Hispanic American Studies
Why Use A Research Guide?
This guide has been developed to save time and help produce a better research
paper. It will guide you through the library research process and inform you of
the best resources for your topic. If you need assistance at any time, please
ask for help at a Reference Desk.
1. Select Your Topic
2. Identify Terminology
3. Locate Background Information
4. Focus Your Topic and Form an Issue Question
5. Organize Your Topic into Concepts
1. Finding Books Using the BYU Catalog
2. Journal and Newspaper Articles
3. Internet Resources
4. Additional Resources
5. Evaluate/Select/Cite Resources
6. Prepare Your Paper
[If you are not affiliated with BYU, you may not have full access to some
of the electronic
A. Getting Started:
- Select Your Topic
Select a broad topic of interest to you. You will refine and narrow your topic
as you go. The following lists will assist you in deciding on a beginning broad
topic. These lists are available on the Subject
Research Guides page.
- Library Research Guides - Broad subject
categories, each with a step by step guide created for that subject.
- Background Study Guides - Each guide
includes a tailored four-page worksheet using the library-research strategy.
It is essential to use the proper terms for your subject, especially as you
search electronic resources. Begin a list of terminology which is used in the
literature for your topic, adding to it as you go along. There are several good
sources to look up terminology.
- Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) (Located
at all Reference Desks).
- Thesausus of Hispanic American Periodical Index
(Level 1 Social Science Ref AI 3 .H57x 1975).
- Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors (Level 1 Social
Science Reference, or the ERIC database).
Do a brief background search using encyclopedias, general and specialized, and
other reference sources to gain a basic understanding of your topic. Look for
relevant terminology, how a subject is subdivided, and any useful bibliographies--names
of important works/scholars in the field. Names that repeatedly appear in your
articles are most likely authorities. Paying attention to their ideas will be
very helpful. As you read, be alert to questions and issues being discussed
and how you might begin to narrow your topic.
The following are some of the good sources
for background information about Hispanic American Studies:.
Other Specialized Sources will be located very
near these. Ask at the reference desks for prepared local bibliographies.
- Mexican-Americans in Comparative Perspective (E184
.M5 M514 1985).
- An Outline History of Spanish American Literature(PQ7081
- Dictionary of Mexican American History (E184
- Bibliography of Mexican American History (His.
Ref. E184 .M5 X72)
- Borderlands Sourcebook (His. Ref. F786 .X1
- Chicano Literature: a Reference Guide (PS153
- Chicano Art History (N6538 .M4 X87 1984)
Focus the Topic and
Form an Issue Question
With background gleaned from the above reference sources, you should have an
awareness of the various sub-divisions of your topic, and the issues of your
topic that are being discussed and researched. You are now prepared to narrow
the scope of your research and write an "issue question" which you can
For example: "How does Orlando Romero use nature
in his works?"
Organize Topic into
Since many research resources are computerized, prepare to do an electronic
search by, first, underlining the main or key words in your issue question.
Example: "How does Orlando Romero use nature
in his works?"
Using the following chart, place the keywords
in separate concept boxes. Add additional synonymous terms from your terminology
list within each concept box.
How to phrase a "keyword" search:
Use the Boolean operator or between similar concepts. Use and
to link different concepts, (see above).
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Some root words can be truncated with a symbol ($ in the
BYU Catalog, or * in most periodical databases) so that all endings of a
root word can be searched at once. For example, "nature", above, could be
truncated: "natur$" which would result in finding both "nature" and "natural."
For more specific search directions, watch for the "tips"
or "helps" buttons in each electronic database.
B. Finding Research Materials:
- Finding Books Using the BYU Library
Catalog.To Perform a Basic Search
- Enter the subject or author in the Search Box.
Select the search type desired: Keyword or Alphabetical
- If desired, select one library to limit your search by
using the pull-down box labeled library.
- Enter author?s last name first (omitting puncuation):
- Enter titles, omit the la, el, or
los if it is the first word: for Los Vendidos enter
- Enter subjects without dashes: American literature
Mexican American authors (NOT American literature--mexican American authors)
Select one of the seven light blue buttons indicating
the category or field(s) avaiable to search. (Keyword Anywhere, Author,
Title, Periodical Title, Series Title, Subject, Genre/Form)
To Perform an Advanced Search
- Use Keyword to find records containing the
- Use Alphabetical to get an alphabetical list of
records beginning with the first word entered.
