3 weeks


1h to 2h/week


Course on demand


General & scientific knowledge

Course language



The “Introduction to Documentary Research” MOOC aims to present the methodology involved in literature review, an essential step in any scientific or technical work, used across all disciplines. The course looks at how to create a bibliography and the correct habits to use when citing authors.


Identify relevant sources in a given field of study.
Conduct a literature review.
Evaluate sources, particularly those with free online access.
Make the best use of database tools and queries.
Build and expand a properly structured bibliography.
Learn how to cite sources correctly and avoid plagiarism.

This course seeks primarily to teach students how to identify relevant sources in a given field; how to conduct research; how to find and evaluate sources, especially those with open access online; how to cite authors; etc. It also aims to show students how to optimize their literature search by encouraging them to make the most of the tools and queries of bibliographic databases. By the end of this course, students should be able to build and expand an orderly bibliography, and know how to properly cite their sources in order to avoid plagiarism.

The MOOC is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the definition of documentary research and the tools used to conduct it. The second part provides more information on copyright, plagiarism and the necessary steps for conducting research. Lastly, the third part is devoted to the use of databases and resources offered by the École Polytechnique Library (BCX) and online open access.


Week 1: Documentary research for all!
Documentary research is useful in all disciplines, whether it is used for research or practical work. This module gives you the essential tools to understand how to conduct it effectively and how to cite your sources correctly.

Tools and definition of documentary research
1.0 Introduction - Why should you conduct documentary research?
1.1.1 Presentation standards - Systems
1.1.2 Presentation standards - ISO690, IEEE, Nature
1.2 Introduction to Citeulike
1.3 Introduction to the use of EndnoteWeb
1.4.1 Zotero - Part 1
1.4.1 Zotero - Part 2
Quiz: Understanding - Week 1

Week 2: Useful methodology for conducting documentary research
This module aims to teach you a useful methodology to carry out your research and show you how to avoid the mistakes of plagiarism.
How to conduct proper documentary research
2.0 Introduction to Week 2
2.1 Plagiarism - Guest speaker: Jeremy Huet
2.2 Intellectual property and copyright
2.3 How to build a research project
2.4.1 Where to find your sources - Part 1
2.4.2 Where to find your sources - Part 2
Quiz: Understanding - Week 2

Week 3: Searching bibliographic databases
This last module applies the research methodology you will have learned and the use of bibliographic reference software, by showing you how to use the main bibliographic databases and specialized search engines.
Introduction to bibliographic databases
3.0 Introduction to Week 3
3.1 Presentation of the Web of Sciences
3.2 Introduction to Business Source Elite
3.3 Mathscinet
3.4 Arxiv-Isidore
3.5 Europresse
3.6 Presentation of open archives - HAL
3.7 Five research tips - End of course
Peer Review: Bibliography