, otherwise author affiliation will show up. IEEE Xplore will also allow you to sort the results by most cited.

Business Source Complete will be a good database to explore the economic and commercial aspects of wind power.

GeoRef and Environment Index– These databases will be useful for focusing on the environmental impact of wind energy.

Web of Science is another good database for this topic. You can sort the results by how many times an article has been cited. You can also do a cited reference search to find works that cited an article you liked.

To read up on wind energy in the news, LexisNexis offers comprehensive coverage from 1980 until today. You can select your source type (“newspapers” is probably going to provide the most sources), or a specific source title such as the Austin-American Statesman.

Google Scholar can also be a handy tool for finding citations. Make sure to utilize the advanced search option to refine your results. For example, when I type “wind energy texas” and hit enter, I get 270,000 results. When I click the arrow in the search field and select “in the title of the article” instead of “anywhere in article,” I get 74 results, which is much more manageable!

For more suggestions, check out our Energy Resources Research Guide, and don’t hesitate to contact the library with questions!

Interested in fracking?

Fracking has been  in the Texas news quite a bit lately, due to ongoing water supply problems and the significant use of water in oil drilling. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is clearly of interest to anyone concerned with environmental issues and oil production in Texas. Here are some starting points for researching this issue:

OnePetro is a great database for literature on oil and gas exploration and production industry. When I type “fracking” into the basic search, 50 results come up. When I type “hydraulic fracturing” into the search box, 20, 200 results show up. Wording is key! You can further refine your search by using the advanced search option.

Ei Compendex is another useful engineering database. A search for “fracking” yields 54 articles, whereas searching with “hydraulic fracturing” yields 11, 870 results.

Academic Search Complete is another great database for just about any subject. Interestingly enough, Academic Search Complete does not make a significant distinction between “fracking” (1,056 results) and “hydraulic fracturing” (1,200 results). Another neat thing about Academic Search Complete is that related images are displayed to the right of the text results.

A keyword search of “hydraulic fracturing” in our catalog also draws up several results for books, ebooks, and other materials.

Check out our Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering Resources page for more suggestions, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

Researching the impact of a disaster…

A federal judge recently approved a settlement of $4 billion in penalties for BP due to the death of 11 oil rig workers in the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Although the story of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is far from over, now might be an interesting time to look at research on changes in the oil industry, analysis of the causes and effects of the disaster, and of course, legal issues

Academic Search Complete is great database for pretty much any subject. Once you are in Academic Search Complete, you can further refine your search by selecting subject databases. For example, under “choose databases” you can select Environment Index if you want to focus on impact on the environment.

OnePetro is another great database, particularly for technical aspects of petroleum engineering.

For more suggestions check out our Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Research Guide.

As always, if you have trouble finding something don’t hesitate to e-mail us!


HOW TO Request an Item from Storage

The UT Libraries own more than 8 million volumes, and we don’t have space for all of them on our shelves. Although some of our collections are located off campus, you can easily request an item or article to be sent from storage.

When you search for an item in the library catalog, you’ll see three crucial pieces of information that will let you know how to find the item. For our purposes today, we’ll focus on the column on the left. Location tells you which library owns the item and where specifically you’ll find it. You might see “Engineering Library” if the item is in the stacks, “Engineering Library Browsing Collection” if it’s on the Engineering Light shelf, or “Engineering Library Reserves” if it’s a textbook held behind the circulation desk. But what about if the record says the item is in “Library Storage”? That means the item is held off-campus at a storage facility (so you won’t find it if you come in to the library), but you can make a request to have the item sent here for pickup.

To request an item from Storage:

  1. Click on the “Request” link above the search bar.
  2. Log in with your UT EID and password, and confirm that you are requesting the correct item. In the example above, you would want to make sure you’re requesting the correct volume of the journal.
  3. Finally, select a pickup location from the list of libraries.

In three to five days, your item will be delivered to the library of your choice, and you’ll get a email letting you know it’s ready for pickup.

