NEF1103 Engineering and the Community: Databases & journals

Quest for quality information sources

Students in their first year of tertiary education are inclined to exclusively use the Web in their search for information sources for their assignments. The types of information sources you use will depend on the assignment requirements and the assignment question you are attempting to answer. However, the Web sources might not hold accurate and reliable information. For this reason, it is suggested to use the academic or scholarly material the VU Library Search and electronic databases contain. Through VU Library and Databases Search, you can locate journal and newspaper articles, books chapters, research reports, conference papers and many other sources of information related to the subject area you are researching.


An author writes an article on a particular topic and sends it to a publisher. Articles on similar topics are  published together in journals, which can also be known as periodicals. Next, the journal publisher assesses the article. It may be reviewed by other writers in the field. This would then be a peer reviewed article.The article is then published, either in:

PRINT - The library buys a subscription to the print copy of the journal and it is available on the library shelves.


ONLINE - An online database is a collection of journals a database provider packages together. The library subscribes to the online databases. These can be searched using keywords, author names and subjects for relevant information.

Finding journal articles in databases

Library Search is a good starting point for conducting research on any topic, including engineering, especially when you are not sure which database you should use. 
For more in-dept research, you might like to use multidisciplinary and engineering specific databases, such as the ones mentioned below.

Academic Search Premier

Multidisciplinary, full-text database for a broad range of areas including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, medical sciences, and many more. 


ScienceDirect is an electronic collection of scientific, technical and medical peer-reviewed journals with full-text access for over 2,000 journal titles. Abstracts and excerpts are available for more than 7,2000 journals and e-books.

Taylor & Francis Online 

Taylor & Francis Group publishes quality peer-reviewed journals under the Routledge and Taylor & Francis imprints.


IEEE Xplore is a full-text database providing access to quality technical literature in the disciplines of Electrical and Electronics engineering including IEEE transactions, journals, magazines, standards, and conference proceedings.

Environmental Studies in Video

Environmental Studies in Video database, via Alexander Street Press interface, contains 500 hours of film covering all realms of environmental studies, particularly ethics, policy, economics, law, sociology, planning, and environmental science. The collection addresses specific topics including alternative energy, pollution control, eco-design, sustainability, farming and agriculture, the food industry, LEED certification, waste issues, and climate change.


What's a library database?

A short animation that explains what library databases are from a student’s perspective.

Boolean operators

Boolean Operators are the words AND, OR, and NOT used in library databases that can make searches more precise, and save you time by removing the need to go through all the search results in order to find most relevant articles.

AND narrows the search resulting in more focused results, for instance, searching for  “alternative energy” AND Australia, all articles in your result will include both concepts (keywords)

OR broadens the search by instructing the database to search for any of the words, which is particularly useful for synonyms or related terms, i.e. “alternative energy” OR “renewable energy” OR “solar energy”

NOT narrows the search by instructing the database to remove all unnecessary search results, for example “alternative energy” NOT “nuclear power”