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OnRamps History: For Instructors

A guide for OnRamps History Instructors on UT Austin Libraries access, information literacy and pedagogical resources.

Teaching Research Skills and Information Literacy


"The set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. . . . Students must demonstrate competencies in formulating research questions and in their ability to use information as well as an understanding of ethical and legal issues surrounding information. This requires a campus culture of collaboration and focus on student learning."

A compelling research question provides structure to research. Your thesis statement can be thought of as the one sentence answer to this question; the rest of your paper or project is an explanation of that answer. A good research question:

  • Contains parameters (boundaries). For example, "Why did witchcraft trials stop?" is a good start to a research question, but "How did agricultural developments in seventeenth century England lead to the decline of witchcraft trials in that country?" is stronger because it contains more parameters.
  • Is controversial, meaning that there are multiple possible answers.
  • Is interesting to you!

Your research question will help you determine what sources to use.

Inclination, leaning, prejudice, predisposition

A biased source is one in which the creator has a view of the issue at hand that had an effect on how they created the source. From the synonyms above, you can see that this can be to a small or large degree. Everyone has biases, and someone with a bias can still write a worthwhile source, but it is up to you to consider how much of a bias is present. Be aware of the biases inherent when an organization has a legislative agenda or is trying to sell something. 

Peer review is a process scholarly articles go through before they are published. Scholarly articles are sent to other experts in the field (peers) to ensure that they contain high-quality, original research important to the field. This is a measure of quality control other types of literature don't go through. 


If you can't tell whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed, check Ulrichsweb.

  1. Log into Ulrichweb.
  2. Type in the title of the journal.
  3. Peer-reviewed journals will have a referee jersey ("refereed" is another term for "peer-reviewed") - example below

See more

See more UT Libraries guides on information literacy and research skills below:

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