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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:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12239-010-0050-0

  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 http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2012/12/06/self-parking-cars-challenge/1743199/

  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