Civil and Environmental Engineering

Where to find articles in Civil Engineering

The two best places to start your search are general STEM databases - Scopus and Web of Science. (Scopus is easier to use for most people). They will find journals and conference papers from many publishers, including ACI and ASCE, so it's generally best to start there.

If you only want peer-reviewed journal articles, you'll need to filter your results to 'articles' after you search (on the left hand side of the screen).

How to search

When you use a research database, you will get much better results if you prepare a structured search rather than just entering a few words. These should be technical/scientific terms only - don't include adjectives like 'best' or very common words like 'methods' or 'improvement'. See this help guide for more guidance.

Pro tip: If you want an overview of recent research on a topic, instead of an original research report, you can look for 'review articles' on your topic. In Scopus and Web of Science, the easiest way to find these is to filter by 'document type' on the left-hand side of the page after you do a search

Having trouble finding good articles? Email me, your engineering librarian, for help! You can also see my toolbox of advanced search strategies.

Specialized databases

Getting the full text of a document you've found

Screenshot of the Connect from Off-campus web pageIf you have already found an article online, but can't read the full article without paying, there are a few possible quick solutions. Start with option 1, and if that doesn't work, move on to the next one.

1. Try using the proxy link-creator on the library website. Just copy the URL of the article or e-book, and go to this page (which you can also get to from the library homepage under 'Connect from off-campus'). Paste in the URL into the first box on the page, click 'Make an off-campus link' and then click 'View' below. You will then be asked for your uOttawa username and password.

2. If you still can't read it, search the title of the article in the Omni search box on the library home page.

3. Next, search for the article title on Google Scholar or Unpaywall These tools will sometimes link to a copy of the article elsewhere on the internet.

4. If it's an older paper (from the 1990s or earlier), try searching for the name of the journal/conference in Omni (not the article title). We may have the publication in print, but without a list of the individual articles.

5. If none of these work, you can submit a request for us to electronically borrow the article for you, using another library - or you can email me for help. 

What to know about research articles

In engineering and science, the main way that researchers communicate their work is through journal articles. What distinguishes a journal article from other information you might find?

  • They usually describe research (experiments, fieldwork, simulations) that the authors did themselves.
  • They are (in a proper journal) peer-reviewed - this means that other skilled researchers have reviewed the article before it was made available. This process takes 3-12 months typically.
  • They are very detailed and advanced because they are usually intended for other researchers in a small field. As a result, they may be hard to fully understand even if you are a student in the same discipline.
  • They cite many other articles and documents.

Here is an example of a journal article by a uOttawa graduate student in engineering.

Researchers also use conference papers to share their research more quickly. These are not really peer-reviewed, though there is some screening.