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NATS 1575: Forensic Science - An Introduction  

Last Updated: Feb 9, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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(Flow of Scientific Information, University of Waterloo, 2007)


What kinds of document do scientists and engineers use

  • Peer review: researchers validating each others work before publication
  • Kinds of documents:
    • patents: government granted license to an invention
    • standards: agreed upon methodology: ie 802.11
    • journals: research results presented in a periodical/magazine. Peer reviewed.
    • trade literature: discipline-specific magazines. Not Peer Reviewed.
    • popular press: regular newspapers, magazines, websites. Not peer reviewed.
    • conference proceedings: research results presented at a meeting. Often peer reviewed, but not always.
    • technical report: description of a solution to a specific problem. Not peer reviewed.
    • books
      • reference: encyclopedias, tables, data collections, properties
      • manuals: lab methods, programming languages, operating systems
      • monographs: general topics
    • technical specifications: how a system, device or component works, ie circuit diagrams, software package

Zotero is the main citation manager used in the humanities and social sciences while Mendeley is the main one for most science disciplines.

Websites such as the Citation Machine can be also helpful in setting up references.


York's SPARK modules have lots of information about writing, referencing and how to avoid mistakes in attribution. 


My topics: Figuring out the age of various materials, like ivory, hair or wood or the reliability of fingerprints.

Let's generate some keywords!  An interesting Wikipedia page to check out is Forensic Science or Forensic dactyloscopy.

When searching in a non-forensic source, it's often handy to use the word "crime" or "forensic" in the search.

For databases, some searches to try include:

  • forensic and dating and ivory
  • forensic and dating and wood
  • forensic and age and ivory
  • forensic and fingerprint and reliability
  • forensic and fingerprint and validity
  • forensic and ballistic and reliability



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  • Books 24x7
    Full-text electronic republication of hundreds of books and journals covering various topics including science and technology studies.
  • Google Books
    The full text of many books is searchable through Google Books. Look up a book here to see if it is worth borrowing or tracking down.

Interdisciplinary Indexes & Databases

  • Scholars Portal
    This resource consists of a single search screen that provides access to multiple databases for searching literature in a variety of disciplines. Choose a subject area or select specific databases to conduct a search.
  • Web of Science
    Indexes 8,5000 research journals across the Social Sciences, Sciences and Arts & Humanities. Allows you to search for articles by subject, author, journal and author address as well as for articles that cite a known author or work (citation searching). Coverage is from 1945 - present. See our Guide to Using Web of Science
  • Scopus
    Scopus is a comprehensive international database for scientific, medical, and technical information. It contains approximately 18,000 journal titles from 5,000 publishers, and abstracts going back to 1960. More information
  • CBCA Complete  Icon
    This database, with 600 full text titles, is the most comprehensive Canadian reference collection available today. Accessible to readers and researchers at every level, CBCA Complete features a highly-respected, diversified mix of publications, including scholarly journals, trade publications, dissertations, books, newspapers and magazines.
  • Google Scholar
    A subset of regular Google, it allows users to search for articles from all disciplines. Content is heavily skewed towards scholarly and scientific information; however, humanities and social science content is present, as is non-scholarly material.


  • Canadian Newsstand  Icon
    A searchable full-text database of major Canadian daily newspapers. Major titles include Calgary Herald (1988-), Edmonton Journal (1989-), Halifax Daily News (1990-), Montreal Gazette (1985-), National Post (1998-), Ottawa Citizen (1985-), Toronto Star (1985-), Vancouver Sun (1987-)
  • Lexis Nexis Academic  Icon  Icon  Icon
    Provides access to documents and records from more than 45,000 legal, news and business sources. Includes comprehensive company and industry reports, patent details, merger and acquisition analysis, bankruptcies, spin-offs SEC filings etc.

Peer Review

  • Identifying Peer-Reviewed Journals
    York University Libraries' guide to identifying peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ulrich's Web
    Look up a journal in Ulrich's Web to find out if it is peer-reviewed. Note: Ulrich's calls peer-reviewed "refereed."

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Need a book or article that's not in our catalogue? Use RACER (our interlibrary loan system) to borrow it from another university library.

Related Subject Guides

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