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Spanish & Portuguese

A research guide providing access to selected research resources in Spanish and Portuguese.

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Librarian for Spanish & Portuguese

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Elizabeth V. Hernandez

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Tips for Starting Research

The research process can be daunting. Where do you start? Research is an iterative process - research questions may evolve as you dive into the scholarly literature; if your project involves collecting data, your literature review may take different shapes as you determine prominent themes. Here are a few tips and strategies to get started.

  • Brainstorm your topic: what sub-topics are you interested in? What are some keywords/phrases useful to search this topic?
  • Decide what kind of information you're looking for. Different types of sources will offer different perspectives, and you might need to search in different places to discover these different types sources.
    • Books can offer broad overviews or historical context
    • Scholarly articles can offer empirical evidence or more focus on a specific intervention or population
    • Popular newspapers such as New York Times can offer societal context
  • Create an outline of your topic. You may need different types of sources for different parts of your project (e.g. an encyclopedia for your Introduction; scholarship for your literature review) and you might need to combine different search terms for different sections of your project.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches for scholarly literature in a simple, familiar way. You can search across many disciplines and sources at once to find articles, books, theses, court opinions, and content from academic publishers, professional societies, some academic web sites, and more. See the Google Scholar inclusion guidelines for more about what’s in Google Scholar.

Efficiency Strategies

When you find a promising resource, try the following strategies to find additional material:

  • In books, use the Table of Contents to determine if one or two chapters might be useful. You don't have to use the whole book in your project.
  • Browse the References list at the end of a chapter or article to find additional sources.
  • Copy/paste the article title into Google Scholar and use the "Cited by" feature at the bottom of each citation to find more recent material.
  • Always read the Abstract to determine if an article might be useful in your research