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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.

A first step to searching for materials on your topic is to talk to experts who can suggest beginning sources to you: your professors and anyone else that they recommend.

There are three useful principles to remember and apply when searching any kind of electronic search tool (a library catalog, a digital library, a database, the internet, etc.)

1. A keyword search in any resource will point you to great initial resources, but you will not find all of the resources you need this way. 

2. It is really important that you follow up on your initial searching by:

a) looking at the complete records to identify subject headings or descriptors that you can use to search further

b) carrying out seed research: go to the initial sources and check the footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies to find further resources.  It is also helpful to walk around the shelves in the library where you find initial print sources, as other related sources will be shelved in this area.

3. Use reference sources to start your research as well.  There are great electronic and print reference tools (dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, and more) that can help you clarify and narrow down your topic and identify great starting resources.

A few excellent online reference packages include:

  • Sage Reference Online
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Wiley Online Library
  • Oxford Handbooks Online
  • Oxford Research Encyclopediasthe link here is to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, but once you are in, you can click on the radio button "oxford research encyclopedias" to see all of the specific encyclopedias UCSD subscribes to in this suite 
  • Oxford Bibliographies: the link here is to the Oxford Bibliography of Latin American Studies, but once you are in, you can click on the "Browse By Subject" Box to the upper left to see all of the specific Bibliographies UCSD subscribes to in this suite
  • Another excellent collection of Reference works are The Cambridge History of ... titles, including but not limited to:The Cambridge History of Latin America (which is available in its entirety online); Latin American Literature; Latino/a American Literature; LIterary Criticism; the Native Peoples of the Americas; Twentieth-century Political thought; War; World Music ... Search UC Library Search by Title: Cambridge History of to browse

For places to search for books, click on the "Finding Books" tab.

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

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).

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.

Other kinds of Review Sources are also useful.  See the Review Sources Research guide, which points to strategies and places to search for Book Reviews; Film Dance and Theater Reviews; and Research Literature (which points to Annual Reviews and Dissertations as well as particular databases). For example, book reviews can help you:

  • Find out what others have said about a book
  • Identify controversies about the book
  • Find out how the book relates to other works
  • Find out what's new in your field of interest
  • Easily identify recommended books for future reading

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

Click on More for different ways to use

more...

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 

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.

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.)

A helpful place to identify and learn more about different tools to use in keyword searching (including boolean operators, truncation, and subject headings) can be found on the Search Strategies tab of the MCWP 50 & MCWP 125 Research Guide.  See also the table below.

In identifying what qualifies as a "scholarly source," the following UCSD Library Guides may also be helpful:

Using Citation Software to capture the resources you find through your searches is also very helpful.  Check out the "How to Cite" Research Guide is an indispensable guide to using citation management systems as well as conforming to particular citation styles.

Tools for more sophisticated searches (in addition to the tools presented in the box below)

Additional tools to do more sophisticated searching include using:

quotation marks for exact phrases: "Monetary Policy"

parentheses to separate clauses: ("Monetary Policy" OR "exchange rate*") Brazil histor* -- which allows you to search for:

"Monetary Policy" OR "Exchange Rate/s"

AND Brazil

AND Histor/ical/iography/iographical

 

 

 

Search Strategies

  Boolean Operators   

Infographic that explains Boolean Operators and gives examples of their uses.

Truncation is a search technique that broadens your search to include various word endings. To truncate your search terms, replace the word ending with an asterik *.

politic* gets results for politics, politician, and political

 

Limits provide database-specific recommendations for narrowing a search. Applying limits will filter out results that don’t meet your search requirements. This will save you time because you won’t need to look through pages of search results that don’t include the information that you need Each database offers different limits. Be sure to check them out to see how they can help you with your search.

For example: In the database, Historical Abstracts, you can filter your search results for peer review, publication date, document type, language, subject, etc.

The image below illustrates how applying limits will help you to narrow
your search results.

For every limit applied the results get smaller

 

It's important to know that databases use subject headings to organize their articles. When you know the right subject headings for your topic, you can search more efficiently. Starting out on a new topic, you won't know the subject terminology. A simple way to find them is to start with a keyword search. When you find an article title that meets your needs, look for the subject headings assigned to that article. In most cases, those subject headings are hyperlinked and will take you to a list of articles with the same subject heading.

linked subject terms are within the articles details

abstracts will highlight key terms used to find the article

Scholarly articles often have extensive bibliographies, also called reference lists or works cited pages. Bibliographies include references to articles, books, and other relevant literature that were published before the article. Some databases provide links to the cited references so that you can look at those articles as well, which might provide more articles for you to use in your paper.

Cited References can help you find articles that are older than the one you are reading.

An Example:

bibliography articles were used to write an article and are older

Look at the example to the left. If you found a relevant article from 2003, you could look at the articles in the bibliography to see where your article got the information used to support their main points. These older articles can also be useful to your research, especially if you need to write a literature review.

You can use a similar method to find newer articles, by looking at the articles who have cited your 2003 article in their bibliographies. To find out more about this method, see the tab for Times Cited references.

 

 

Some databases, like Web of Science, include times cited references. Think of these as the opposite of a bibliography. Where bibliographies include references that are older than the article, times cited references are newer than the article.

Times Cited references can help you find articles that are more recent than the one you are reading.

An Example:

time cited articles are newer than the published article

Look at the example to the left. Let’s say your professor doesn’t let you include references in your paper that are older than 2005. You are finding articles about your topic, but they are all too old. Even the best article about your topic was published in 2003.

Using times cited references, you could see which articles have cited the 2003 article. Chances are you will find one published a more recently that you could use for your paper.

 

 

When you find an article that you think will be a good to use, you can take advantage of “related articles” to find similar articles. Databases have different formulas for determining how an article is “related,” but it usually is a combination of same keywords and descriptors.

You can usually find a list of related articles on the results screen of the database.

great article connected to related articles

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 many collections that CRL has helped to develop.  In recent years, CRL has begun acquiring and developing resources in electronic format.  Many of these resources are included in UC Library Search.  If UC Library Search 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.