Skip to Main Content

Finding information for Chemical Engineering

A guide to help you find information for your essays, projects, reports or dissertation


These practical exercises will introduce you to key services and search techniques in finding information at the University of Birmingham.  They will guide you through FindIt@Bham which covers:

  • The Library Catalogue
  • the University’s gateway to electronic resources

If these activities are being completed as part of the supported database session, a tutor will be available to support you should you have any questions or problems.  Work through the exercises, noting your answers.

You can use your own search terms if you prefer, the exercises are intended for guidance only.

Start the session by logging into your PC with your Active Directory username and password, opening the internet and going to FindIt@Bham

FindIt@Bham Tutorials

The University’s Library Catalogue gives details of all of the material held in the libraries.  This activity guides you through the process of finding a book. 

ACTIVITY 2: Finding a book

Book details: 'Coulson and Richardson's Chemical Engineering by J.M. Coulson & J.F. Richardson Vol.3, Chemical and Biochemical Reactors and  Process Control edited by J.F. Richardson & D.G. Peacock

  1. Click on the search box.
  2. Type the details of either the title of the book, keywords, authors or a combination of these
  3. How many copies of this textbook are held by the library?
  4. What is the date of publication?
  5. Who is the publisher?
  6. Where are the books located, give both the name of the library and the shelfmark?


A key information type in Metallurgy and Materials Science is journals.  It is very important that you understand the different elements of a reference to a journal article, and then how to go about finding the article, both online and in print. 

Anatomy of a journal reference

The most important elements of a reference to a journal article are:

  • Journal title (publication title)
  • Volume, issue, date
  • Author
  • Article title

These should be presented in a consistent style in your resource or reading list (and your own reference lists).    

e.g:  Valenti, M. (2000).  Kicking the OPEC habit Mechanical Engineering 122 (5) : p44 – 51.

So in this case:

  • the journal title is Mechanical Engineering,
  • the volume number is 122,
  • the issue number is 5,
  • the date is 2000.  
  • the author is Valenti
  • the article title is 'Kicking the OPEC habit'
  • the page numbers are 44-51

 When searching for a journal article, you need to start by looking for the Journal title



ACTIVITY 3: Finding an electronic journal

Finding a journal on FindIt@Bham

Journal article details: Valenti, M. (2000).  Kicking the OPEC habit Mechanical Engineering 122 (5) : p44 – 51.

  1. Go to the Advanced Search
  2. In the search box type in the title of the journal.
  3. Select the material type ejournals
  4. Select ‘Online items’ from the drop down menu.
  5. From the results locate the journal and click on ‘View online’. Note the years available from the different services, and click on the hyperlink to connect to a service of your choice.  Drill down through the years, volumes and issues to find vol.122, issue 5.  Scroll down the page to find the article, and then click on the link to “Full Text” or “PDF” to see the text.


Go back to the search box and look for some of the following journals:

  • The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering
  • Applied Catalysis B: Environmental
  • Computer-aided engineering journal
  • Chemie Ingenieur Technik

Note that there is an option via the pin icon to place the journal in your e-shelf


ACTIVITY 3A: Finding a print journal

Finding a journal in the library

If your journal is not available electronically, it will not be listed in the ‘online items’ section.  To find print journals in the libraries, you will first need to consult the Library Catalogue.  Try the following search for the journal ‘Journal of Materials Education':

  1. Go to FindIt@Bham
  2. Type the title of the journal into the search box, then select On the shelves  from the drop-down menu and a list of results will appear.
  3. Find the journal and click on Check for holdings to find out the volumes/years stocked, and their location.  What is the earliest volume available?

​Most of the print journals you will need are stocked in the Main Library. 

NB Sometimes the most recent years of a journal may be electronically available, but older ones will be available in print only.

The journals held at Birmingham are just a small subset of the journals covered by bibliographic databases, which themselves cover a subset of all of the journals in the world. How to use these is covered in the next activities

An important part of the academic process is searching the literature to find current and older research to inform your ideas and back up your arguments.  The most efficient way of searching the literature is to use a good quality ‘bibliographic database’.  Examples of these include Compendex, ANTE and Web of Science.  The sooner you start using these, the more confidently and efficiently you will search them, and the more time you will save!

The University subscribes to a range of different types of online resource, many of which are relevant to Chemical Engineering.


ACTIVITY 4: Locating databases

Go to FindIt@Bham and login with your University username and password.

  1. Click on ‘Databases’
  2. Go to ‘Filter by:'
  3. Click on the drop-down menu 'All Subjects'
  4. Select the category ‘Engineering’
  5. Click on the drop-down menu to the right ‘All’
  6. Select 'Materials + Metalurgy'
  7. Note how many results this finds
  8. You should see an alphabetical list of relevant resources, complete with a short description under ‘View full record’ and the resource type. 
  9. Name 3 different resource types that can be found in your results.




Accessibility statement