Skip to Main Content

Civil Engineering

Open Resources

What are open resources? These are items that are freely available for anyone to access whether they are affiliated with UBC or not. UBC Library subscribes to and purchases content that provides access to ebooks, journals, streaming media, and more. Some of the content included in those purchases is open access meaning it is freely available for anyone to read or view. You might notice an open lock icon. This is the symbol for open access and it may come up in your library search results indicating the freely available item. 

open access unlocked icon Open Access 

This opened lock icon will be particularly useful after graduation when access to UBC Library's materials will be more limited.

Note that your alumni status grants you access to many of UBC Library's selected materials, but not everything. Visit the Alumni Guide for up-to-date information on what is available to you post-graduation: 

Finding Open Access Materials at UBC Library

You can also search through UBC Library's homepage. The Library's general search tool Summon currently indexes more than 200 million open access items, including articles, books, thesis, technical reports, images, and more. These items are made accessible in a variety of ways, including as full text resources (e.g. pdf, image, etc.) or through the descriptive metadata allowing you to find the full resource in open access repositories. 

On the Library homepage search using Summon (General), and limit your results to openly accessible content using the “Refine Your Search” filter for “Open Access”.  

Finding Information

The free resources listed here are additional ways beyond the Library's resources to find information quickly. These resources will help you find engineering information, scholarly works, patents and more. 

Tips are provided for each resource to help you locate the open access materials searches the worldwide patent literature, but also has a 'Scholarly Works' search that is not unlike Google Scholar. It is a better search than Google Scholar because it allows you to do more complex searching, it has more refined filters such as subject headings, and it links the scholarly works to the patent literature!

Look for the open access filter  to apply to your search to find freely available content quickly. 

It contains journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, dissertations, preprints, reports, and more. Like Google Scholar, don't be fooled by the name, not everything you find will be scholarly. As always check your sources! 

With the search results in you can visually analyze the results for both patents and scholarly works, conduct forward and backwards citation research and save your searches within the database once you create a private profile. Once you have created a profile you can organize your search results into folders and manage it all within

engrxiv (Engineering Archive)

The eprint server for engineering, engrxiv includes all types of manuscript, including but not limited to systematic reviews, hypotheses, ‘negative’ results, and data and methods papers. They publish two major types of article: (1) Preprints of articles in parallel to traditional journal submissions. (2) Previously published articles that an author or authors wish to make Open Access. Please note that preprints are not formally peer reviewed. When re-using them, and especially when citing, this status should be clearly marked. 

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals)

The DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) database contains over 16,500 peer-reviewed open access journals covering all areas of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, arts and humanities. The link above directs to journal title results with the subject of Technology. You can further refine to specific fields of engineering using the Subject filter on the left panel. All content is open access. 


IntechOpen’s Academic Editors and Authors are members of a growing scientific community focused on quality, peer-reviewed research and the dissemination of knowledge. In 2021, IntechOpen joined the United Nations SDG Publishers Compact as part of their ongoing commitment to increase awareness, publish and promote scientific research in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The link above directs to the engineering content, but a full search is available for all books and journals. Everything is open access and peer reviewed. 

Institutional Repositories

Many institutions (including UBC) collect peer-reviewed author manuscripts and pre-prints from their faculty and put them into their digital repositories. Theses and dissertations are also often housed in institutional repositories. This provides easy, open access to high quality scientific publications. You can find repositories and search their contents using the OpenDOAR directory. This link is set to the Advanced Search to easily filter by document type.

Search UBC's institutional repository Open Collections

Open Tools

Tools to find open access papers


This is a browser extension indicating if a freely available version of the article is available. When you are on a website showing an article, a green icon will appear to indicate a freely available version. if the icon remains grey then no open access copy is available. When you see green click on the icon and you will be directed to an open access copy. Works with Chrome and Firefox. 

Open Access button

Similar to Unpaywall, once installed on your browser the Open Access button searches for a free version of the article when you prompt it. If the article is not available, it provides a way to contact the author directly to ask for access. 


Tools to help find related works and visually analyze how papers are connected.

Connected Papers

Connected Papers is a unique, visual tool to help researchers and applied scientists find and explore papers relevant to their field of work. Papers are connected based on their similarity. They do not have to be cited in order to be included. The database is connected to the Semantic Scholar Paper Corpus (licensed under ODC-BY). You need an account to use this tool, but it has a free version available. 


Inciteful also connects papers through two options: Paper Discovery and Literature Connector. Paper Discovery finds similar papers, important papers and prolific authors based on the citation or citations you provide. The Literature Connector works well for interdisciplinary topics. Add two papers and the tool will find how they are connected in the literature. You do not need an account to use Inciteful. 

Research Rabbit 

Research Rabbit is similar to Connected Papers. It enables you to discover and visualize relevant literature and scholars, create alerts, and share collections. You need to create an account to use this tool, but it has a free version available. 

Open Educational Resources (OER) for Engineering

UBC Library has a specific guide dedicated to finding, creating and sharing OERs.

This page includes finding OERs for engineering only. This is more than open access. OERs also use licenses that allow you to reuse content and adapt it for your own context. Read the license attached to the book or object you find to make sure. 


Open Textbooks for Engineering from the Engineering Library Division (ELD) of the ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education). A curated list of open texts that can be browsed by subfield. 

BC Campus OpenEd Open Textbooks. Filter by Engineering to find the relevant texts. 

Open Textbook Library. Hosted by the Center for Open Education at the University of Minnesota. Browse by subject or use the search field to find by topic.