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Trans-Border Institute: Developing a Search Strategy

Welcome to the LibGuide for the Trans-Border Institute (TBI). Here you will find databases and other resources (print and online) to help you with your research on Mexican and Latin American politics, history, economics, and culture.

Search Strategies

Keyword Searching:
Basic keyword searches are a fine place to start. 

  • Use single words expressing your concept
  • Make sure you express all concepts related to your interest within each search
  • Identify synonyms for each term
  • Put search terms with more than one word in quotes (ex. “native american”)
  • Use truncation symbols (usually * or $) help search words with multiple endings (singular, plural, etc…  Such as pollut* = pollution, pollute, polluted, polluting.)
  • Also, keep a list of useful keywords and search terms to use again when searching in other databases

 
How to Find Specific Kinds of Articles:
No method of searching for specific kinds of articles is fool-proof.  These tips, however, will be of great use:

  • For finding literature reviews:  Entering search terms such as literature review, overview, systematic review, or overview of the literature, all help to identify articles that are literature reviews.
  • For finding empirical articles:  Entering keywords such as “study” or “survey” help to retrieve an article that’s empirical, or evidence-based.  Words such as “methods” or “methodology” (qualitative or quantitative), participants, and “results” or “findings”, also help to identify an empirical article.  Review the article’s abstract as well as the title when seeking these words.
  • For finding primary research:  Using previous studies found in review articles is one way of locating primary research articles for one’s own literature review.  NOTE:  Also find new primary research on your topic in order to update the scholarly research in the field.

 
Maximizing returns from your search results:

  1. Check to see if keywords are provided within article title pages that might inform your successive searches. 
  2. Identify leading journals and search the recent issues for the latest information in your area of interest; use references from those articles to gather literature reviews, empirical articles, and primary research sources.
  3. When you start seeing a specific author’s name popping up frequently, you’ve found an expert; make sure you include the work of experts in your field to ensure that your literature review is scholarly and timely!

 
Subject Heading Searches:
Check the subject headings within specific articles and use them to refine successive searches for more focused results

 
Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed:
Many databases give you the option of checking a box if you wish to retrieve only scholarly / peer-reviewed articles.  I suggest that you absolutely do this, AFTER you’ve done an initial search to cull all potential useful keywords and subject headings from all the articles in the system. 

Copley Library

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Alma Ortega, PhD
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Contact:
University of San Diego - Copley Library
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492


When chat is off feel free to email me your research and library related questions:
alma@sandiego.edu or we can connect via Zoom:
https://sandiego.zoom.us/my/almaortegaphd. You can also call and leave a message:
619.260.2259