This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Unlocking Research is a guide developed by the library staff at the Saint-Lambert Campus of Champlain College to help college level students navigate their way through the research process from the initial definition and development of a research topic to the final citation of sources in the bibliography. Unlike many similar tools, Unlocking Research targets the college level student, avoiding topics such as how to write theses, which are too advanced, and focuses on topics where college students often have difficulties. For example, there is information on how to recognize the elements of a bibliography because college students trying to do a bibliography may not recognize the difference between the article author and the editor of a book or the title of a book and the title of the chapter. Unlocking Research and associated Glossary were created with the help of a grant from the Entente Canada Québec.

What is the structure of ‘Unlocking Research’?

Unlocking Research is a website divided into chapters which echo the process of writing a paper. In order, the topics are as follows:

  • Develop Topic
  • Search Strategies
  • Gather Information
  • Evaluate Information
  • Cite Sources
  • Citation Styles
  • Subject Resources
The Unlocking Research homepage

The Unlocking Research homepage provides easy access to both chapters and subchapters through dropdown menus at the top of the page. These menus are available on al pages of the site.

What is Visual Vocabulary of the Site?

Each of these topics is divided into subtopics. Within each of the topics, the reader can easily progress from one subtopic to another logically as well as graphically by clicking on an arrow to move from one subtopic to the next.

There are numerous visual components to make the information accessible to various types of learners. Videos present the information as a narration illustrated by text.

Choosing a Topic and Thesis – This video will help you select a manageable topic and then develop that topic into a thesis statement.

There are also numerous diagrams to illustrate the material under discussion visually.

Various concepts are explained through the use of diagrams

Various concepts are explained through the use of diagrams caterin to those who are visual learners.

As well, comparison charts make information more understandable.

Various concepts are explained through the use of comparisons

Various concepts are explained through the use of comparisons. This table illustrates how the site explores concepts that the college student may not be familiar with but which university sites do not examine, assuming that the reader has already mastered the concept.

Every page contains a link to a Glossary of Library Terms to enrich comprehension on the part of students unfamiliar with library terminology or second language and foreign students using the resource.

The Glossary of Library Terms

The Glossary of Library Terms provides definitions as well as French-language equivalents.

Using ‘Unlocking Research’ in Your Class

The simple language and progressive logical organization of the website as well as the many visual components lend themselves to in-class presentations directly from the site. These presentations can also easily be incorporated into learning management platforms such as Moodle. The material posted on the website is under a Creative Commons license, and so the contents can be adapted to take specific requirements into account.

The material of the website has already been used to create information units that integrate into Moodle courses. These information units, besides transmitting information, contain quizzes which allow teachers to integrate the material into both hybrid and on-line courses. Contact Martha Frey, Librarian/SMTE at Champlain College’s Saint-Lambert campus for more information about using this tool. She can be reached at

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