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MECH 497: Research Skills

Keep Track of Your Research

Keep Track

Documenting your research from beginning to end is an important part of the process. The steps you took to conduct your research need to be able to be replicated. 

For example, you may be asked to present the keywords or search strategies you used to find your resources to:

  • a professor
  • as part of the journal publication process
  • or even to a grant funding agency.

Other times, you may be looking for a specific way of organizing your citations in one place when you are doing research in many databases. 

Regardless of the reason, keeping track of your research and the steps you took to complete it is always important. 

Search Logs

When keeping track of your searches, you want to ensure you are writing down the following pieces of information:

  1. Database Searched
  2. Search term(s) used (if applicable - how they were combined - AND/OR/NOT)
  3. Limiters used - i.e. dates, language, peer-reviewed
  4. Number of results found
  5. Date of your search
  6. Comments on the results (if applicable)

An example search history may look like the following:

Database Searched Search Terms + Limits Number of Results Comments on Results Date of Search Next Search Date
Compendex/Engineering Village ("energy efficiency" OR "energy conservation") AND "cloud computing" 3,633 A lot of results, add date limiters? Add database terms? February 10, 2021 May 3, 2021

Often, databases have options to save search histories when you make an account. Take advantage of these to avoid a lot of manual tracking.

Database Alerts

Staying current on the latest scholarly work in any discipline can be time-consuming. Fortunately, most databases offer an alert feature that informs you about new articles (or other publication types) on a specific topic. These services generally require you to create an account, conduct/save a search and then select either email or RSS as the delivery method.

  • Compendex on Engineering Village | Create an account/Login. Choose email alert from Alerts and Saved Searches

Citation Management

To track the resources you are finding in your searches and are relevant to your research, consider using a citation management tool. A citation management tool will help:

  • organize your research all in one place
  • avoid plagiarism by tracking your research path
  • create in-text citations with the click of a button(s)
  • easily format or re-format bibliographies

UBC Library supports the use of Mendeley, and Zotero through the Research Commons. Workshops and consultations are available should you have questions about using these tools. Choose the right citation management tool for your research

There are other tools available or that you may already be using.