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CMN432 Professional Communications for Engineers

Why Would an Engineer Need to Find Information?

  • Write a report or paper

  • Learn how a device works

  • Find a formula or analytical method

  • Conduct a design exercise

  • Find products or components

  • Find material properties

  • Your instructor will provide additional examples of how information is used in your field

What is Scholarly?

—What is scholarly?
  • articles are reviewed by a panel of experts before they are accepted for publication
  • articles have footnotes and references
  • articles often contain diagrams and charts but few glossy pictures
  • articles are written by a scholar or specialist in the field
  • articles report on original research or experimentation
  • contain very limited advertising
  • are often published by professional associations
  • use terminology associated with the discipline 

What Makes a Source Authoritative?

Author Credentials

  • The author is knowledgeable in the field of engineering.
  • Holds engineering degree(s)
  • Employed by a university, college or reputable organization
  • Received awards or acknowledgements
  • Holds/held positions with professional societies
  • The author writes to inform other engineers or engineering scholars (rather than a general audience or consumers)

(Scholarly Journals instead of newspapers)


  • The material is well written and coherent; research has been conducted within the field's acceptable standards.

(ex. Peer Reviewed Journal, where the article has been reviewed by other scholars for content)


  • The author shows s/he has researched the topic by presenting a bibliography (list of references) on the topic from other authoritative engineering sources.


  • Whether commercial or professional society, fee-based or open access, the publisher is recognized and well-respected within the engineering community.

Exercise: Parking Guidance Systems

Compare these items.   Which ones would be good references for a paper on parallel parking systems?  Why or why not?

  1. Jeong, S. H., Choi, C. G., Oh, J. N., Yoon, P. J., Kim, B. S., Kim, M., & Lee, K. H. (2010). Low cost design of parallel parking assist system based on an ultrasonic sensor. International Journal of Automotive Technology, 11(3), 409-416. doi:

  2. Toyota unveils car that parks itselfCNN September 1, 2003. 

  3. Healey, J.R. and Mays, K. (December 6, 2012)  Which cars park themselves best?  Challenge resultsUSA Today

  4. Zhao, Y. and Collins, E.G. Jr. (2005)  Robust automatic parallel parking in tight spaces via fuzzy logicRobotics and Autonomous Systems 51(2-3):111-127.    

  5. Gill, B. (March 28, 2014) Lexus LS: 25 Years.  Lexus News