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Background Information (Reference Sources)
Reference sources can help you find and develop a research topic by providing background articles, facts, statistics, dates and other general information on most topics.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library is database of encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources to help find background information and define your topic.
Using Wikipedia for Academic Research - this is a very helpful 3 minute tutorial on using Wikipedia to locate background information.
Finding Articles
Library home page > Research Tools > Find Articles using Databases
Multidisciplinary Database:

  • Academic Search Complete: A comprehensive and scholarly database containing magazine, newspaper, and journal articles from across disciplines. 
Subject Specific Databases:

  • ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Online Research Library: full-text access to publications of the ASCE from 1995 to present.
  • ASME - online access to all available volumes of the technical journals of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and to ASME conference papers starting with 2002.
  • Compendex -  Contains more than 11 million citations with abstracts from more than 5,600 journals, reports and conference proceedings covering fields of engineering and technology.

 No full-text?    Click the  button to see if it is available in another database or in print in the library.

Find Books
Start here: www.lib.utexas.edu > Research Tools > Library Catalog

  • To find a book on your topic, start with a keyword search.

  • When you find a good title, follow the subject headings for more books on the topic

  • When you find the book, browse other books in the same area for similar resources.
  • Take note of the location of the book, we have over 10 libraries.

  • The call number will help you locate the book on the shelf
  • Take note of the current status: If there is a date listed instead of "AVAILABLE" that means the book is checked out to another person.  But you can request the book back by clicking on the Pick it Up link.

What is ScoUT:  scoUT is UT Libraries’ easy and fast interface with a Google-like search box.

What can I do with it? Search across most library content at once to find what we have on your topic. Less precise search good for discovering a broad range of items on your topic.

How do I search?  Just type in your search terms. To narrow your search by format, in the left hand column put a check in the box next to the Content Types you want.

How do I get the item? Use the call number to get it from the library, or, if it is an eBook, click the link to read it online. 

Want more information?  See the scoUT Search Tips.

Sources of Information







Conference papers

Technical papers

Government reports



Talk to a Librarian!
Larayne Dallas
Engineering Librarian
Tel: (512) 495-4503

Robyn Rosenberg

Engineering Librarian
Tel: (512) 495-4646

If you need help please contact an Engineering Librarian!

Additional Resources

Don't have a topic - browse the ASCE Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks Index:
Citations & Avoiding Plagiarism