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Latin American Studies: Search Strategies

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

Search Strategies

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 principals 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; Latin American Literature; Latino/a American Literature; LIterary Criticism; the Native Peoples of the Americas; Twentieth-century Political thought; War; World Music ... Search ROGER by Title: Cambridge History of to browse

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 Citation Management Tools Tab on thi sguide.

Tools for Keyword Searching


Tools for keyword Searching


Try one or two of the following strategies in the database you want to use.  Not all of them are available in every database. Different strategies will change your results and help you target the articles you need.

  Boolean Operators