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MSE 380 - Materials Properties Lab

Searching for technical literature related to Materials Science and Engineering


Welcome to the MSE 380 Materials Properties Lab guide.  This guide covers resources available to you for researching the technical literature related to your course projects.  If you can't find what you need here, try the Materials Science and Engineering Subject Guide.

In this Guide you will find

  • Tips for using database(s) in your subject area
  • Tricks for managing and citing your research
  • Advice on writing annotated bibliographies & literature reviews
  • Guidance on scientific presentations & poster sessions, and
  • Other tips to make your research and scholarly writing a bit easier


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Research Tips from MSE 380 Students

Former MSE 380 Students suggest the following when doing you research:

  • Use Library databases!
    • Library databases have tools to help you narrow your search step by step, so searching is more efficient; With Google Scholar you have to add more and more search terms
    • Library databases have more flexible search options - you can tweak your search!
    • You get more accurate results searching Library databases
    • All of my senior project literature was found through the Library databases
  • Use the database facets/limiters in the left menu bar to tailor the results to exactly what you need
  • Use the Library resource guide! The resources there have been chosen for your MSE380 research class work. You'll get better, more relevant articles with less searching
  • When searching Library Databases, fewer words is better!  Pick out the most important concepts to search rather than searching full sentences

Pro Tips: Preparing to do Research

Get Organized

Before you start your research, spend some time preparing and getting organized:

Identify the parameters of the topic such as scope, depth, purpose:

  • What is the purpose of the research?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the perspective (e.g. experimental, applied, exploratory)?
  • What is the expected end product?
  • How much time and money can be allocated to this project?

Clearly Define your Topic: Make a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables of interest. Make sure to list synonyms and related terms. As you search and discover new terminology, added it to your list.

Take Good Notes as you Research. This will help you develop your literature review later, and will help you keep track of which sources relate to your research and how. You may want to make note of:

  • The main ideas of the source
  • Questions or comments about the argument’s or author’s credibility
  • Key points or quotes that you might include in your paper with page numbers to locate them
  • Whether or not the source will be useful in your research paper and how

It can be helpful to Keep a search log. Think of this like a research notebook, but one that tracks your search strategy and results. Report the date, database, search string and filters, relevance of results and any other notes that might be useful if you get ideas later or can't remember what you found where.

Track your sources. Using citation manger software like EndNote Web, Zotero and Mendeley can help, and your notes can go right into the software with the citation attached.

  • Books: author, title, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, call number and other location information, content notes
  • Print Journal Articles:  author, title of article, journal title, volume and issue number, inclusive page numbers of article, date of issue, location information
  • Electronic Full-Text Articles: same information as for periodicals plus URL or DOI if available, date you accessed the article, producer (publisher or aggregator), library where or through which the database was accessed
  • Web sites: URL, date, producer, title or name, and the date you accessed the web page

Are you Off Campus? Log into first

Many Library resources are paid for by the Library on your behalf, and come with strict licensing agreements. To use them, you will need to go through the Library's proxy server to authenticate you as a BSU affiliate. If you're using Google Scholar and have it set up to help you Find full text in the BSU Library's collection, you won't have access to the full text without authentication.

Log into before you start your research and single sign-on will take care of the authentication for you. By doing this you'll avoid the interruptions that come with authentication requests to put in your BSU user name and password to get to materials.

Set up Google Scholar, InterLibrary Loan and a Citation Manager

Before you start your research, take time to do the following if you haven't already done so:

  1. Set up Google Scholar to show Albertsons Library's collections. This makes it easier to find full text articles and reduces searching to find the books, documents, etc. available at BSU
  2. Set up your Interlibrary Loan account, so you can easily request articles and books that BSU's Library doesn't own 
  3. Set up a citation manager account for EndNote Online, Zotero, or Mendeley, so you can manage your citations and references

All of these options are free, and will reduce the interruptions you face you do your research. You'll find resources in the pages of this guide to help you accomplish these things.