Skip to Main Content

Engineering Resources: Databases and Technical Standards


Profile Photo
Amy Seipke
Mardigian Library, RM 1159
University of Michigan - Dearborn

Introduction to Databases

As used in a library context, databases are large collections of information, usually from varied creators, which are collected into a form that allows them to be searchable using simple keyword searches or advanced search queries using Boolean operators and can be refined with through the use of filters. 

The information contained in the databases we provide access to at through the Mardigian Library is wide ranging including: articles, ebooks, technical standards, theses & dissertations, streaming video, conference proceedings, and datasets. The databases that I thought would be relevant to your likely research areas are found in this page, separated by the kind of information they contain and by the format through which the information is presented.

To do research that significantly crosses over into other areas of interest please visit the complete list of databases at UM-Dearborn by following THIS LINK and sort by your subject of interest.

To see the curated list of resources available in every format and for each engineering topic use THIS LINK.

Search Tips

The Mardigian Search on the library's home page is a very powerful tool in that it can perform a federated search of all the materials we have access to here at once. Use it as a starting point to help you find where to start your search but please do go into the individual databases that best fit your information need in order to do advanced searches and return all the best quality information on your topic. 

If you are looking for articles you can read, in full, right now, limit your search to "full-text". Indexes, abstracts, and citation databases will help you find that certain material exists but will not link you to it. If you do find a citation you want to read in full, visit our Interlibrary Loan Guide for directions on obtaining a copy.

If you are looking for articles that have been vetted by others in the industry prior to their publication, limit your search to "peer-reviewed only".

How to Search a Database

1. Select which database you want to search.

If you are unsure of where to start the Mardigian Search box on the library homepage is a federated search which can look inside many of the databases and journals we subscribe to and can help you to see which resources are returning useful results. You can then dig deeper into those promising resources to get the most targeted and useful sources for your particular need. This page organizes the databases that would be most useful to people researching in the fields of engineering, computer science, and mathematics by topic and format.

2. Select your search terms and decide which connectors you will need between your terms

Follow the procedure outlined in one of these linked pdf to find a good starting point for your search. Remember that your search will necessarily evolve as you narrow in on the best search terms to fit your precise information need.

3. Perform your search.

4. Use the filters available in the database to limit the results and to begin evaluation

Once you have found the search terms that return the most helpful results you will need to use the filters built into each database to narrow your results to only the most relevant and highest quality. The filters are different between each database you will encounter but some of the commonalities and tips on which are most useful are listed in the linked document above.

5. Analyze your results. Did you find what you needed?

If you didn't find anything useful, try looking in a different database or go back to the library homepage and start with a search in the Mardigian Search box to get ideas where to look more in-depth.

If you found some results but you need more or need to fine tune your results, look at the highest quality results and:

  • Check the articles for keywords - there might be synonyms for the keywords that you used that will help you find more articles. Keywords are usually found before or after the article's abstract or you may want to skim the article to find other terms that are used to describe the same idea.
  • Use the Boolean Operator "NOT" - if you find too many results that are off topic, you can use the "NOT" operator to weed out sources which contain your search terms but also include a specific word which indicates they are on a different subject.
  • Look through the article's references - you should be able to find citations to older, helpful articles there
  • Search for more articles by the same author(s) - the author(s) probably have published more articles in the field.
  • Sign up for search alerts or table of contents alerts - this is especially helpful if you plan ahead and have a couple of weeks to a couple of months before your project is due. Many databases have these alerts and you may be able to incorporate the latest research into your project. 
University of Michigan - Dearborn Logo
  • 4901 Evergreen Road
    Dearborn, MI 48128, USA
  • Phone: 313-593-5000
  • Contact us