Academic Literacies and Research Skills
for Social Science Graduate Students

Facilitator Guide

Welcome and Overview

Welcome to Student2Scholar: Academic Literacies and Research Skills! These modules offer students a self-directed learning experience that will develop their research knowledge and skills for their own academic journey from student to scholar.

The purpose of the Facilitator's Guide is to support instructors, librarians, and faculty who provide instruction on academic literacy and research skills  and wish to integrate some or all of the modules into existing curricula. This guide includes information on module design, application in the classroom, downloading and embedding module assets, saving and sharing module work, and badges. 

Phases of Research and the Modules

Every module assists students with developing their abilities across key phases of research in the social sciences. These phases are 1) Inquiry and Exploration; 2) Investigation and Organization; 3) Analysis and Evaluation; and, 4) Creation and Communication. These four research phases are identified in the image map below, which also identifies the nine Student2Scholar modules (represented as M-1 to M-9) that are associated with these phases. Just as research is iterative, students may return to any module at any time on their learning journey.

MAP concept3

Facilitator's Guide Instructions

This guide is fully online for the convenience of students, but downloadable files are also available. For detailed information about the Facilitator's Guide, click the tab series below.


Introduction to Student to Scholar (S2S) 

Based on the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and the Council of Ontario Universities’ Graduate Degree Level Expectations (GDLEs), the Student2Scholar experience is designed to engage students in the topics, issues, and activities most relevant to them as novice and future scholars in the social sciences. These modules hone requisite skills to prepare novice researchers to understand and undertake research, and to participate in scholarly research communities in their field. While these modules are meant to develop students' core academic literacies and research skills, we recognize that each field within the social sciences is unique. In addition, these modules attempt to deepen understanding of all stages of the research and communication process, with the intention of complementing discipline-specific research theory and/or methods courses.

These modules use a range of accessible and interactive media objects and learning activities. In addition to numerous self-paced activities and assessments that provide immediate feedback, students are given multiple opportunities for multimedia content creation using freely available online tools. This content may be uploaded into their research workbook, which students are able to share with their course instructors, workshop facilitators, or research supervisor(s). Students are able to access module content sequentially or at any entry point based on their individual learning needs.

We hope you enjoy engaging with your students using these modules, and we welcome your feedback. Contact us through our Contact Form.


Module License and Use 

These modules are licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA). Users are free to use, download, and modify any part of these modules with proper attribution.

Cite the modules:
Student to Scholar Team from Western University, University of Toronto, and Queen's University. (2015). Student2Scholar: Academic Literacies and Research Skills for Social Sciences Graduate Students. Retrieved from


Target Audience 

The target audience for the S2S modules is graduate level social science students. Our intention is for these modules to support the diversity of our graduate student population who encompass people of different ages, races, ethnicities, genders, religious affiliations, and of varying socio-economic backgrounds. The primary audience for these modules is social science students, but in the initial testing phase of the modules (Summer 2015) librarians and instructors in the Arts and Humanities successfully mapped the modules to graduate-level research courses.


Learning Outcomes and Module Design

The learning outcomes for the S2S modules were developed primarily in the context of the following guidelines and expectations:

  • Four-phase model of research
  • The ACRL's new Information Literacy Framework based on threshold concepts
  • The Council of Ontario Universities Graduate Degree-Level Expectations

The design framework for the S2S modules was developed primarily in the context of the following theoretical frameworks:

  • User Interface Design
  • Heutagogy
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Backwards Design

For more information on the modules' learning outcomes and design framework, please download this PDF file.


How to Integrate the Modules in your Course Curriculum 

The modules contain a variety of self-assessment, tests, quizzes, case studies, videos, and reflective activities, designed with flexibility of use in mind. To that end, facilitators are free to draw upon discrete activities within a module, to select one specific module, or to use the entire collection of modules for use within their courses. We encourage instructors to read the full module before making their selections. 

