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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  Although they are unpublished book-length works, they are often important sources of original information and their bibliographies can lead you to other sources.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:

Annual Reviews 

Annual Reviews is a searchable, online database that gathers citations (many with full-text links) to articles that constitute bibliographic/research reviews on given subjects. Like reference tools, they are very helpful for getting up to speed on a particular topic or concept and identifying key researchers and writings exploring the topic or using a particular framework or theory. It is oriented towards the sciences and social sciences more than the arts and humanities.

The Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress 

has a number of resources to aid with research. These include the Handbook of Latin American Studies (featured below), the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, Finding Aids and Research Guides (which point to primary sources in various reading rooms throughout the Library).

CRL's Research Guide on Latin American Studies 

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an excellent resource for books, periodicals, manuscripts, newspapers, and archival materials in print, microfilm, and digital formats. UCSD belongs to this international consortium of university, college, and independent research libraries, which allows UCSD patrons to borrow CRL materials via interlibrary loan for extended periods. Please see the box to the right for more information on CRL resources and how to use CRL to get relevant materials

Handbook of Latin American Studies 

The Handbook of Latin American Studies is an annotated bibliography of Latin American Studies literature produced by research librarians at the Library of Congress.

For the print version, see:

Handbook of Latin American studies. Austin [etc.] : University of Texas Press [etc.].
Geisel Reference, Request from SRLF ; Reference, Geisel Floor2 West, Offsite (SRLF) ; F1408 .H33 ; Library Use Only, AVAILABLE

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LANIC: Latin American Network Information Center 

Administered by the University of Texas Austin, provides access to official (government), scholarly, and popular internet portals to information on Latin America for virtually every subject available.

Oxford Bibliographies: Latin American Studies 

Selected Bibliography of US Government and International Documents on Latin America and the Caribbean 

Maintained by the American Library Association's Government Document's Round Table

World Scholar: Latin America and the Caribbean 

Includes the full text of contemporary and historical documents, selected articles from newspapers and journals, maps, and statistics focusing on humanities and social sciences topics.

 Oxford Handbooks Online Licensed by UCSD 

UC San Diego has purchased all OHO subject content released through 2020, over 1000 titles spanning Archaeology, Business and Management, Classical Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Economics and Finance, History, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Physical Sciences, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology.

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

The Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS)  

The Center for US-Mexican Studies  

Institute of the Americas  

The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS)  

Although its scope is broader than Latin America, the CCIS frequently examines issues related to Latin American migration

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.