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Research Patterns of Engineers - Different by Discipline?

.: Joe Kraus, Science Library at Penrose Library, U Denver, is writing a book chapter covering how engineers do research, and is investigating whether or not research patterns differ between the various engineering disciplines. From his e-mail sent to various discussion groups:

I am writing a chapter covering how engineers do research. It is pretty difficult to generalize research patterns of scientists, since the disciplines have marked differences in the way they go about researching in their fields, but is that true for the various areas of engineers?

Do civil engineers perform research that much differently from electrical engineers, and from aerospace, from chemical, from mechanical? I have not read anything that really distinguishes the research patterns of the different types of engineers.

For example, I'll bet that electrical and computer engineers tend to use a much higher percentage of conference literature than mechanical engineers, but I can't find a source that /clearly/ differentiates information use patterns between the types of engineers. Does one group use patents more than others? Does one group use standards or technical reports more than others?

I've looked at a number of sources, such as King's Communication Patterns of Engineers, Pinelli's chapter on the "Information-seeking behavior of Engineers" (Encyclopedia of library and information science, vol 52, page 167-), Information Sources In Engineering, etc., but I can't find anything that says aerospace engineers use X% patents, y% journal literature, Z%conference lit, etc.

C.D. Hurt in his book, Information Sources in Science and Technology, does make some general distinctions between electrical, mechanical, civil etc.engineers, but he does not give any data to show that mechanical engineers rely more on handbooks than some of the other types engineers. It is just apparent from his bibliography that mechanical engineers use a lot of handbooks, because of the number that are published.

Anybody know of a source, or is this the beginning of a good research project?

I will summarize and send back to the lists, if I get a good bibliography.

Joseph Kraus Science Librarian
Univ. of Denver 2150 E. Evans Ave
Denver, CO 80208
v.303.871.4586 fax.303.871.2290
jokraus AT du.edu

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