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Engineering: Material for tutorials

Library sessions for Postgraduates

FEPS Postgraduates: Worksheet

LibGuides Demonstration:

Using Library Search (via Sussed or LibGuides) to search for the following options using the drop down box

  • Journals (print)

    • we have ‘print’ and ‘electronic’ holdings of ‘Science’. Use Library Search to find out which years we have in print)

  • Theses

    • look for a PhD thesis in your subject area

  • My account - Send a Request

    • Theses & Books

    • Journals & articles

    • From our collections

  • Other Catalogues

Services and Campuses

  • Inter-Library Loans :

    • check how many you are allowed each year – [Tip: look for Research PG]

    • most journal articles will be delivered to your desktop or device. Make sure you have read the section on this before ordering your first article to find out about registering with the British Library On Demand [Services & Campuses]

Subject guides

  • Tutorials and Library Sessions

    • Guides and tutorials

    • Today’s presentation/worksheet

  • Home - Databases

  • Websites

  • Skills for Success


Research Support

  • PGR Development Hub sessions; 1:1 support sessions


Searching databases

Go to your Subject Guide via LibGuides@Southampton;  Find the Compendex and/or Inspec (Engineering Village) databases link (or go to Resources and select Compendex or Inspec from the A-Z list of E-Resources)

Note: From the Databases menu, make sure only Compendex and Inspec are selected and NOT Geobase

(For help look at the Engineering Village Tutorials Page)


  • Search 1:  Development of optical telecommunications with microstructured fibres - How many results do you get?                                                                               
  • Search 2: optical fibres                                                                           How many results do you get?
  • Search 3: (Add a search field) telecommunications

  • You have combined the above 2 terms using AND                                 How many results do you get?

    Note: Click on the 3 parallel lines in top right corner of screen for search, results and other features

  • Search 4: microstructured                                                                      How many results do you get?

  • Search 5: microstructur*                                                                         How many results do you get?

  • To View all results click on 3 parallel lines in top right hand corner of screen

  • Search 6: Combine 3 AND 5

    • This is your search strategy ‘optical fibres AND telecommunications AND microstructur*’

                                                                                                                How many results do you get now?                                      

Note: you can input the whole query into the search box or ‘Add another field’ for each term. The default is the Boolean AND operator)

Search results

Using the results from the search you have just done:

  • In the Refine options, use the controlled search option.                       How many results do you get?

  • mark a few articles of interest

  • can you access the full text of any of your marked articles?

  • now look at the download and/or export options

  • View all results to edit or save the search

(Note: If you have searched a number of different databases you will need to go to the individual databases to see the search histories)

Searching by author

  • Search for articles by David Smith or your supervisor using the format given on the search screen (Smith D*) and limit these results to those with Southampton in the address

    (Hint: ‘Add Another Field’ and select ‘Address’ from the drop down menu)            How many results do you get?                              

(Note: Smith is a common name and there are several researchers with the name D Smith at Southampton. You could further limit your search by selecting   ‘Authors’   from the Refine menu on the left hand side of the results screen and selecting Smith, DC who is the author we are interested in but you may then miss some of his papers if the journal has only cited him as Smith, D. )


Exploring cited references

Back in the Subject Guide, search for the following paper (or a key paper of your own) in the Inspec Database.

Hanzo, L.  Generic z-domain discrete-time transfer function estimation for ultra-wideband systems

Select the relevant article by clicking on the title

  • What year was this article published?

  • In which journal was the article published?

  • How many times has this paper been cited by others?

  • How many related references are there?

  • Look to see how relevant they are

  • View the ResearcherID

Examples of a citation network for a ‘selected’ article and of a Reseacher ID are shown below

Hide ResearcherID and ORCID



ORCID Number

Chen, Sheng 



Hanzo, Lajos 


Note: you can also set up a ‘Citation Alert’ for this paper so that you will be notified every time a new paper is published which cites it.


Controlled Index (Thesaurus) Search

To build a more precise search and get more accurate results, watch this video to help Improve your search strategy when searching either Inspec or Compendex.

Enter the term electric automobiles, then search and select the relevant term (electric vehicles). Select a related or different term e.g. fuel cells and combine using AND or OR and search.

Compare this search to a topic search.  How many results did you get? How relevant are they?

Induction session for FEE Masters students (MSc AMES: BioMed: Transport) - PGT

New to the University of Southampton?

Spend a few moments getting familiar with key library tools and information for all new students available from our LibGuide.

Online training for PGT students

Spend some time watching the 2 learning activities from Online training:Finding good library stuff online!

  • Using Library Search to find books, journal articles and more
  • Search Strategies

Please click on 'Was this training useful?' to leave some feedback

Once you have mastered the basics, the Advanced online training is worth working through.  You can choose to look at any or all of the tutorials, but remember they can be revisited at any time during the year. Some tutorials have audio so don’t forget your headphones!

What is a subject database, and how can it help you with your research?

