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Spanish Courses & Research: SP 317

Search Strategies and Evaluation Techniques for your Assignment

Search Strategy  
Understand your topic   Use encyclopedia definitions, notes from class, or your own acquired knowledge to set up a framework for understanding the scope and aspects of the topic. An understanding should give you keywords and key ideas to look for. It should help your narrow.
Choose the appropriate source type for continuing Is your topic historical? The appropriate source type to move on to is probably a book, so you can read in-depth analysis, coverage, and gathering of statistics. Is your topic also a current issue? Then some specific study research articles may give you an understanding of the different issues as you move on in your research.
Choose the appropriate source types to round out your research   Most topics will then benefit from your research into sources such as personal interviews in documentaries or news articles (if the topic is current) in newsmagazines.
Be wary of relying too much on research articles   Research articles focus on one specific idea for a study--their treatment of the topic may be too narrow to be that useful to your understanding.

PATS for Websites

PATS for Appropriateness


Does the author of the site want to objectively inform you or subtly/not-so-subtly persuade you?


If it is an activist site, obviously they’ll want to persuade you to their cause, so the question then is do they do it with good supportive evidence? Are the informative sections also supported?


Does the author (or the site’s/organization’s owners or board of directors) have credentials, such as a PhD, journalism experience, or real-life experience?


What kind of credibility should the authors of the site have for your particular information need? It won’t just be scholarly.


Is there a date listed, and is it current?


Sometimes, currency is less important; here, it is very important.


Does the site just generally cover how they could partner with you/how to remedy a problem, or does it specifically describe these things?


Usually, you need general or specific information at different times in your research. Decide what is appropriate.

As we discussed in class, your topic may benefit from the addition of other types of sources to round out your research.

These could include websites of organizations, documentaries of personal issues, interviews, etc.

Follow my example for using the web from in class.

For documentaries, search our catalog and limit to DVD, or search our streaming video database AVON (linked below).

Finding your Film

Films you watched in class:

  • The films you watched in class are all on reserve for your class (ask at the reference desk) except for El silencio de Neto and Juan de los muertos.
  • You can check them out to watch if you missed the class they were shown.
  • Do you know your film's title? Great, search for it in the Searching Squirrel and locate it on the DVD shelves (2nd floor)

Finding your film:

  • If you want to browse the titles, walk to the DVD shelves and look for the green (or Portuguese) label on the spine.
  • Otherwise, search OneSearch like this:

To Show all Latin America Cinema:

  • Type in this key phrase
    • Cinemas of Latin America
    • Limit the results to DVDs only (will be updated to reflect new system).


Searching for Books in Vogel Library

As you search for books on your film or topic in the Searching Squirrel (search box on library homepage), note that you may need to widen your keywords because the catalog doesn't search inside the book--only the title and sometimes the chapter titles.

WHY USE BOOKS? If you have a historical topic, such as Argentina's Dirty War and the disappeared, a book will set you on the right path more quickly than a specific research article.

It is easy to search for books generally about Latin American cinema. (It is helpful here to know the language of the catalog--"Motion Pictures" is a subject term used for any book about a film). Otherwise, simply search for your topic and don't worry about the cinema part.

Second Solution: Search WorldCat (see below) to find if other libraries have a book all about your film. Order it through Interlibrary Loan (free).

Articles on the Films

Several databases will have both entertainment reviews and scholarly articles on films. You can see all of these on the Research in Film Studies guide.

Books on Reserve

A few of the best overview sources on Latin American Cinema will be on reserve during the term of the class (when the class is not offered, the materials will be in their regular locations listed in the catalog).

These are easy to find by asking for them at the service desk (2nd floor). They do have a shorter check-out period, but you can ask for me to negotiate longer.