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College-Level Research Tutorial

This tutorial models and and teaches users how to navigate and reflect on the research process.

Module 1 Introduction

This module explores strategies for planning your research. Before finding sources for an assignment, it helps to pre-search about your topic in order to learn the important themes, issues, and terms that can be used to search for scholarly sources. The content and activities on this page are designed to develop the knowledge and skills that are key to this stage of college-level research:


  • Lots of academic research starts with personal curiosity
  • Sources and search tools reflect the biases of the people who create them


  • Organize what you know into search-able sub-topics

Practical Skills-1

Watch the three videos: 1.Mind-mapping to Plan Your Research 2. PREsearch Before you REsearch, and 3. Brainstorming Keywords. Use the arrow commands below the media player to move on to the next video.

Try it Out-1: Mind Mapping

1. Use the Mind Map Chart to group related ideas

To break down big ideas into researchable questions and ideas, it helps to make a map of the information you already know. Think about which concepts go well together. Then, select terms from the bank below and drag them to the place in the chart that makes the most sense to you. There is no wrong way to organize these terms, but it will help to consider which terms are general and which terms are more specific.

2. Reflect or Discuss

Discuss with classmates or reflect on your own

  • Look at how you've grouped the terms in your mind map. Which terms did you put together and why?
  • Describe a college-level research topic about Milwaukee Cultures based based on the groups of terms you arranged in your mind map.

21st Century Skills-1: Why Search Algorithms Matter

Algorithms are complex sets of instructions typically used by computers to execute a task or solve a problem, and they play a big role in the way we experience and view the world. Social media platforms, artificial intelligence, and search engines like Google all rely on algorithms to find, organize, and display content based on data these services collect on their users. In the video ‘Algorithms of Oppression’ Noble talks about how we perceive search results as “Objective/Fair/ Neutral," but, in reality there are many algorithmic controls that shape the results we see.

1. Watch

After watching the ‘Algorithms of Oppression’ video, reflect on the question below.

2. Reflect or Discuss

Discuss with classmates or reflect on your own

  • We know that Google uses a search algorithm to anticipate what you want to find. Is this always a helpful feature? Describe an example of a situation in which personalized results are appreciated and an example of when personalized results are misleading.

UWM College-level Research Tutorial 2020 by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.