Searching databases for engineering


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Searching databases for engineering

DATA BASE cut into two dictionaries

Photo by Michael Mandiberg CC-BY-SA


Databases and Indexes search very broadly for journal articles, and sometimes conference papers and books as well.

We have access to full text of many, but not all of the articles indexed. They have linking features helping you get to the full text of the articles we have access to.

There are two key databases websites to search - Web of Science and Engineering Village.



By the end of this tutorial students should know:

Activity 1: Web of Science - overview

This database 'platform' provides access to an important general database called the Web of Science Core Collection (despite the name this also covers Arts and Social Sciences).

In addition a number of other databases are available, they can be easily all searched together, or individually to better access more advanced features.


Go to LibGuides@Southampton and find a link to Web of Science in the A-Z Resources list (in the Resources section) and answer the questions below. Then check the feedback.


Look at what passwords are needed to access the database.

On-campus with and off-campus by .

Click on thebutton to access the database, you will enter the All Databases search screen. At the top right of the screen you can change the language of the display to other languages.

Look at what databases you have access to and what subjects they cover (click on the orange arrow then learn more).

Web of Science Core Collection (general), (life sciences), Inspec ( ) and (Medicine)

Looking at the 'All Databases' and 'Learn More' link accessed by clicking the orange arrow

You can search engineering articles from to the current date.

Additional Resources

You can also find links to databases through your Subject Guide - which is a good way to find our which ones are recommended for you.

A presentation is available on accessing resources from off-campus.

Activity 2: Web of Science - keyword searching

This databases on this platform can be easily searched together for keywords, authors etc. If you are using some of the more advanced features you may find it more effective to search the key ones individually.

For this example we are looking for information on fuel cells in hybrid cars  for an assignment.


Type 'fuel cell hybrid car' into the search box in the All Databases search, which should be set to search in Topic by default.

We have chosen the most important (key) words, missing out unimportant words like 'in'.

Click the orange Search button, then answer the questions below, then read the feedback.

How many results do you get?

Tick a few articles of interest, and click the Add to Marked List button, just above the first search result.

These items have now been added to the Marked List - the number next to the icon and at the top of the screen has been updated.

Click on the Marked List link at the top of the screen, and see what options are available.

Now we want to read the full text of one of the articles. Click back on your browser if needed to exit the Marked List.

Find the article 'Preliminary study of high energy density Zn/Ni flow batteries.' and click on the Full Text Finder link. Do we have access and if so from what supplier?

The Full Text Finder links are very useful, but sometimes information about a journal is unclear or missing. Searching WebCat, the library catalogue can be useful as an additional check, and the Web of Knowledge makes this easier.

For the item "Car air-conditioning considerations on hydrogen consumption ..." click on the title,  then choose Holdings from the Full Text Options menu (top left). What does this tell you?

Additional Resources

A number of other Web of Science tutorials are available.

If you had difficulty getting the right answers you could look at the step-by-step guide and then try again.

Activity 3: Engineering Village - overview

This database 'platform' gives us access to two key databases at this university. Compendex is the key engineering database, and Geobase covers geography, geology and the environment.

As with Web of Science you can easily search both together, and some more advanced features work better when searching them individually.


Go to LibGuides@Southampton and find a link to Engineering Village in the A-Z Resources list (in the Resources section) and answer the questions below. Then check the feedback.


Can you access the database off-campus?

tick icon cross icon
Yes - with your institutional login
Yes - with VPN

You should be in the Quick Search section of Engineering Village with both Compendex and Geobase ticked. (If you followed one of our links for a specific database e.g. Compendex only that one may be ticked.)

How far back can we search on Engineering articles here?

Activity 4: Engineering Village - author searching

Compendex and Geobase can be easily searched by keyword or author in a similar manner to the Web of Science. For this example we will look for the papers published by Professor John McBride.


Type 'McBride, J*' into the first search box and select to search in the Author field.

The * can replace any number of characters, so we will find any variation of the authors name (McBride, J.W.; McBride, John W. etc.).

Answer the questions below, then read the feedback.

We have searched broadly and have probably found some work by authors with similar names.

In Compendex Professor John McBride's papers appear under and .

Once you have a set of results either from an author or keyword search, you will want to record the useful ones. Unlike with Web of Science there is no need to click an icon to get it to remember what has been selected.

Tick a few items of interest and click Selected Records at the top of the screen.

There are options to , and your selected records.

You will also want to access the full text of some of the articles.

Now you can also see links to search Full Text Finder and the Library Catalogue (these work in a similar way to those on the Web of Science).

We access to this journal article in format(s).

Additional Resources

A number of other Engineering Village tutorials are available.

If you had difficulty getting the right answers you could look at the step-by-step guide and then try again.

© Michael Whitton, University of Southampton Library, Science and Engineering Team, September 2014

Created using the LOC Tool, University of Southampton