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Open Access Publications from the University of California

NetTrail: The Evolution of an Interactive, Self-Guided Tutorial for Undergraduates

  • Author(s): Murphy, Deborah A.
  • Lyons, Ken
  • Hightower, Christy
  • et al.

NetTrail is an online resource designed for University of California Santa Cruz students new to the research process, specifically lower-division undergraduates. It is a self-instructional, self-paced tutorial that covers the research process from initial topic selection to citation styles and the issue of plagiarism. Its content is organized into six modules that contain text, graphics, and interactive components. The modules are followed by a short self-administered quiz. It is not subject-specific and can be used in a variety of introductory courses.

Developed ahead of the curve, NetTrail has become an important and unique component of the Library’s instruction and outreach programs. Additional uses for the tutorial have been discovered that hadn’t been anticipated initially, such as incorporation of an information ethics module and its adoption as an in-house training resource for new library staff and student workers. It is now a featured resource of our research instruction program. (

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