When you read the module content, you will find that the modules have been written to be used independently by graduate students and that they can also be easily mapped to the curriculum of your courses. Careful attention has been paid to address different levels of learning, engage students in reflective practice, provide self-assessment and formative feedback, offer the opportunity for critical thinking, engage with case studies, and challenge assumptions about research.

The modules can be linked to from within your Learning Management System (LMS). Ask your institution’s IT department about ways to embed the link within your LMS.


The Student vs. Instructor Module View

Students and facilitators will have to create a unique login ID and password in order to access the modules. We invite faculty and librarians to explore the modules, look over the content, discover the modules best suited to their particular course(s), and gain navigation experience to better assist their students in using the modules. A Module Guide is also available to provide instructions on module use.

When a student logs into the S2S modules, they have sole access to view their own progression through the modules, the assessments they take, the quizzes they complete, and the workbook content they write. In other words, there is no ‘facilitator view’ into the content that your student has completed. In order to view, assess, or assign marks for your students' work within the modules, simply ask your students to go to “My Workbooks” (found on the left navigation on their screen), save their work as a PDF, and to send it to you via email, drop box, or other preferred submission method.


Module Navigation and Time to Completion

It will take students approximately three hours to complete all activities in each module. (Time to completion may vary.) You can choose to have students complete the activities in sequence, select specific modules, or select discrete activities within each module to suit your curricular needs. The S2S modules employ both top and left side navigation. On the top navigation, you can select a module from the drop-down menu. From here, look to the left side navigation for options to view the three parts of the module, to view and edit "My Workbooks," and to view the Achievements (the collection of badges earned to date).



The function of the badges is to incentivize all students working on the module content by employing a simple principle of gamification: students are more likely to proceed through challenges when they earn something in exchange for their efforts. The badges reward students and encourage their progress through the curriculum.

There are a total of 10 badges (1 per module). If students complete all of the activities in a module section (e.g. Module 1, Part A), they will receive part of a single badge. If students complete every section in a module, they will receive the completed badge for that module as well as a downloadable certificate (that will also be emailed to the user). Badge awards will be saved to students' individual profile to acknowledge section and module completion.  Students can view their badges (completed and partly completed) in the Achievements section.

Instructors may choose to award course participation marks to students based on the completion of a badge or badges.


Activities Table and Facilitator Guide

The Activities Table provides a sortable list of all of the activities within the S2S modules. You can download the complete S2S Activities Table excel file. 

The Facilitator's Guide provides additional activities within the S2S modules for mastery-level knowledge and skills related to information literacy and research skills. See column to the right of the page.


Download the S2S SCORM files

You can download these SCORM files to be imported into your LMS. They've been published using Articulate Storyline to html5 output and SCORM 1.2 standard. Reporting and tracking is set to slides veiwed.

M2 - Defining Your Research Question

M3 - Where to Search for Information

M5 - How can government information support your research?

M7 - Introduction to Peer Review

M9 - Conversations in Your Scholarly Community

M9 - Your Online Persona


Facilitator's Guide

Facilitators may want to incorporate additional activities from the Facilitator's Guide into their classroom teaching to complement the online S2S modules.

Download the Facilitator's Guide or use the index below to view the Facilitator's Guide online.

pdf icon- S2S Facilitator's Guide



Collecting Citations and Creating Bibliographies

1. Discuss with your class which software tool you use and why.

2. Invite a librarian in to lead a session on a particular software option. There are also online tutorials available for the various options (see Comparison Chart).

Module 1

Module 1

Part A: Accessing Information and Research Support Services

1. Invite a librarian to join your class (or LMS discussion board) to provide an overview of the information ecosystem at your institution and to answer questions.

Part B: Your Journey as a Scholar

2. Have students share any strategies they have developed for addressing / overcoming the imposter phenomenon in your LMS discussion board.
Create a voicethread to share their strategies (as an alternative to discussion board).

