This guide covers search tools for introductory research in topics related to civil, environmental, and geo-engineering. It is aimed at undergraduate researchers.
Off-campus access to library resources
Current University students, staff and faculty should be able to get full text and online access to the University Libraries from anywhere. Here are three ways to access the library full text from off campus.
- Search the University of Minnesota library website. Log in with your UMN Internet ID and password to access resources.
- Log in using the U of M Virtual Private Network (VPN). You will need to download it VPN software to your computer from campus OIT (Office of Information Technology).
- Install the Libraries' Proxy Bookmarklet to your browser and click it to reload the page with your U of M login to get access to full text. Watch a proxy bookmarklet video (3 min) to learn more.
View examples and learn more on our How to get to full text from on and off campus Guide.
Creating a search query
For most databases and even Google you can combine search terms to write a search query that databases understand. A good search query will give you a good selection of highly relevant results. Below are a few examples of how to build a search string using climate change as a topic:
- Use quotation marks to search words as a phrase, e.g., "climate change"
- Use an asterisk with a word stem to search for variations on a term, e.g., sustain* for sustain, sustainability, sustaining
- Use the word AND to link together concepts, e.g., "climate change" AND sustain*
- Use the word OR to search for synonyms, e.g., "climate change" OR "global warming"
- Use parentheses to group terms, e.g., "climate change" AND (policy OR law
Remember that searching is an iterative process—as you search and learn more about a topic, you will be able to refine your strategy.
- KnovelOnline access to books, databases, and conference proceedings from a number of publishers that cover all areas of engineering and includes content relevant to related sciences (e.g., chemistry and earth sciences). It includes interactive graphs and tables.
Then try any of the following:
- Web of ScienceA comprehensive interdisciplinary collection of journal article citations. Subjects generally covered are within science and technology, arts and humanities, and social sciences. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- ScopusSearch for information from scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. Covers the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities.
Also check out:
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Civil Engineering DatabaseThe Civil Engineering Database indexes all ASCE journals, conference proceedings, books, standards, manuals, magazines, and newspapers. Full text is available for most journals from 1983 to present.
- Environmental Engineering AbstractsEnvironmental Engineering Abstracts covers the world literature pertaining to technological and engineering aspects of air and water quality, environmental safety, and energy production.
- Agricultural & Environmental Science DatabaseSearch journals and literature on agriculture, pollution, animals, environment, policy, natural resources, water issues and more. Searches tools like AGRICOLA, ESPM, and EIS databases.
- GeoRefSearch tool for scholarly research about the geosciences. Includes journal articles, books, conference proceedings, government publications, theses, reports, and maps.
- Transport DatabaseTransport database searches journal articles, technical reports and conference papers on highways, traffic, road safety, marine transportation, and economic and social aspects of transportation systems. It combines three databases: the Transportation Research Information Services (US), International Road Research Documentation (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and TRANSDOC (European Conference of Ministers of Transportation). Limited to 4 simultaneous users.
Last Updated: Jan 6, 2023 11:34 AM