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Latin American Studies: Beginning Your Research in Latin American Studies

An introductory guide to doing research in Latin American studies in the UCSD Library

Beginning Your Research on Latin America

Information about Latin America can be found in a variety of formats and disciplines.   Much of what you find will be in Spanish or Portuguese.  This guide is designed to direct you to major sources of information in a variety of areas.

For places to search for books, click on the "Finding Books" tab.  A good way to begin searching for books is to use MELVYL, which allows you to search in all of the UC Libraries.  If you need more materials, you can then expand out to Libraries Worldwide.  Links to Melvyl and other resources for books (such as the UCSD-Specific Library Catalog, ROGER) can be found on the "Finding Books" Tab.  Theses and Dissertations are also featured on the "Finding Books and Articles" Tab.  Although they are unpublished book-length works, they are often important sources of original information and their bibliographies can lead you to other sources.

To locate academic journal articles, use the various databases listed on the "Finding Articles" Tab. News sources are listed on another tab at the top.

Much of the social science literature related to Latin America is published in grey literature (information produced by non-governmental organizations, research institutes, and other non-commercial publishing houses).  Major access points to grey literature are outlined on the Grey Literature Tab.

Primary sources are of particular importance in doing historical research or identifying first-hand perspectives on topics.  Some of the information may be in archives that have been digitized.  In some cases, the documents themselves may not yet be digitized, but finding aids to those collections help you identify if they can be helpful in your research.  Beneath the main "Primary Sources" tab on this research guide are several specialized pages identifying ways to access different kinds of primary sources.  These include  Archives and Archival Information; Government Resources; Images and Maps; Statistics/Data Sets/Public Opinion; Newspapers; and Government Information; Primary-Source-Rich-Materials Accessible at UCSD [These include resources unique to UCSD and resources that UCSD pays to provide access to] and Primary-Source-Rich-Materials beyond UCSD [These include open-access digital libraries and materials that may be borrowed via inter-library-loan].  

Please note that:

  • Government information from Latin America includes presidential messages, statements of public policy, and government produced statistics about country and its activities.  U.S. government information (particularly hearings and State Department documents) contain a wealth of information about U.S. relations with Latin America.
  • Quantitative data (statistics, data sets/ public opinion surveys, etc.) are important sources to use to support ideas you put forth.  These may require a basic knowledge of statistical program such as STATA.

Excellent Starting Points for Many Latin American Topics Include:

Country Studies

Click on the Country Information and Reports tab for a list of resources providing background, introductory, and even advanced country information and reports.  Many of these resources are taken from the Statistics/Data Tab of the UCSD Library International Government Information Research Guide which points to resources to find great background information and statistics on countries around the world. Using such resources is a helpful place to start research on any Latin American country.

Another great source for information on international topics and individual countries are the United Nations Research Guides.

Latin American Research Centers at UCSD

Center for Research Libraries

CRL's Home Page (which provides access to the Center's Main Catalog) is a great starting point for research on any topic (including Latin America).  In addition to this and the Latin American Studies Research Guide, mentioned to the left, the Guide to Materials in the Latin American Materials Project (LAMP) points to man y collections that CRL has helped to develop.  In recent years, CRL has begun acquiring and developing resources in electronic format.  Many of theseresources are included in MELVYL.  If MELVYL does not hold these materials, they can be requested by submitting an online interlibrary loan request form, noting that the material is available from CRL.