I’m always looking for new data about the use of information sources by engineers, and so I was delighted to see the results from some research conducted by a major multi-national company within their engineering community. They asked how frequently different online sources of information were used by engineers, allowing them to determine the relative importance of these sources.

Relative Importance of Online Information Sources to Engineers

The graph shows – unsurprisingly – that search engines are most important, although Wikis being the second most frequently used resource is perhaps surprising. Regulatory Body/Government websites and professional society websites are also used frequently.
The low use of online universities (such as iTunesU) is perhaps down to engineers looking for information when they need it, rather than undertaking a course of study, whilst social bookmarking clearly has little impact on engineers.
It’s particularly interesting to see that the company intranet ranks just below the middle of the group of information sources. It wasn’t that many years ago that engineers would always check the company data library first whenever they needed information – particularly in large companies – and this study shows how dramatically the internet has changed the way engineers access information.