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How Scientific and Technical Information Works

Learn everything you need to know about scientific literature, including how to find, understand, use, and ultimately create your own.

"How does information work in science, tech, engineering, and math?" with graphic of a person at a computer

The purpose of this guide is to give students studying in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math the tools to understand how information in these fields works. Early-career scientists and engineers with a functional knowledge of how information functions in their field will be able to find, understand, and implement sources for a variety of purposes, and will be able to synthesize existing data to create something new.

In this guide we'll investigate:

  • How is scientific and technical information shared, and with whom?
  • What formats do different types of scientific and technical information take?
  • How can we most efficiently utilize both library and open-web resources to locate the information we're looking for?
  • What review processes do different types of information undergo in order to be considered trustworthy?
  • What does "trustworthy" even mean in this context?

Different fields make use of different types of information. Engineers make use of technical standards; physicists often work with very large datasets; chemists need access to chemical property information from specialized databases. Computer science and mathematics research is often published in conference proceedings while biology research is usually published in academic journal articles. Due both to the nature of the work, and to the long-standing cultures that are unique to each field, a variety of information types are in regular use. This type of knowledge isn't always taught deliberately in college, but it's essential for success in any scientific or technical career.

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