Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Archive by Author

Films on Demand: Course-relevant streaming videos

Find It

Films on Demand Logo, screengrabVCU Libraries has a subscription to Films on Demand Master Academic Collection. Films on Demand’s streaming videos include documentaries from places such as the BBC and PBS as well as instructional videos.

The videos are divided into subject sets (such as mathematics, biology, physical sciences), and they can also be found via a search box. Some videos could be used for a flipped class.  Other videos could serve as introductions to a topic or to refresh students’ knowledge.

Unlike YouTube, Films on Demand videos are not bundled with advertisements and will not follow students’ viewing experience with suggestions to view questionable materials.

Films on Demand is one of several streaming services that VCU students and employees have access to. These include:

  • LinkedIn Learning (formerly, provided by VCU Technology Services): How-to videos, especially useful for learning software tools including Microsoft products, R, and Python;
  • JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) How-to videos for laboratory techniques biology, chemistry, engineering and environmental studies, from basic techniques used in undergraduate courses to cutting edge techniques used in new research;
  • Kanopy Streaming: Documentaries and feature films including many foreign-language films.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image from Films on Demand Master Academic Collection

By JoVE, we’ve got the Journal of Visualized Experiments

Find It

JoVE logo

JoVE, Journal of Visualized Experiments, is a set of video “journals” demonstrating research protocols and methods. JoVE videos typically show the techniques demonstrated by researchers in their labs and have high production quality.

The videos can be used to help train new members of a lab group on a technique. The videos also can be used to better understand the methods used in a research article. For some techniques, the videos can be used to demonstrate what students will be doing in the laboratory portion of a class.

JoVE has sets of videos in different areas that they sell as separate subject journals within their collection. JoVE journals include chemistry, engineering, and a variety of areas within biology from biochemistry to environment to neuroscience.

For several years, VCU Libraries has held a small number of journals within the JoVE collection. This year, VCU Libraries all of JoVE’s videos. Anyone teaching a scientific research technique could save time by first checking JoVE to see if it has a video on the topic.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Engineering Village: New Numeric Search

Find It

Engineering Village now offers a tool to display only those results that contain measurements at a specific value or range in their titles or abstracts.

If you’re looking for a measurement in nanometers, the numeric search will automatically convert units and recognize the same values, even if the abstract expresses units in Angstroms, microns, meters, or some other unit of length. For example, if you are interested in high-temperature superconductors, you can specify exactly what temperature to exceed.

To use the numeric search, first perform a search in Engineering Village, then open the numeric filter bar on the left-hand side of the results to enter the numbers and units.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image: Pay, Numbers, Infinity, Digits by geralt

Engineering Village: Research in engineering and physics

Find ItFestival_automobile_international_2012_-_Zero_Engineering_Type_5_-_020 (1)

Engineering Village is the
major database platform VCU Libraries provides for locating research papers in engineering. Something for nearly every conceivable engineering research topic, no matter how obscure, can be found there.

At VCU, Engineering Village has three science and engineering databases with less memorable names:

Ei Compendex

  • Broad and deep indexing of engineering
  • International scope, including papers in languages other than English
  • Includes conference presentations, not just journal articles
  • Built from the Engineering Index, with content going back to the 1874,  Ei Compendex is useful for locating primary sources in the history of technology
  • About 25,000 records added to it per week or 1.25 million per year


  • Physics plus engineering and computer science sources
  • Deep indexing


  • Reports from federally-funded research submitted to the National Technical Information Service
  • Saves the extra step of going to the NTIS site to search for them
  • Engineering Village gives a full-text link that connects to the NTIS site to order the reports there. Once a report is found in Engineering Village, it usually is less expensive to type in the title of a report into a search engine and access a free copy of the report on the agency’s site or to use interlibrary loan to get a copy via VCU Libraries.

By default, Engineering Village searches all three of these databases, but the databases can be searched individually by changing the check marks on the search screen.

