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Aerospace Engineering Guide: Search & Evaluation Strategies

Resources for aerospace engineering

Research Strategies

Keywords & Subject Headings: When looking for resources in the Gordon Library catalog, a good initial strategy to guide your search is using subject headings as your keywords. Subject headings are preferred, standardized terms developed by subject area experts, whereas 'keywords' are generally based upon natural or subjective language. In this way, Subject Headings are a kind of controlled vocabulary, and they form the organizational backbone of searchable platforms, which facilitate automated, efficient searching. Many libraries (WPI included) use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)--which are generated by the Library of Congress--as their preferred terms. As it relates to searching, the key difference is that Keyword searches look at most (if not all) of the words in a catalog record, but subject searches only look for words in the subject heading fields (6XX). As a result, subject searches are more precise, so subject search results will be more specific. Consider some of the approaches recommended by librarians in the following video--

Developing keywords for research

Run Time: 2:44

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • What are Keywords? (0:22)
  • Sample--Generating Keywords (0:38)
  • Effectively Using Keywords (0:53)
  • Using a Thesaurus (1:34)
  • Refining Search Results (1:48)
  • Evaluating a Library Record (2:10)

Try using some of the listed subject terms links/ keywords to find resources supported by--and accessible through--the Gordon Library.

Check out some of the following tutorials related to the research process.

Library Searching in 60 Seconds

Run Time: 1:03

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • Gordon Library Homepage (0:15)
  • Search Overview (0:30)
  • Filters (0:45)

Locating relevant databases for research

Run Time: 2:27

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • Understanding Relevance in Relation to Research Needs (0:21)
  • Understanding Databases (0:46)
  • Locating Databases (1:04)
  • Search Databases A-Z (1:04)
  • Search Databases by Subject (1:33)
  • Search Databases by Type of Resource (2:09)

Finding full-text videos

Run Time: 2:55

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • Why Search for Full-Text Articles? (0:30)
  • Sample Full-Text Search via SCOPUS (0:52)
  • Sample Search w/ Strategies (1:18)
  • Search Tips (1:27- 2:06)
  • Filters (2:10)

Peer Review Overview 

Run Time: 2:52

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • What is Peer-Review? (0:10)
  • The Impact of Peer-Review Processes (0:50)
  • The Peer-Review Process (1:39)
  • Locating Peer-Reviewed Articles via the Gordon Library (2:25)


The following tutorials will help students identify valid, legitimate, and scholarly rigorous information for your research.


Run Time: 3:17

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • What is TRAAP? (0:05)
  • Timeliness (0:26)
  • Relevance (1:03)
  • Authority (1:46)
  • Accuracy (2:15)
  • Purpose (2:40)


Run Time: 1:52

Key Student Learning Competencies:

  • What is SIFT? (0:12)
  • Step 1: STOP (0:19)
  • Step 2: Investigate (0:41)
  • Step 3: Find (1:05)
  • Step 4: Trace (1:36)