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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.  

Using Wikipedia for Academic Research - this is a very helpful 3 minute tutorial on using Wikipedia to locate background information.
Find Articles
Start here: www.lib.utexas.edu > Research Tools > Find Articles Using Databases



  • IEEE Xplore: full-text access to IEEE & IET journals, conference proceedings, & current IEEE standards.
  • INSPEC: more than 7 million citations with abstracts to worldwide literature of physics, electronics & electrical engineering, computing & control, and information technology. 
  • 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.
  • SPIE: SPIE journals and proceedings are core information resources for the subject areas of optics, photonics and imaging.
  • ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Digital Library - Includes the full text of all ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) publications, including journals, magazines, newsletters, transactions and proceedings. 
No full-text? Click on the  button to see if the article is available in full-text or in print in the library.

Choose keywords which represent the main concepts of your topic. Then for each concept, choose a number of keywords, including synonyms and related terms.  Re-do the search with related terms to expand your results.

A good place to look for alternative terms is under the Subject Terms:


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 displayed, that means the book is checked out to another person.  You can request the book back by clicking on the "Pick it Up" button.


Subject Specialist
Picture: Robyn Rosenberg

Robyn Rosenberg
Engineering Library - Science Instruction Librarian
Tel: (512) 495-4646

Citations & Avoiding Plagiarism
Additional Resources
Talk to a Librarian!
If you need help please contact an Engineering Librarian!