GNEG: Introduction to Engineering

Resources for class projects and more.

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Jay McAllister

Mullins 423

Not For This Class

Many web sites are useful resources, but they do not qualify as appropriate resources for engineering projects. They can be a way to get started and they can lead to legitimate resources for academic papers. Generally these resources SHOULD NOT be the only resource used for engineering projects and assignments, as they are not academic resources. If you choose to use information obtained from these sites, make sure you provide appropriate attribution. Then find a good quality ACADEMIC resource to meet the course requirements.

Blogs and online-only newspapers are NEVER allowed. Be careful with online trade journals. The general "news" items on their home page are generally BLOGS. Blogs can be, and generally are, ephemeral -- here today, gone tomorrow -- and are NOT considered a PUBLISHED resource. Only PUBLISHED articles from trade journals are allowed. These will generally be in the current issue or archive section of the magazine site.

When it doubt, ask your professor or the librarian!

The Freshman Engineering Program does not generally recognize the following resources as ACADEMIC.

Videos on Evaluating Resources

The University Libraries has prepared a video to help you understand the questions to ask when evaluating resources.

Level of Resources

For Freshman Engineering Assignments at the University of Arkansas, items above the line are acceptable resources unless otherwise specified within the assignment.

Resources can be classified into different types. Shown below is a list of some of the types that you might come across in print or on the Web:

Technical Reports
Books from University and Other Known Publishers
Trade journals (Online or in Print)
National Newspapers

Local Newspapers
Online Only Newspapers
Vanity Press Books
Letters (Correspondence)
Bulletin Boards

These resources mentioned above are loosely organized by reliability. The publications at the top of the list are generally considered more reliable. However, reliability varies by field and by author. And no matter how reliable a specific source is, generally it is wise to have at least 3 resources for any important topic as that will allow a comparison of facts, methods, and/or opinions.

Questions to Ask

It is important to evaluate the sources that you use. The more credible your sources, the more credible your argument.
Before you use a source as part of your research, here are some questions to consider:

  • Is the information correct?
  • Is the site well designed?
  • Is it rife with poor grammar, punctuation or typos?
  • Is the information clearly written?
  • Is the information presented in an organized manner?
  • Do the links lead to useful information corroborating the site’s statements, or to they link to other questionable information?
  • Does the author substantiate his points with facts or complete references?


  • Is the source trustworthy?
  • Who is the author/creator/maintainer of the source?
  • What are his/her credentials? (Is that information available?)
  • Are his/her qualifications relevant to the subject matter?
  • Is the publication peer-reviewed or scholarly?
  • Is the material taken from other sources fully credited?


  • Is the information up to date?
  • Is it important that the information is up-to-date?
  • When was the site last updated?


  • Is the information unbiased?
  • Are the author’s motives discernible?
  • Does the information convey a bias?
  • Does the author appear to have an axe to grind, or seem blindly committed to his/her cause?
  • Does the site have any sponsors? Is it promoting a product?
  • Who is the site’s intended audience?

Bottom line

  • Would this site be a useful source for a research paper?
  • Does it present balanced information, or, if not, does it credibly represent a point of view?


Primary – In the sciences, primary sources are articles written by the person who did the research/experiment and may include synthesis of previous research by others. Usually primary sources contain sections on experimental methodology and data.

Secondary – In the sciences, secondary resources talk about the research rather than reporting the results.

Peer Review – A formal process of evaluating and revising articles before they are published. Also called “refereed”.

Review Article – The author pulls together the relevant research literature on a topic usually for a specified time period. The author summarized and evaluates the research while providing citations to the primary literature.

Research Article – The author’s purpose is to report on research done. Generally a complete research article will include experimental data, procedures or protocols used to generate the data, as well as a discussion of the data. Most will reference other literature.

Technical Report – A formal document prepared by the engineer to communicate the status of a project. Style and elements vary depending on sponsoring organization but will normally contain a detailed description of a design, test, and/or results and conclusions. Early reports may be referred to as progress reports.