How to find Electrical Engineering scholarly literature online

Finding scholarly literature online

This Wiki page was made as a project requirement for our “Introduction to Communication and Information Technology” course’s term project. The project that we were allocated o was “How to find Electrical Engineering scholarly literature online”. The following article is aimed at trying to explain to a lay-man in easy-to-understand terms and language as to how to effectively search for particular or general scholarly literature on the internet, using some online academic scholarly sources (mentioned in the article to follow)

What is scholarly literature and what is the need of online scholarly literature?

We will begin by defining what exactly is meant by scholarly literature. Scholarly literature on a particular area means the work published on a specific area by researchers (who may include academicians, engineers, industrial engineers, etc.) in scholarly journals. These journal papers represent the state-of-art in their subject area. Researchers share their work (new theories, results, etcetera.) with the larger research community by publishing in top-quality journals. The primary intention of this literature is to further the progress in science and technology, which they usually do by reporting the latest research, and it can be used in the field of further research and also in education.
This literature in online form is specifically important because it is much more easily accessible in this form. Instead of actually going to a local library and buying a journal, one can just download it from the internet with the same, if not less or even free, cost. The literature on the internet can also be found more effectively by using online sources that primarily specialize in providing scholarly literature to whoever requires it. Furthermore, articles in electronic format are much easier to arrange and organize.

Objectives of the Project:

Our project is primarily aimed at helping different categories of people (defined later on, in next section) belonging or related to the field of Electrical Engineering in gaining authentic and genuine literature in their respective fields of Electrical Engineering from the internet. This literature would aid them in doing whatever they wish to do; may it be studying, teaching or researching. Our objectives which cater to this aim are listed below:

1. We will provide a list of online academic scholarly sources, that is, the sources which provide scholarly literature on the various branches of Electrical Engineering. These sources may, either, actually hold the scholarly journals in their personal databases or they may provide links to (and also search in) other authentic sources which hold the required literature. They may also provide their services for free or at a cost.

2. We will also write down surveys of the best online academic sources mentioned in the list of sources. These surveys will give general as well as specific information about that source, including its brief description and its features.

3. Furthermore, we will list down special techniques, utilizing the specific features of each source, of finding literature on those sources in a more effective manner. This would increase time management and increase productivity while searching for specific electrical engineering subjects.

4. Our last objective is to ourselves become familiar with the process of how researchers share their work, and to make those people who read our report familiar with this process as well.

Who will benefit from the project?

We believe that the following categories of people could benefit from our project if they go through it thoroughly and try to implement its suggestions in their practical life:
1) Students
2) Teachers
3) Researchers

How will the above mentioned categories of people benefit from our project?

The potential benefits that each category of people may gain from our project are listed below:
1. People new to the field of research can get an insight of how research is carried out particularly in the field of Electrical Engineering. They can utilize our project details can get insight in the process of writing articles and research papers and in sharing their writings on authentic academic, online sources. In this way they would be introduced to and would get themselves familiarized with the world of research. This would help them in becoming effective researchers of tomorrow.

2. Students can easily find useful material which is relevant to their study very easily on the internet. This would give them greater understanding and would aid them in their college or university studies.

3. Teachers of Electrical Engineering can use the online academic sources to inform their students of latest research carried out in that field. This would arouse interest and prove to be a catalyst for greater understanding for students of that particular Electrical Engineering subject. They could also share with the students valuable information found in journals that they may not have known with their own experience

4. The online journals (hosted on the online academic sources) could also help the researchers in researching. The literature contained in those sources could act as a reference for their research, and they could also find topics to research on from those journals.

5. By becoming familiar with the special features offered by different online sources, we can search for online literature more effectively. For example some sources allow the user to save the required journals or articles on his/her profile page (which is an easy access area), so a person can utilize this service to save articles and journals which he/she needs to refer to very frequently. This would be an effective time management. Other sources allow the user to find who are the top authors / researchers in a particular field, so that the user may only go through their articles in the journal.

Commonly used jargons which a person should know of when dealing with scholarly literature.

We feel that it is important for a person to know the meanings of some technical terms which are commonly used in the domain of scholarly literature. A few of these terms which we came across in our project research are explained below:
1. Cite:
To quote (a passage, book, author, etc.), especially as an authority

2. Abstract:
(a)A summary of a text, scientific article, document, speech, etcetera;
(b)A statement summarizing the important points of a text.

3. Subscription:
An agreement to receive or be given access to electronic texts or services, especially over the Internet.

[The above three definitions have been taken from ]

4. Peer-reviewing:
The process by which renowned scholars and active researchers from around the world review articles before they are published in journals

5. Open-source journals:
These are the journals on the internet which are freely available to everyone.

List of good online scholarly sources:

We shall begin by listing down the best online academic scholarly sources that we went through while we were researching for our project: (The list is not in priority order)
• IEEE Xplore Digital Library

• Google Scholar

• ACM Digital Library

• IET Digital Library

• Scopus

Common features:

Here we will describe some features which are common to almost all the online scholarly sources and are widely used for searching scholarly articles. We will describe them separately so that we do not have to explain them again and again in the survey of each source (provided in next section).

