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Research Guides@Tufts

Engineering Sources: An Overview: Other Sources

Top general resources for engineering.

What is Grey Literature?

Gray (or Grey) Literature is a term used in scientific and research communities to cover certain types of research-oriented documents.  Although several definations of gray literature exist, it commonly refers to materials other than journals and monographs and which are not published by commercial publishers.  Gray literature includes technical reports, standards, patents, white papers, and protocols, all of which provided detailed and valuable information for engineering research.  With the exception of U.S. patents, much of this literature - particularly that published before the era of digitization - is difficult to locate as it has not been systematically collected or cataloged by libraries and repositories.

The U.S. Government is a major publisher of gray literature and in recent years has been taking advantage of the internet to make its publications more easily available.  Professional associations, standards organizations, and working groups focusing on particular subjects also contribute to the gray literature.

Sources on gray literature:

Patents & IP

Manufacturer/Product Literature & Cost Information

Research Protocols

Technical Reports

The Tufts Libraries do not acquire technical reports on a systematic basis.  Reports that are not freely available usually must be ordered from the publishers' own website.

Technical Standards

Technical standards describe established requirements or norms for manufacturing, performance, and best practices.  They are necessary for compliance with many regulatory bodies and also are great time-savers for specifications. They embed much research and testing. Standards are published not only by standards agencies such as ASTM, ANSI, and ISO but also by professional associations and government agencies.

The Tufts libraries do not collect technical standards systematically, with the exception of those from ASTM (see below).  Ones which is are not freely available must be ordered through ILLIAD (Interlibrary Loan) provided they are listed in BLC WorldCat and are available for loan. Otherwise, please contact the Engineering Librarians for assistance.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses and Dissertations are excellent sources for new research and ideas.  They also offer extensive bibliographies and can be a useful way to track the research of established researchers who serve as thesis advisers and their institutions (this information is usually provided in bibliographic records for theses).  If full text is unavailable in any of the databases listed below, it usually can be ordered through Interlibrary Loan.

Maps and GIS

Maps and geospatial information systems (GIS) are essential tools for both understanding physical situations and for presenting analysis and solutions.  For more resources, see the Geography and GIS Research Guide. Some basic resources are listed below.

The Theresa Winsor Pratt Map Room in Tisch Library (Level 2) contains the USGS Topographic Map Collection. The map room also houses The Tufts University GIS Center, which provides resources for the generation of digital maps.

Images & Other Media

Images, videos, and other forms of multimedia constitute powerful tools for analysis and illustration. Various organizations provide images that are free to use.  Government agencies are the major providers of this content.  Other sites, such as Google Images and Wikipedia, provide images as well but use of their images may require a fee or permission.

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David Fristrom