The search box in Engineering Village uses the “controlled terms” from Ei Compendex to offer suggestions for what terminology to use. For exampling, if “fracking” is typed into the search box, it will suggest searching for “hydraulic fracturing.” By using this suggestion, Ei Compendex will retrieve all of the results it has tagged as being about hydraulic fracturing, regardless of whether the authors used that phrase or just the word “fracking.” Engineering Village also displays these controlled terms on the left side of the results screen. This is a valuable shortcut for narrowing results to a precise topic and a way to discover the vocabulary of a subject area.

Because the three databases in Engineering Village are indexing only databases, Engineering Village does not include complete articles. The easiest way to get to full-text papers is to use the Get it @ VCU button to connect back to VCU Libraries. For the articles, conference papers and reports that VCU Libraries doesn’t have, the library can still get them for VCU students, faculty and staff via Interlibrary Loan.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian 

Image: Zero Engineering Type 5, Thesupermat, Wikimedia Commons

Institute of Physics: Access to journals and books expanded

propeller-style graphic

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a scientific nonprofit society with its roots going back to the Physical Society of London in 1874. IOP’s publishing division produces journals such as Journal of Physics and magazines such as Physics World.

In the fall 2015, VCU Libraries updated its subscriptions with IOP to the IOPscience package and platform. IOPscience includes a combination of journals and ebooks in physics and related fields. In addition to the IOP journals already in the collection, VCU Libraries has access to new journals, including

IOPscience includes a historic archive with perpetual access to 65 years of journal content. Most of these materials used to be available at VCU Libraries only in print. Also included in IOPscience are the eBook packages IOP Concise Physics and IOP Expanding Physics.

IOPscience comes to VCU courtesy of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). VIVA works for higher education institutions across the commonwealth to obtain resources that are shared by member libraries. By sharing resources among libraries, VIVA helps VCU Libraries and other Virginia libraries get good value for their library investments.

By Ibironke Lawal, engineering and science collections librarian

Image from New Journal of Physics wallpapers

Manuscript Matcher suggests where to submit

articles in different journals

Find It

When deciding where to submit their research for publication, most faculty use the topic, audience and reputation of the journal as their main criteria. Subjective judgment and advice on how to choose can be supplemented by computerized tools like Manuscript Matcher. Manuscript Matcher uses an abstract and, if provided, a reference list to generate a list of suggestions of journals where that article may be a good fit.

Some publishers, such as Elsevier and Springer, provide free tools to match your abstract to recommended journals, but their recommendations only include that publisher’s journals.  Manuscript Matcher suggests journals across many publishers. Journals in Web of Science’s Core Collection, Journal Citation Reports, or Arts and Humanities Citation Index could be a match. Although Manuscript Matcher is more comprehensive than publishers’ sites, it works best for subject areas that Web of Science covers well.

Along with the suggested journals, Manuscript Matcher displays the Journal Impact Factors. The display includes both the Journal Impact Factor number and a journal’s quartile relative to other journals in the same discipline.

To access Manuscript Matcher, go to Web of Science and click on the Endnote link near the top of the page. Login to EndNote account or create a free account if you don’t have one already. Within EndNote, click on “Match” to access the Manuscript Matcher. From there, you can enter a title and abstract into the Manuscript Matcher. To potentially improve the match, put your reference list in EndNote and link to the list in Manuscript Matcher.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image: Modified from CiteRank Citation Network Diagram, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Material ConneXion: Inspiration supplier

Find It

Artists and designers browse Material ConneXion Database for ideas and inspiration. Engineers and innovators search this resource for new materials that meet unique performance needs. It also offers photographs of more than 7,000 advanced materials.

Fifty to 60 juried, selected materials are added to the database each month. Selected materials are beautiful, functional, sustainable and interesting. Material ConneXion includes many types of materials, including textiles, plastics, ceramics, metals and glass.

The advanced search area allows exploration and discovery. It has an option to search for materials with particular properties, such as heat resistance or colorfastness, without entering any search terms. Material ConneXion includes options for locating certified materials as well.

Material suppliers’ contact information is provided. A built-in email form makes it easy to request samples and price quotes. In regular updates, entries for materials that are discontinued and unavailable are removed from the database.

Find It

By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image: Koroyd, Material ConneXion Materials Database