- Enter your keyword search in the search box(es). You can:
Select keyword anywhere, author, title, periodical title,
series title, subject or genre/form from the left pull-down box.
Select AND, OR, XOR, or NOT from the right
Click on Search Catalog to execute the search.
To limit your search, scroll down and select from the pull-down
To Perform a Call No. Search
- Truncate keywords by adding a $ to the end of root words
(for multiple character truncation) or a ? (for single character wildcard).
- Link words with Boolean Operators (AND,OR, XOR
- Link words with Positional Operators (SAME, WITH, ADJ,
NEAR) SAME is the default between words.
- Type in the Call Number in the search box.
- Limit your search, if desired, by library, location, shelving
- Click on Browse Shelves to execute the search.
Journal and Newspaper Articles
The researcher uses articles published in current periodicals (magazines/journals)
to get the most current research. A variety of periodical indexes (databases)
are available on BYLINE by selecting the "Articles Indexes" tab. Note
the major subject disciplines, then select the specific discipline desired.
If you have any questions, please check at the reference desk for assistance.
The following periodical indexes are recommended for Hispanic American Studies
and are available on BYLINE on the Hispanic-American page.
- Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) Indexes 500 periodicals from and
about Latin America. Coverage from 1970 to the present. Available on-line
and in paper copy.
- Handbook of Latin American Studies Indexes books, book chapters,
articles and conference reports from and about Latin America. Coverage from
1935 to the present. Available on-line and in paper copy.
- MLA International Bibliography (ProQuest) Indexes books, book chapters, articles
and conference reports on literature and languages in general. Coverage
from 1963 to the present. Available on-line and in paper copy.
- Chicano Database (EBSCO) Indexes periodical articles about
the Latino experience in the United States. Coverage is from 1967 to the
present. Available on-line and in paper copy.
- Linguistics/Language Behavior Abstracts -- LLBA (ProQuest)Indexes and abstracts from 2,000
U.S. and foreign periodicals in language use, linguistics, and related disciplines.
Coverage from 1973 to present. Available on-line and in print form.
There are also indexes listed under the "General & Multidisciplinary"
category which may be helpful. These two, "ProQuest" and "EBSCO," have the
advantage of having many articles available in full text.
If Internet resources are needed/allowed, first use those recommended by the
subject librarian under "Selected Web Sources".
One such web site for Latin America is UT-LANIC
operated by the University of Texas Institute
of Latin American Studies.
You may also wish to use one of the many
Search engines listed under "
Search the Web" on the BYLINE menu. Go directly to the home page of Alta
Vista or Yahoo.
Remember to watch the screens for search
"tips" or "helps" or "Advanced Search" buttons which will use many of the
Boolean concepts discussed. Sometimes thousands of hits will be found, but
remember to use caution, as most will not be reliable or scholarly. As you
evaluate Internet resources, you may find clues in the URL (address) which
can alert you to the type of agency responsible for that site thus helping
you assess its credibility.
.edu or .gov (educational or government)
are usually more factual, while .org or .com (organization or
commercial) usually express more of an opinion or try to persuade the reader.
There may be additional resources which could be used in your research.
- Bibliographies: When you find good material,
pay attention to the bibliographic references listed in that item.
Loan:If our library does not have the title, you can order it on
Interlibrary Loan on Level 3. It will average 10 days but could take 3 weeks.
The cost to receive articles is $.10/page and books are sent free of charge.
Use the following criteria to evaluate your resources:
- Reliability: Is the information scholarly and
accurate? What clues are present to help you judge accuracy--footnotes,
bibliography, credits, quotations?
- Credibility: What are the author's qualifications?
Is he/she affiliated with a university or other scholarly institute?
- Perspective: Is the author objective, biased,
or trying to sway the reader?
- Timeliness: How recently was the information
Prepare Your Paper
Cite resources using the writing style manual recommended by your instructor.
The main style manuals can be found at the General Reference Desk or on the
"ereference Collection" page:
You are now ready to write your paper.
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- Chicago Format
- MLA Format
Dr. Mark L. Grover
Comments to email@example.com