The following is a list of links to on- and off-campus resources that will help students in conducting research (starting with general resources):

Building methods, materials, and engineering:

Green building, building systems, and energy:


Our UMass librarians offer drop-in hours in room 150 in the Design Building. Check the room for current times.

Writing a research paper

These are general guidelines:

  1. Introduction (what, why): A research paper is supposed to be a professional paper, and as such, must not rely on anecdotal evidence and/or descriptions. Research what others have written and put your work in that context. The paper must acknowledge ideas or extend ideas already existing in the field of study. In short, the paper should establish clear relationships to major theoretical concepts. This section must also provide a clear and well articulated rationale for the study undertaken – why is it important and in what ways does it contribute to the field.
  2. Method (how): You must describe the approach. In other words, explain what you are doing and how it will be accomplished. To do this, you will first need to describe the theory, concepts, and procedures. You must reference existing studies, standards of practice and literature to substantiate the approach taken or to validate the outcomes described.
  3. Analysis (the data): This section needs to be structured precisely so that the reader knows what steps are being taken and what the outcomes are. You need to do more than show photographs – provide evidence of how improvements were made and quantify these. You should have tables, graphs, or charts that clearly explain what was done and what resulted from your actions.
  4. Discussion/Conclusion (summary): Tie it back to the beginning. Describe how the work you did relates back to the body of research described in the introduction. Discuss future work or research gaps that need to be addressed.
  5. References. Cite your references here. Use a consistent format and mention all of the resources you used – even webpages.
  6. Attachments: Add test data, miscellaneous images etc. at the end of your report.

Some other comments:

  • To get started, it is sometimes very helpful to begin with an detailed outline, i.e. a subject header and two or three sentences under each subject header. The Research Writing Guide Checklist gives you a skeleton of an outline, which you can fill in as you do the research and analysis.
  • When writing a research paper, do not use “YOU” or “I”.
  • Photographs and other graphics should be referenced in the text (figure 1, 2, etc.), and either included properly in the text (understand your text editor’s methods to do this) or attached to the back of the document. Make sure everything is readable and if your paper is intended to be published, make sure it can print well in grey tones (i.e. increase contrast).
  • If your paper is intended to be published:
    • Read two or three journal articles published in each of the journals to which you intend to submit. Select one as a model to develop your paper. Read the sample journal article carefully so that you get a sense of what a research paper should look like. Read it for structure and content as well as the language and composition. It will help you when you write.
    • After you have selected the journals to which you will submit your paper, download the author submission guidelines (you may have to write to the editors), so that you can organize and develop your paper according to the journal’s requirements. This is especially important when you are formatting your paper (and the references). It is best to do this BEFORE you start writing because it will save you a lot of time if you have a template from which to work.