CAS 100 Introduction to Central American Studies

Browsing Books

To find books in the Oviatt Library collection that are related to Central American Studies try this shortcut to browse for titles.

  1. Use this link to try out a search with keywords covering  countries in Central America and about people of Central American origin in the United States.
  2. You can bookmark the link for the search using this shortened url -- on your browser.

Article Searching

To find articles when you are "in a database" try copying and pasting the following search terms :

"central america" or Belize or "Costa Rica" or "El Salvador" or Salvadoran or Guatemala or Hondura or Nicaragua or Panama

  1. You can copy and paste  terms related to Central American Studies into the first box of your search.   Try subject specific databases related to your topic via the Find Articles by Subject directory which include GenderWatch (Women's Studies, Queer Studies), Communication and Mass Media, and Sociological Abstracts, America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, International Political Science Abstracts, and MLA (see image below). 
  2. When searching more general databases like General OneFile, Academic Search Elite, OmniOneFile, or JSTOR try searching for terms related to Central American Studies in the title of the records (see image below).


How to Use OneSearch

From the hompage of the library website you can use OneSearch to quickly look up books, articles, and media from one search. If you are unable to locate a source on your topic then try one of the specialized databases on the right hand side of this page.



Search Tips

KEYWORDS ONLY – no sentences
KEYWORDS that are NOUNS (people, place, things) are very helpful.

AND (less results and NARROWS our search)
OR (more results and Broadens our search)

chican* = results will be chicano or chicana , chicanas ,  chicanos
immigra* = immigration , immigrant

mexico revolution = glue search terms together

Topic Selection

  Choosing a Topic

1.  Brainstorm possible topic ideas

  • Consider your personal interests.
  • Engage in conversations in class or with classmates.
  • Read articles in encyclopedias and review class readings.
  • Browse recent issues of journals or magazines by searching for keywords related to CAS or CHS topics in the article databases.
  • Browse the shelves for books by subject area (here is an example of subject headings that start with Central America)  
  • Try a search in Google News for current events or topics that can help develop research questions.

2.  Review assignment requirements

  • What kind of assignment is it - 5 minute oral presentation, 10 page paper, 50 page paper?
  • How much information do you need?
  • Does it need to be recent information?
  • What types of publications do you want to read - newspaper articles, books, journal articles, diaries, trade publications?
  • What formats do you need - visual, audio, printed, electronic?
  • Is point of view an issue? Do you need opinions?
  • How much time do you have?

3.  List keyword to define your topic

  • State your research topic as a question.
  • Think about the significant terms, concepts, and keywords that describe your topic. These terms will become the key for searching for information about your subject in library catalogs, online databases, and other resources.
  • Sample keywords for research topic "What were the different experiences of women in El Salvador during the 1980s ?"
    • Guatemala or El Salvador
    • Women
    • Salvadoran Civil War
    • "Book of Missing"
    • FMLN
    • Massacres 
    • guerrilla or guerrilleros

4. Gather background information on your topic

It's hard to get started if you don't know much about your topic.  Do some general reading in things like encyclopedias (Credo)  to get an overview of the topic.  

Adapted from