Possible research methods
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Possible Research Methods. Observe Solicit expert opinion Collect and synthesize information from published and unpublished sources Conduct tests Make calculations Create preliminary designs. Research: Discovering and Developing Information. Published Resources

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Possible Research Methods

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Possible research methods

Possible Research Methods


Solicit expert opinion

Collect and synthesize information from published and unpublished sources

Conduct tests

Make calculations

Create preliminary designs

Research discovering and developing information

Research: Discovering and Developing Information

  • Published Resources

    • Printed articles, books, catalogs, etc.

    • Electronic databases

    • WWW

  • Unpublished Resources

    • Oral and written (but unpublished) records

      • interviews, correspondence (email)

    • Empirical Studies

      • surveys, observations, experiments, tests

Evaluating all sources of information

Evaluating all Sources of Information

  • Does the information answer important questions for your research?

  • Is the information current? Can you determine the date of publication?

  • Are presented facts and figures from reliable sources?

  • Can you detect any biases in the way that information is presented?

  • Can you determine the author’s credentials and qualifications?

  • Is the publisher/sponsor credible? (for WWW sources, check the domain).

Evaluating internet sources

Evaluating Internet Sources

7.Is the site updated regularly?

-- check dates

8. Is the site well designed?

9. Is the writing grammatical and clear?

10. Does the source make any biases absolutely

clear? Does it make its purpose clear?

-- check “About” page

Research ethics in class exercise

Research Ethics: In-Class Exercise

  • Assume you are writing a paper on global warming for an Environmental Engineering Conference. On a scale of 1 (most credible) to 5, rate the following sources in terms of credibility with youraudience.

    • http://www.greenpeace.org/

    • (Greenpeace’s URL)

    • http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/

    • (The EPA’s page on global warming)

Evaluating internet resources

Evaluating Internet Resources


  • Where does page originate? Is a single individual as reliable as university, major company, or government agency?

  • Beware of ~NAME in directory path of URL. Page may be in personal directory.

  • Check the domain. If source is a company, is the page advertising?

Evaluating internet resources1

Evaluating Internet Resources

  • A reliable site should make clear how it is organized and maintained. At least one page should include development info. When was site last updated?

  • Check out this resource:


Other problems with researching list those you encounter

Other Problems with Researching(list those you encounter)

  • On Web:

  • Using other sources:

Strategies for researching

Strategies for Researching

  • Be as specific as possible in your search.

    • Learn how to combine keywords.

  • Choose the best search engine.

    • Google loads faster than other engines.

    • See this article on search engines.

  • Consult a librarian.

  • Set a timetable for research.

  • People are also sources of info., but they have to be reliable and credible

Search strategies

Search Strategies

  • Subject search

    • uses keywords

  • Snowball search

    • moves back in time – begins with recent publication

  • Citation search

    • moves forward in time -- begins with key paper

Snowball a and citation b

Snowball (a) and Citation (b)

Douglas (2003)

Physical Rev. Letters, MIT

Nicol et al. (1998)


Gaiver (1996)

Phys. rev. Letters

Bardeen (1994)

Glasser (1995)

IEEE Trans

Auschnitt (1986)

Applied Phys Lett

Haus (1978)

Internat’l J of Elect


Lugovoi (1976)


Haus (1975)

IEEE Journal

Search tools

Search Tools

  • Science Citation Index

    • a CD-ROM in the McKinney Library

  • Applied Science and Technology Index

    • Covers trade and industrial publications as well as journals published by professional societies.

  • Engineering Index

    • also the Engineering Index Annual (abstracts)

  • Dissertation Abstracts

More search strategies

More Search Strategies

  • Star search

    • looks at “star” journals or institutions

  • Comprehensive database search

    • needs a search profile

    • Consult with librarian.

Collecting information interviewing

Collecting Information: Interviewing

  • Gather necessary information

  • Prepare effective questions

    • focused

    • few yes/no

    • one at a time

  • Don’t interrupt

  • Allow time for response

  • Convey interest

    • tone of voice & body language

  • Write thank-you letter

Documenting sources and avoiding plagiarism

Documenting Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Don’t plagiarize unintentionally -- copying more than 5 words in a row from another source without attribution is plagiarism in engineering writing.

  • Consider these writing strategies:

    • Quotation, paraphrase, summary

  • If in doubt about whether to cite source, cite it!

    • Improper citation is way better than no citation.

  • UT’s Scholastic Dishonesty policy

Developing your project

Developing your Project



Time constraints

Research discoveries

Refined criteria









Legal constraints


Client constraints



Collecting information surveys

Collecting Information: Surveys

  • Use random but representative sample

  • Ask short, mainly yes/no, simple questions

  • Ask very few open-ended questions

  • Avoid vague or overly general words

  • Be cautious about jargon and slang

  • Use easy-to-complete, attractive design

    • no more than one page

  • Collect answers yourself whenever possible

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