Basic search:

Type in a key word or phrase and the search engine will search for each word individually in its database and displays the results which contain content matching with the input. Put quotations (“ ”) around the phrase to search for the exact phrase.
This search option is usually displayed on the main / home page of the online source.

Advanced search:

Advanced search is the most widely used feature to search for specific content in online sources and databases. Some of the options usually available in advanced search are described below:

1)Author search:

Author search is one of the most effective ways to find a specific paper, if you know who wrote the paper you're looking for. You can simply add the name of the author along with what you are searching for, and the search engines will limit the search results to articles from that author only.

2)Publication restriction:

This feature is important if you are searching for articles in specific publications. Under this feature if you add the name of the journal, in which you are searching the article, to your search then the search result would be restricted to articles from that journal only.

3)Date restriction:

Under this feature you can specify the date year in which the article was published. You can also specify the year before or after which the article was published or the years in between which the article was published, and the search engine would restrict the search results to your specific date settings. For example you can specify that the article you are searching for was published between 2003 to 2005, and the search engine would only search for articles published in this time period.

4)Other features:

Other features that may be included in the advanced search are as follows.
• Search for the entered text only in the article titles.
• The search results should not contain a particular term that you specify. For example you are searching for an article about integrated circuits which has no information regarding processors, then you will enter “Microchips” in the search tab and specify that the article should not contain the word “Processor”. This would make the searching for that particular article easier since the search result would now contain much lesser entries.
• Search in reference to the name or date of the conference in which the required article was presented / discussed.
• Search for the ISBN or ISSN code of the article you require.

Citation records:

If an online source claims to have citation records (or something that sounds similar to this) it means that the citations in all of the articles it hosts are provided (usually for subscribed members). And, if the cited articles are also available in that particular source than the user can access them too, otherwise it depends on the policy of the particular source on which the cited articles are hosted.

[Google Scholar advanced search:]

[ACM Digital Library advance search:]

[Help for Google Scholar advanced search: ]

Survey of the online scholarly sources:

Now, we shall give a survey of each of the above mentioned online academic sources. We shall mention such features of these online sources in the survey which we feel would help the users of these sources in effectively searching for online scholarly and academic literature from them.

1) IEEE Xplore Digital Library:

IEEE Xplore is a digital library run by IEEE which provides online access to IEEE journals, transactions, letters, magazines, conference proceedings and educational courses. It provides access to almost a third of the world's current electrical engineering and computer science literature. The library offers its service of searching for scholarly literatures from its database for free for members as well as for non-members, but it requires the users to pay for actually accessing these documents.

Some of the site’s features are listed below: [Taken from:]

IEEE Xplore hosts on its database:
• The world’s most highly cited technological journals.
• Nearly 2 million scholarly documents from nearly 1.4 million authors and researchers.
• 143 IEEE and IET journals, magazines, and transactions.
• Proceedings from more than 850 IEEE and IET conferences (The list of all the conferences is available on the site, arranged according to the conference titles).
• Over 1,900 approved and published IEEE standards.

Some other features include:
• All the scholarly documents are in searchable PDF format. This is important if you need to search for particular topic in a large document covering a variety of topics.

• More than 12,500 new scholarly papers are uploaded on the library’s database every month.

• The digital library provides complete citation records for all of its scholarly documents.
• The digital library notifies it’s users by free e-mal whenever new journal, transaction, and magazine issues are posted online, if the user selects this option for himself / herself.
• The library also holds regular and scheduled training sessions a few times in a month which are available for everyone. Training sessions offer the opportunity to learn the best practices in searching IEEE content as well as getting quick demonstrations of new features of the IEEE Xplore digital library.

[You can register for this service over here: file:///E:/ICT%20project/Report/Sources/IEEE/IEEE%20-%20Digital%20Library%20Training.htm]


Google Scholar is a freely-accessible Web search engine that indexes full text of scholarly literature as well as provides links to documents from other online scholarly sources. Google Scholar database includes the most peer-reviewed online journals of the world's largest scientific and technological publishers.
Google Scholar aims to sort articles the way researchers do, weighing the full text of each article, the author, the publication in which the article appears, and how often the piece has been cited in other scholarly literature. The most relevant results will always appear on the first page.
Through its "cited by" feature, Google Scholar provides access to articles that have cited the article that is being viewed by the user. While, through its "Related articles" feature, Google Scholar presents a list of closely related articles, ranked primarily by how similar these articles are to the original result, but also taking into account the relevance of each paper. Using these features the user can search for related articles or other articles by the same author.
The Google Scholar main search page only provides the official search results and does not cover free full text versions of articles. Access to such non-subscribed versions of the scholarly articles is now provided by a link on the Google search page, where one can find such open access articles. If you search for some online book / article using Google Scholar, you would see an option saying “All Versions”, below the search. If you click on “All Versions” a list of same scholarly article hosted on different sites would be displayed, and you may able to find an article which is hosted on some non-commercial site. You can download the required document from these non-commercial sites.