If you only need one or two specific journal articles, there’s a simple workaround so you don’t have to request the entire bound volume. Go to the InterLibrary Services homepage and log in with your UT EID and password (if it’s your first time using ILS, you’ll need to enter some additional information). Choose Article under New Requests and enter the citation information for your article. You’ll receive an electronic copy of the article in a few days. This service is only available for books in Library Storage, so check your item record carefully. Read the full instructions from ILS here.

Feel free to contact an Engineering Librarian if you need additional help.

Libraries Help Students Through Crunch Time, 11/8-11/10

AUSTIN, Texas — As students face the end-of-semester crunch of deadlines for assignments, research papers and presentations, seven University of Texas Libraries locations will sponsor “Crunch Time 2011,” promoting services including on-site assistance, subject librarian consultations and the UT Libraries Ask a Librarian IM and email services.

Crunch Time” focuses on making students aware of relevant services at a point in the semester when they are likely to need them most, with staff on hand to help students tackle research dilemmas and expedite the process of finding authoritative resources to support their semester-end work.

Crunch Time” takes place November 8-10, and features giveaways, timesaving handouts and the ready availability of staff at service points for both quick questions and research consultations.

“I’m thrilled to have seven UT Libraries locations participating in Crunch Time this year,” says Jenifer Flaxbart, Head Librarian for Reference and Information Services at the Perry-Castañeda Library and coordinator of the program. “With more Libraries locations involved, the reach of this effort will be extended and even more students will be connected with the information they want at point of need.”

A brief survey of service options is part of this year’s program, accessible via EID workstations across the Libraries. Students who participate will be entered in a prize drawing.

Crunch Time 2011” takes place at the Benson Latin American Collection, the Classics Library, the Engineering Library, the Fine Arts Library, the Life Science Library, the Perry-Castañeda Library and the Physics Mathematics Astronomy Library.

“Research is not always a straight-forward process, and Crunch Time provides a great opportunity to let students know about all of the services we offer that will help them find the information they need,” says Karen Holt, librarian at the Fine Arts Library.

Crunch Time page:

New NoodleBib Tutorials

Writing a paper is stressful enough, but creating a bibliography can be a nightmare. If you’ll be doing research this semester, you’ll want to bookmark the UT Libraries’ great new series of tutorials for using NoodleBib. NoodleBib is an easy-to-use resource that helps you create correct citations in APA, MLA or Chicago styles and organize them into a downloadable bibliography.

These videos will show you how to set up a NoodleBib account, how to create a new project, how to add new sources to your bibliography, how to share your project with a group and more.

If you need additional help with citations or research, feel free to contact the library.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back, students, faculty and staff! And a huge welcome to all the incoming first-years and transfers! If you haven’t stopped by the Engineering Library yet, come visit us in ECJ 1.300. Our fall hours are here.

You might have noticed our new posters out on the ECJ plaza or at the entrance to the library. There are lots of ways you can contact your Engineering Library this semester, so here’s a little more information about them:

Visit: Stop by ECJ 1.300 during library hours to ask a question or get research assistance. Or just come in to study—we have lots of seating and it’s super quiet (and cold!).

Web site: The library’s web site is Bookmark this page for tutorials and guides for doing research in engineering.

Mobile site: Try for engineering help on the go.

Email: Our email address is Send us your questions about research, citations or just about anything engineering-related, and a librarian will answer you soon.

Phone: Call the library at 512-495-4511 during library hours for a quick answer.

Chat: The Engineering Library chat service is new this semester! Look for the chat box in the sidebar of the Engineering Library website (see the screenshot above). If the light is green, an Engineering librarian is available to answer your questions.

If an Engineering librarian is not available to chat, you can try the UT Libraries Ask a Librarian chat service. Their hours can be found here.

Facebook: Like the McKinney Engineering Library for Engineering news, UT news and library news.

And last but not least, there’s this blog, which is updated several times a week with news and announcements.

Good luck in the new semester, and we’ll see you soon!