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Latin American Studies Online: Tips for Effective Online Searching

Introduction to Online Searching

ALL online resources are databases, which are electronic indices.  This is true of internet browsers, online library catalogs and archives, secondary (article, book, periodical) and primary source databases, etc.  Databases are made up of records, which are composed of fields: Author, Title, Publisher/Provider, Abstracts or Tables of Contents, Subject Headings or Descriptors, etc.  Thus, the terms (keywords) that you use to search for information in online databases match up with the terms used in these fields in the database. Because of this, if you aren't finding useful results, you need to try different terms.

Also remember, that your initial keyword search in any resource will point you to some but not all resources.  It is important that you do follow-up searching with the relevant descriptors/subject headings or for works by the same author, etc.

Targeted Searching in Catalogs for electronic resources (books, articles, films, etc.)

Library catalogs are good places to begin looking for electronic resources by keyword, author, title, or subject.  These database do NOT search the content/text of ebooks or journals however. 

Looking for a journal?  Search by the title of the journal (not the title of the article).

Search UCSD (Roger)

  • Use to find e-books, e-videos, e-films and e-resources in the UCSD Library. Search by author, title, subject, or keyword.
  • Limit to “electronic materials” in the drop down menu on the right (the default choice is "All Collections"). . The e-link to the resource is in the record.
  • Many e-resources can only be viewed/accessed by UCSD students/faculty/staff and require proxy or VPN for off-campus use.

Melvyl: e-resources at other UC campuses are likely not accessible at UCSD (as they are generally licensed by specific schools).  HOWEVER, MELVYL can be very useful to search for ebooks for a couple of reasons:

  • The faceting menu on the left makes it very easy to limit to search for online resources in specific collections:
    1. ‚Äčat the top, select University of California or UC San Diego Library to narrow to the appropriate collection, and
    2. below that, select various formats: i.e. Dowloadable Article, eBook, eVideo.  Please note that for the formats, you will need to click on the "See More" link to gain access to all of these options.  
  • if you identify something we don't have access to at UCSD, we can try to acquire it for our collection.


Starting Points for Research

Although these resources also point to print materials, as databases comprised of bibliographic essays with annotated bibliographies, this is an excellent online reference tool to help student (and researchers) get up to speed on particular bodies of literature and identify key works -- including online materials


Oxford Bibliographies: Latin American Studies

Annotated peer-reviewed bibliographies of topics spanning the Latin American studies field, alphabetically from 16th-Century New Spain to Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas.

Handbook to Latin American Studies

Searchable, annotated bibliography of scholarly works in Latin American Social Sciences and Humanities.The Handbook is a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. Each year, more than 130 academics from around the world choose over 5,000 works for inclusion in the Handbook. Continuously published since 1936, the Handbook offers Latin Americanists an essential guide to available resources.   

Sage Research Methods is an additional resource that may be very useful in developing your research project.  There are various ways to search for useful material and models for research and writing.

1) One option is to put keywords into the search box at the top

- the default order of the results will be by relevance; you can change this to title or publication date by using the drop down options from the Sort by: box

- you can also narrow your results using the faceting menu on the right: choose a particular format or kind of resource (books, reference materials, journal articles, datasets, case studies, video, etc.)

2) A second path is to choose one of the options below the search box (such as: find quick answers and definitions (reference); learn about quantitative methods; design a research project; learn from stories of real research)

- you can browse through the results, using the faceting menu on the left to narrow down further by method, discipline, or your level of education/research (undergraduate … etc.)

3) Sage Research Methods also includes a project planner, which provides you with a guide to the stages of carrying out a research project (finding topic, reviewing the literature (previously conducted research in this area), developing a researchable question, finding and gathering resources or data, writing, etc.)


Boolean operators should be in ALL CAPS

There are two wildcard symbols and either/both can be inserted in more than one place in the search:

? adds 1 character in the space indicated

* adds multiple characters