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SCI 297B Introduction to Research Readiness

Engineering Librarian & CAPLA Liaison

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Paula C Johnson
Main Library A403

Technical Standards

Students, faculty, and staff have full access to the ASTM and IEEE standards databases. The Global IHS database can be searched to find other current standards. Any standard that is needed for a class project or research can be acquired for UA faculty, staff, or students by contacting Paula Johnson for assistance. Please send the standard number, title and any other useful information to

Want learn more about Standards? This tutorial will help!

Technical Reports

"A technical report (also scientific report) is a document that describes the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. It might also include recommendations and conclusions of the research. Unlike other scientific literature, such as scientific journals and the proceedings of some academic conferences, technical reports rarely undergo comprehensive independent peer review before publication. They may be considered grey literature. Where there is a review process, it is often limited to within the originating organization. Similarly, there are no formal publishing procedures for such reports, except where established locally." - from Wikipedia
Includes 200 million pages of science information and R&D results for 36+ U.S. government agencies
Also includes the information within (listed above) and is a gateway to national and international scientific databases. You can search resources from 17 countries

TRAIL (Technical Report Archive and Image Library)
Has detailed historical reports that include materials data, mathematical functions, time series, diffraction patterns, measurements, and much more. The data provided are from direct measurements.


What is a patent?

A patent is the intellectual property right granted by the U.S. Government to an inventor "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the U.S. or importing the invention into the U.S." for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. In most cases, this is twenty years from the date of application. In some situations, the term of the patent may be extended due to delays in the processing of the application. After the patent has expired, the invention becomes public domain. In addition, patent owners must pay a maintenance fee at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after issue or else the patent will expire.

How to Read a U.S. Patent from Queen's University Library provides a detailed description of the sections of a U.S. patent.

Patent types

Utility patent: Describes a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or useful improvement thereof (i.e. what something does)

Design patent: A new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture (i.e. how something looks)

Plant patent: Describes an asexually reproduced distinct and new variety of plant (e.g. ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’ New Mexican Chile Pepper)

Whys & hows of patent searching

You have an idea for an invention — or have gone so far as to create a prototype. Before marketing your invention, you will need to determine if your invention has already been patented. To do this, conduct a thorough patent search. This will usually involve searching a number of different patent sites, so it's useful to keep a log of all your search activity to avoid duplicate efforts.

See General Information Concerning Patents and Patent Process Overview for more information.

You can begin your search the following way:

1.  Brainstorm keywords to describe your invention — think of synonyms.

2.  Use your keywords to search for a similar match of your invention in Google Patents. The Advanced Search in Google Patents lets you enter phrases, exclude a word, etc.

3.  If you find a similar invention, write down its class and subclass.

4.  Use the class and subclass to search patents and patent applications at the USPTO website classification search.

[Note: The default search is CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification), which harmonizes the former European Classification (ECLA) and United States Patent Classification (USPC) systems.]

5.  Trace related patents through references.