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INTL 190: Breaking the Cycle: How to Build Peace and End the Drug War in Mexico: Strategies for Searching and Beginning Your Research

Beginning Your Research

These two databases (which constitute annotated bibliographies on many Latin American Subjects), are great places to start looking for secondary sources:

Handbook of Latin American Studies  

Oxford Bibliographies: Latin American Studies 
  • Licensed by UCSD
Annotated peer-reviewed bibliographies of topics spanning the Latin American studies field, alphabetically from 16th-Century New Spain to Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas.
World Scholar: Latin America and the Caribbean 
  • Licensed by UCSD
Provides access to primary and secondary resources for historical and current Latin American and Caribbean topics.

A more general source that is very helpful is: Annual Reviews

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.

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

Using Citation Management Software to capture the resources you find through your searches is also very helpful.  Check out the Citation Management Tools tab to learn about using Zotero or Endnote.

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