Go to the Subject guides and subject databases tutorial

  • After watching this tutorial (no headphones needed) find the
  • most relevant subject guide to you
  • the databases & websites YOU think are relevant to your assignment

Subject databases now try one of these...

  • If you are  an AMES & Transport student try the sample search below - use this link to access the Engineering subject library guides and choose a relevant database
    • Type in "mechatronic design and manufacturing of the intelligent robotic fish for bio-inspired swimming modes"
  • If you are BioMedical Engineering - use these links to access the Engineering library subject guide and the Medicine library subject guide and choose a relevant database for your assignment
  • Tip: if you are using a computer with two screens - drag the sample search LibGuide to one screen so that you can see the instructions and have the database search screen open on the other screen

Citing and Referencing

Check out the Academic Skills pages for information on Academic Integrity, referencing and also referencing software such as EndNote Online which allows you to collect and organise citations and references from your literature seach and then inset them into you document, formatted in the style that you choose.

Getting stuff that we do not have in UoS libraries 

  • You can request things that we do not have using the inter-library loans service. You have 10 free requests per year which are made through Library Search.
  • SCONUL Access enables students to visit and also borrow items from other University libraries in the UK – Please note that this service has been suspended due to COVID-19.

Academic Skills

Training and workshops plus the Academic Skills web pages will give help and direction in many areas such as Academic Writing, Critical Thinking. Referencing and Plagiarism plus much more - see and links to the workshops at

Your feedback

Please complete our short survey to give us your feedback on the whole of the session. The code to include on the online form is: AMES18 or BioMed19


Finding information for your individual project (IP) Worksheet


1.  Complete the feedback

Note: You should have looked at the following activities in Online training: Finding good stuff online: Search Strategies BEFORE this session. Click on ’Was this training useful to your studies?’


2.     Go to ID 124-066-167 (Engineering Workshops)

Complete a poll on the above online training activity


3. When you have decided which databases to use Do a Topic Search

From what you have learned from the previous presentations, use your project topic to create a search strategy by:

I. Go to the most appropriate subject guide

II. Select one database from the short list on the home page or from the list on the ‘Databases and key journals’ page (remember to select the appropriate databases if using Engineering Village)

III. Using the keywords and/or concepts you have already prepared and start to search each one individually.

IV. Look at the Search history or Results list and then revise or refine  your search if necessary

  • Think about alternative terms, phrases, abbreviations or alternative spelling
  • Truncate words if appropriate
  • Use Boolean operators to broaden or narrow the search

V. Check the search history again and send yourself a copy via email

VI. Repeat the same search in a 2nd database (from your subject guide) so you can compare the results

The following example demonstrates how to create your OWN Search strategy/statement :

Topic: Fuel cells for use in electric cars
Key concepts: fuel cells / electric / cars
Alternative terms: fuel cells: batteries; electric: hybrid; car: automobile; Lead-Acid [type of battery]
Possible truncation: batter* (searches for battery / batteries)

Search statement: (fuel cell or batter*) and (hybrid or electric) and (car* or automobile*)


When you have a set of results do the following:

VII. Open the records by clicking on the title to see the full details

  • Read the abstract
  • Look at the controlled and uncontrolled terms for other keywords; you can search these if they look useful
  • Use the refining options on the left hand side
  • Check the controlled and uncontrolled terms for alternative keywords
  • Check out the related documents


4. Using other features

VIII.  Use the thesaurus (if available) to ensure the results are more precise and therefore more relevant to the topic

  IX.  Once you are happy with your search strategy/statement, you can Save Search to rerun in the future

    X. When you have a set of results do the following:

  • Mark records that interest you by adding to the  selected/marked records
  • Use the export function to send these records to yourself for future reference OR to the referencing software of your choice to start creating your bibliography
  • Try Full Text Finder or other full text links to access the actual document


5.  Need help with your projects/dissertation?

Go to either of the following; fill in the details on the home page and submit. Spend 5 mins checking these out.

  1. Assignment Planner -
  2. Dissertation Planner –

Step-by-step guides to help you plan, organise and find the resources you need to complete your projects/assignments. You can save your work and return to the planners at any time.


What other useful resources are there? in your own time, check out the following ...

1. Getting the best out of the databases


2. Getting stuff that we do not have in UoS libraries 

  • You can request things that we do not have using the inter-library loans service. You have 10 free requests per year which are made through Library Search.
  • SCONUL Access enables students to visit and also borrow items from other University libraries in the UK – See SCONUL Access website for more details


3.Academic Skills Support

For help and guidance on becoming an effective learner allowing you to develop transferable skills to use in your studies and in the workplace go to the Academic Skills LibGuides


4. Academic integrity

Citing and referencing your work correctly is essential. By acknowledging the work of others you are acting with academic integrity and taking steps to avoid plagiarizing someone else's work.  Using bibliographic management or reference software can help you keep track of what you have found, what you have read as well as automatically formatting the references correctly when you use it with Word. Go to the Citing and Referencing section of the Academic Skills web pages or use the Referencing activity in Online training: Finding good stuff online.