When you start a new research project, there are a lot of different places you might look for information to help you learn about your topic. A good place to start is with a book. In this module, we will explore the different types of books and their uses, from textbooks to scholarly books and reference books. You’ll learn how you might use these different types of books in your research and how to find books on your topic at the university library.  

Modes of Learning

In this module, students will use the following modes of learning:

  • Videos and short assessments

This module will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. 

 Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to…

  • Recognize the value of using books in their research
  • Identify the characteristics of different types of books and apply this understanding to classify books by type
  • Use library resources to find books related to a topic

 Key Terms & Concepts

  • Scholarly book
  • Reference book
  • Textbook  

Topic 1: Using Books in Your Research

This first video is an introduction to books. You will learn about what kind of information you can find in a book, when to use a book, how to use a book, and some of the differences between types of books.  

Watch Using Books in Your Research in full screen.


Based on the titles of the books listed below, determine if each  is  a scholarly book, popular book, or reference book. If you find it difficult to determine which type of book each is based on their title, do a quick search to find out more about the book. 

Topic 2: Finding Books

In this video, you will learn about how to search for books through the library as well as about some common engineering e-book collections.

Watch Finding Books in full screen.



In this module, you learned about the different types of books that exist and how you can use them to support your research. You also learned how to find engineering e-books through the university library.   

Icon for references References

[1] McMaster University Library“Scholarly vs. popular sources.” (accessed Oct.22, 2021).  


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Engineering and Information: Research Skills for Engineers Copyright © by Katie Harding, Alanna Carter, Shelir Ebrahimi, and Eva Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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