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Research Skills For Engineering Students

The goal of this tutorial is to improve your engineering information research skills.

Module 4 Introduction and Transcript

Welcome to Research Skills for Engineering Students module 4, Summon. In this section, you’ll learn about the UBC Library search tool Summon, and how to apply filters to quickly narrow your results.

Module 4 Video and Links


You should be using scholarly and peer-reviewed sources for your report. The UBC Library’s search tool Summon is a great place to start. Much like Google provides a single entry to the internet, Summon provides a single point to find and access the majority of the UBC Library collections.

Some advantages of Summon are that it:
  • Searches almost everything the library has access to, including online and print books, articles, and more
  • Looks across all disciplines, so it can be very useful when you’re not really sure where to start looking or have an interdisciplinary topic
  • Is very helpful when looking for a specific book or article
Summon can be found on the UBC Library homepage under the default General tab.

Reviewing our questions from module 1, we can look at the risks of liquefaction in the event of an earthquake. Let’s try a search for (earthquake OR seismic) liquefaction.

By using search operators such as OR and brackets/parentheses ( ), you can find more relevant sources of information. There are other operators you can use in Summon. See module 3, the Summon help page, or ask a librarian for help if needed!

Once you have a results list, you'll notice there are many different types of material. Summon has the ability to apply filters or limits to your search results. The different filters will be found on the left-side of your search results screen. Explore these to determine some of the most helpful options for you!

One useful filter is Content Type, which will limit your results to a specific type of publication.
Books/eBooks are a great way to find overview, background, or historical information on a topic.
  • Print books will be indicated with a library location - for engineering books, you’ll likely find them at Woodward Library
    • To find out more about a print book, click either the book’s title or the link with the book’s location. You will be brought to the book’s UBC Library catalogue record. You’ll want to look at a few key pieces of information, including:
      • Location
      • Call Number
      • Status
    • If you’re not sure how to read the book’s catalogue record, ask a librarian!
  • To limit results to ebooks only, click the Full Text Online filter
    • To access an eBook, click either the book’s title or Full Text Online
    • The viewing and downloading capabilities for each eBook will differ, depending on the platform or provider accessible by UBC Library. Sometimes you can download an entire eBook as a PDF, sometimes you can download chapters, and sometimes you can only view online.
You can also use the Content Type filter to find peer-reviewed journal articles about your topic. Let’s do the same search again in Summon, but apply different filters.
Content Type, select Journal Article. But not all articles are peer reviewed. Under Refine your Search, select Peer-Review.
  • Be careful with this peer review limit. Ultimately, you will want to decide whether or not an article is appropriate for your needs using some of the strategies discussed in module 2.
  • To access the full text of an article, select either the article’s title or Full Text Online.
  • Depending on who publishes the journal article, the webpage you arrive at may look a little different. What you want to look for is how you can download or save the PDF. Sometimes the article is only available in HTML format.
Searching Summon is fast and easy but has some limitations:
  • It doesn’t include everything that UBC Library has access to, so by only using Summon you might miss some useful resources
  • It searches all disciplines, so the results might not be the most focused or relevant for your topic

You can find more information and help with Summon from the UBC Library.

That concludes module 4, Summon. Like Google, Summon is but another search tool you can use during your research. To do a comprehensive and precise search, you also need to use academic databases. In the next video, you’ll learn about what academic databases are, and how to use them.