3. Invite a panel of senior-level graduate students to visit your class to share their experiences on the road to research.

4. Invite senior-level graduate students to moderate a thread in your LMS discussion board on this topic.

Module 2

Module 2

1. Have students post their concept maps and / or research questions for peer assessment in your LMS discussion board.

Module 3

Module 3

1. Have students share their reflections in an online discussion board.

Module 4

Module 4

1. Have students pair-up with a classmate or select someone working in their field of study/research area and invite them for a brief informational interview, either in-person or via Skype, posing a series of questions related to information management. Questions will be provided, for example:

  • How do you keep up-to-date with the latest research in your area?
  • Do you have specific strategies to help you keep abreast, and/or stay organized that you would recommend?
  • What is your favourite tool or technology to help keep track of your own work and progress as a researcher?
  • Is there anything else I should know about with regard to information management and organization in ‘X’ field of study, that I haven’t asked about or should know?

2. Facilitate a debate (online, within the ‘forums’ area of the LMS, or in-class) where one student, or group of students defend the use of multi-disciplinary databases or ‘discovery layer’ products for graduate-level research, while the opposing side adopts the stance that discipline-specific resources are the information resource of choice for scholars.

3. Conduct a ‘Compare and Contrast’ exercise with their students. An exercise worksheet or template will be provided, which includes evaluation criteria (e.g., comparing the coverage/scope, search functionality, ease of use, etc.). At least three subject-specific research databases will be compared.

4. Building on the concept mapping activities in Module 2* (and especially, the video on how to build a concept map), as well as the information they’ve captured on their Search Strategy Worksheet (above), students will create their own visual thesaurus (using a freely available product of their choice, such as: SnappyWords) and map of the key concepts and related terminology for their research. *N.B. Instructions provided for students who did not complete the concept mapping activities in Module 2.

Module 5

Module 5

Part A: Finding Grey Literature: Web, Databases, and Theses
1. In triads, ask students to answer the following questions:

  1. What makes grey literature “grey”?
  2. Describe your research topic and get feedback on the types of grey literature that would support your inquiry.
  3. Describe one piece of grey literature you have consulted and whether it changed your research perspective.
  4. What is the most difficult aspect of locating grey literature?

2. A subject librarian is invited to class to demonstrate how to search for grey literature relevant to their course of study

Part B: Finding Government Information
1. In triads:

  1. What is the hardest part of locating government documents?
  2. Describe the most useful tools you’ve used for locating government documents.
  3. What search tips can you share for locating government information in the library catalogue?
  4. How did the use of government information change your research perspective?

2. Invite a government documents librarian to class to demonstrate how to search for government information that is relevant to their course of study.

Part C: Finding Statistics and Data

1. A data librarian is invited to class to demonstrate how to search Odesi or how to access data sets that are relevant to their course of study or how to create a data management plan.

2. Small groups of students are given a data set and asked to experiment with the different ways in which it can be visualized.

3. Provide a workshop to introduce SPSS software. 

Module 6

Module 6

1. Share any ethical questions you have about your own research design and discuss with the class.

2. Compare the pros and cons of the two student research proposals. As a class, vote on whether to accept/reject each one and summarize the reasons for the decision.

3. Working in small groups, students are given only the research questions from a single study. The goal is to discuss and record appropriate methods to address the research questions. The actual methods used for the study are then given to the group to compare methods that were actually used. A three-minute summary is presented to the class.

4. Working in groups, students are given a paper without a theoretical framework. The goal is to discuss what theoretical approaches might have been considered. They are encouraged to search for ideas in library databases and on the web. A three-minute summary is presented to the class.

Module 7

Module 7

1. Divide students into groups and give each group a different format to work with. Ask them to identify the purposes and characteristics of that format, as well as when that format might be used in academic work. Ask groups to put their results on chart paper and have a poster gallery session towards the end of class and/or put results in a visual online format and have students do a virtual “walk.”

