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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 3 Introduction

This module explores using subject-specific search tools (databases). Just like undergraduates taking classes related to their major, scholars research and publish in specialized subject areas. It's easier to find scholarly sources about a topic when you use tools designed for researchers who share your interests. 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:


  • Subject-specific search tools (databases) help researchers find sources that match their focused interests
  • Finding scholarly sources that support your research takes time and persistence


  • Choose a subject-specific search tool (database) that matches the topic you're researching
  • Finding full-text sources using subject specific databases

Practical Skills-3

Watch the three videos: 1. Who are stakeholders, 2. Using library databases, and 3.Where's the source? Use the arrow commands below the media player to move on to the next video.


Try it out-3: Searching like a Stakeholder

In this activity, you'll practice searching in different library databases and comparing the ways different expert stakeholders (scholars) explore the same issue. You'll also get to practice brainstorming search terms. Important: You will use your search results from Part 1 to complete Part 2.  ​

1. Compare Search Results

In this activity you will compare your search results from two search tools, each designed to support the research of different expert stakeholder:  CINHAL Plus (for healthcare providers) and Sociological Abstracts (For Sociologists). ​Complete steps A and B before moving on to Part 2 of the activity.

A. Open both CINHAL Plus and Sociological Abstracts and conduct a search in each using the same terms: rural food insecurity

B. Review the title and details for the first 4-5 sources that appear in the search results generated by each tool. Note differences and similarities you see in the language and descriptions of these sources. Ask yourself or discuss with a partner: What common research interests do these three stakeholders share?​

Tip: Keep your search CINHAL Plus search results open while completing Part 2​

2. Brainstorm Search Terms

If you were going to conduct a new search for scholarly healthsciences sources--created by and for Healthcare professionals--about rural food insecurity, what search terms could you try?

21st Century Skills-3: Expert Stakeholders Outside of Academia

Scholars aren't the only credible stakeholders contributing to the conversation around a given issue. Although scholarly research is rigorous and focused, the systems behind it are designed to privilege certain ways of knowing over others. Understanding the world around us requires considering a variety of sources. Some information can only be sourced from stakeholders whose expertise is based on cultural knowledge or personal experience.

1. Compare the Maps

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Belcher Islands--an archipelago in Hudson Bay, Canada--were unknown to Western Geographers despite 200 years of sailing expeditions in the region. Inuit people, however, were intimately familiar with this large cluster of islands.

2. Reflect or Discuss

Discuss with classmates or reflect on your own

These two images are different geographic representations of the same land mass. Neither is a scholarly article, but both offer unique information that could be analyzed or interpreted in scholarly research about Sanikiluaq/The Belcher Islands.Take a few minutes to think about the different types of information each image represents, and discuss:

  • Describe the different types of expertise Wetalltok and NASA, as creators of these two sources, might bring to research about the Belcher Islands
  • Which scholarly stakeholders might use Wetalltok's hand-drawn map? How about the NASA image? How might they use it in their research?

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.