3) ACM Digital Library:

The ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) Digital Library is a collection of citations and full text scholarly documents from ACM journal and newsletter articles and conference proceedings. Is also provides access to the ACM Guide, which is a collection of bibliographic citations and abstracts of works published by ACM and other publishers.
Everyone who subscribes to the digital library get unlimited access to all of the library’s content, and they also get access to some other features some Advanced search for the scholarly literature available on the digital library, and some other personalized services. While, the non-subscribers and the general public can only access the basic search and browse options available on the library’s main page, and to actually gain access to the searched articles they have to subscribe. If the user is ACM member but hasn’t subscribed to the Digital Library, he / she can download articles for $5 per article ($3 for student members), while, non-members have to pay $10. On the other hand, these articles are freely accessible for subscribers of the Digital Library.

[Frequently asked questions for the ACM Digital Library are available here:]


The IET Digital Library holds more than 85,000 technical papers from all IET journals, magazines, conference publications and seminar digests. Highly cited journals such as Electronic Letters are available alongside 20 IET research journal titles, the IET's member magazine Engineering & Technology, plus seminar digests and conference publications. Also available on the IET Digital Library is the IET's online only journal Micro & Nano Letters.

The digital library offers you to freely browse the table of contents and abstracts of research papers, and search for articles in many areas of electrical and electronic engineering, including power, radar, telecommunications, circuits, computing, control and IT. However, the user needs to subscribe to gain the following benefits:
• Unlimited access to the publications of the user’s choice.
• Download of full-text of articles in PDF format.
• Browsing of html references and articles that have cited the article that the user is reading.
• Viewing of full-text documents or IET Inspec abstracts by clicking on citation links.
• Buying of individual articles in PDF formats with a credit card online.
• Browsing through online journal archive.



Scopus is a bibliographic database covering abstracts and citations and web-based research tool provided by Elsevier in cooperation with a number of university research libraries
It is a very large data base of research literature holding over 16,000 peer-reviewed journals from more than 4,000 publishers. Scopus offers innovative tools that give a quick and easy overview of search results and refines them to the most relevant ones. It also offers alerts to keep the users up-to-date on new articles matching their search queries. All in all, Scopus has been designed and user-tested in such a way so that a user can spend less time on mastering databases and more time on research.
Scopus only offers its services to subscribed users, so basically you have to pay even for searching for scholarly articles through the Scopus search engine. However, for special interest, the user can request a free trial of 30 days that lets you experience everything that Scopus has to offer. Scopus also holds a wonderful demo on its webpage which gives a detailed analysis into its features and techniques for finding specific scholarly literature. This very useful demo and should be viewed by every new user of Scopus as it provides a great insight into the scholarly source’s workings. The demo can be found on the main marketing page of Scopus [] and its URL is:

Scopus is aimed at improving research productivity and effectiveness by offering the following features:

  • The Scopus Citation Tracker provides a simple way to investigate citations in a number of different ways. This functionality enables users to track data year by year for a specific author or topic. With the Scopus Citation Tracker, users can evaluate:

1)The most highly cited author in a field and check that author's relevance
2)The real-time citation data of articles and authors of interest
3)What topics are hot in familiar or unfamiliar subject areas
4)What subjects are being cited by other subjects

  • Scopus’s Document Download Manager allows users to easily download and organize multiple full-text articles simultaneously.
  • Scopus offers a simple and intuitive interface to quickly refine the user’s search results.
  • Specialized alerts are present, which when activated by the user, helps the users in searching for scholarly literature in a more effective way. Some of the common alerts available for users on Scopus are as follows:

1)Search alert send new results from a previous search directly to the user’s mailbox.
2)Document citation alert notifies the user when an article the user has specified is cited by another article.
3)Author citation alert notifies the user when any of an author's (which has been specified by the user) publications get cited.

  • Users can view articles that share references by using ‘Related Documents’. This is useful if you want to do in-depth study on a particular topic.
  • A session of up to 50 searches allows you to review previous results, edit your searches, save them for a future session or set up an alert to receive new results by email.

Finally, if the user is facing any problem in using any part of Scopus, he / she should read the Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ) from here: and if the query is still unanswered then it is recommended that the user contacts the local e-helpdesk from:

Our main learning achievements

Now, we shall conclude our wiki page entry by writing the main things we learnt from researching for this project.
First of all we learnt of good online academic sources that we can use when if we need to search for scholarly literature online. We also came to know of the various features offered by these online sources and learnt how to productively use these sources to effectively search for scholarly documents. Lastly, we also became familiar with the process of how researchers share their work on online sources, and this learning achievement is bound to help us later on in our life when – if, and hopefully – we write our own scholarly articles.

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