Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

College-Level Research Tutorial

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

Introduction to Module 2

This module introduces scholarly sources and search tools. Finding and interpreting scholarly sources is challenging, but  it gets easier to do when you understand the context of scholarly sources: why they exist, where to find them, and what kind of information they can give you.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:


  • Scholarly sources are a way academics communicate about common interests
  • Some search tools are designed for academic research


  • Navigating Search@UW (the main library search tool)
  • Interpreting scholarly search results

Practical Skills-2

Watch the three videos: 1. What are scholarly sources?, 2. Where do I search?, and 3.First Search@UW search. Use the arrow commands below the media player to move on to the next video.


Try It Out-2: The Source Spectrum

We've learned that different sources are created with different audiences in mind to fulfill different purposes. Taking time to consider a source's author, audience, and purpose will help you understand the information shared in the source and use it appropriately. Complete the activity below to practice differentiating popular and scholarly source types based on their author, audience, and purpose.

1. Review Example Sources

Without reading or watching each source in full, review the 5 source examples below. Make note of details that point to each source's author, audience, and purpose.

Tip: Each example link will open in a new window. Once you've opened all the sources, compare them. What are the similarities and differences in the ways the sources are formatted and made available?

Research Article

News Source 1


News Source 2


2. Complete the Drag-and-drop Source Spectrum Activity

After you've decided where each example source falls on the Source Spectrum, Arrange the source tiles on the spectrum. Once you're satisfied with how you ordered the examples sources from popular to scholarly, check your answer for feedback.


3. Reflect

Discuss or reflect on the following questions:

  • What evidence did you find in the example sources that helped you decide where these sources go on the spectrum?
  • How could you use News Source 2 and the Research article from the examples above in a college-level paper?

21st Century Skills-2: Practicing Online Civic Reasoning

In 2016 researchers from Stanford University published a study that found most teens couldn’t tell the difference between news sources and advertisements.

The Researchers conclude that skills like investigating a source’s creator and comparing information across multiple sources are essential practices for responsible digital citizenship.

1. Listen

Listen to the All Things Considered “4 Minute Listen” interview with Stanford professor Dr. Sam Wineburg,  then consider the reflection questions below. Stanford Study finds most students vulnerable to fake news

(transcript of audio available on segment webpage).

2. Discuss

  • What if you were really interested in a specific article, but you weren't sure if it was trustworthy. What would you do to decide if its information was reliable? 

Instructions for Reuse

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.