  1. Identify the formats most commonly used for research in your discipline. Is your discipline open to emerging formats such as blogs or social media? Why or why not?
  2. Hold a discussion/debate with your students regarding the value of established vs. emerging formats:
  3. How might your established vs. emerging resources be perceived differently by your scholarly community?
  4. Do you think that the way your resources are perceived by the scholarly community will affect your research?
  5. How might using emerging formats benefit and enrich your research?

2. Discuss the following quote with your students in the context of creators of information in your field or discipline:
“Experts understand that value may be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices. However, value may be leveraged by individuals and organizations to effect change and or civic, economic, social, or personal gains.” (ACRL Framework - Information has value (p.8))

Module 8

Module 8

1. Visit your institution’s website to locate information about copyright, fair dealing execptions, and public domain. Does your institution have an agreement with the licensing organization Access Copyright?

2. Conduct an interview with a Professor/researcher: What is intellectual property to them and why does it matter? What impact has it had on their own scholarly career?

3. Invite copyright librarian/expert into the course/LMS to discuss how it is handled at your institution.

4. Ask students to examine the copyright statement or policy at your institution. How open (or closed) is it?

5. Open access is facilitated by digital repositories – show students your institution’s repository (e.g. Scholarship @ Western). If your students are required to submit their thesis to it, the class could follow the steps to gain an understanding of the process.

6. Look at what your institution has about copyright and open access on the library website. Does your institution encourage student OA publications?
Have a discussion regarding the new Tri-Council Open Access Policy. What does this mean for researchers? How will this change the publishing landscape?

7. Read and discuss this recent article on new Tri-Council guidelines for open access publishing:

Other possible OA resources: - Savage

Minds blog post - interview with OA expert Jason Jackson Baird 

Coonin, B., & Younce, L.M. (2010) Publishing in open access education journals: The authors’ perspectives. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 29(2): 118-132..

Module 9

Module 9

Part A. Scholarly Communities and Conversations

1. Invite a researcher into your course/LMS to talk about their understanding of the scholarly communication & their contribution

2. Invite the scholarly communications librarian into the course/LMS.

3. Identify and discuss with students the venues for scholarly communication, both formal and informal relevant to your subject area

4. Review with students the purpose of your local institution’s research repository and how to search for materials within it.

5. Ask students to find examples of scholarly conversations in their specific discipline that have changed/had a fundamental effect on the discipline. Who are the players? What did they say? How has the conversation evolved to its present state? How might it evolve further?

6. Discussion around user-generated content and the value this can have in research. Getting started article:

7. Blogs are emerging venues for scholarly conversations, where contributors from the academic community interact with fellow-scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and perspectives. Savage Minds (CC license) How do the bloggers contribute, & how do others contribute through commenting? Students to read comments policy & 1 or 2 posts from Savage minds (with comments), then think about the nature of the responses, and how these responses contribute to building scholarly communication & community, could have scenario with Tanya, who would like to contribute to Savage Minds? How might she consider the commenting policy/shape her comments?

Part B. Managing your Professional Persona

1. Share your own experiences with students about positive and negative off-line and online personas you have seen in your career or experience.

2. Invite a member from your institution’s career counselling centre to share tips and advice for students.

3. Find a TED talk about social media presence to show your students. Do they agree/disagree? Have they taken any of the advice in their own practices?

4. Have your students share their social media profiles with a friend or mentor to get feedback on the profile and how it presents them professionally (Provide guiding questions that can be given to the reviewer). 

Part C. Knowledge Mobilization

1. Discuss your own experience of joining the scholarly conversation, or host a panel by inviting several colleagues into your class. How did you all get started?

2. Facilitate conversations among the students/their cohort to brainstorm about how to join the conversation to come up with a list.

3. Invite a librarian to your class to get their expertise in how and where to search for conversations to join.