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TEC 412O/612O Contemporary Latinx Issue—Exploration and Praxis : Getting Started

Types of Information

 

Popular and Scholarly Information Sources

The table below shows characteristics commonly associated with scholarly or popular sources.

Both scholarly and popular sources can be appropriate for your research purposes, depending on your research question and expectations for your assignment by your professor. 

  Popular Scholarly

 

Types

  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Websites
  • Trade Publications
  • Scholarly journals
  • Academic books
  • Dissertations/theses
Availability
  • Readily available to the public OR
  • Available behind a paywall
  • Available through libraries and online databases
  • Usually behind a paywall
Authorship
  • Journalists
  • Freelance writers
  • Researchers
  • Scholars with subject expertise
Purpose/Audience
  • Inform, entertain, persuade general public
  • Share original research with other researchers/scholars
  • Expand knowledge in discipline
  • Written using using vocabulary and language from the discipline
Sources/Documentation
  • No formal citations or sources cited indirectly
  • All sources cited
  • Extensive reference lists or bibliographies
Editorial Process
  • Reviewed by single editor
  • Blind peer-review by multiple experts or refereed by scholars in the same field
Structure
  • Mix of short and in-depth articles on wide variety of subjects
  • Lengthy articles with subsections within articles (literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion)
Publisher
  • Popular presses; or unknown.
  • Academic or scholarly presses
Timeframe
  • Current events are well covered.
  • Material can be published on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis.
  • The writing, editorial and publication process takes a long time.
  • Coverage of current events lag by about one or two years.

 

Other Types of Information

Grey Literature refers to materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels. Common grey literature publication types include reports (annual, research, technical, project, etc.), working papers, government documents, white papers and evaluations.This kind of literature can be key for emerging research and alternative perspectives.

Finding grey literature

  • NGO Search
    NGO Search is a Google Custom Search that searches across hundreds non-governmental organization (NGO) websites. NGO Search is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) and the Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA). This is a spreadsheet of NGOs included in the project
  • Policy Commons 
    This database brings together grey literature -- reports, working papers, policy briefs, data sources, and media -- from NGOS, think tanks, and research centers around the world. The site requires that you set-up a free account in order to access reports.
  • Google
    Use Google's site limits to only search a government or institution's site or top-level domain, for instance use site:https://www.pewresearch.org to limit your search to reports from The Pew Research Center. This technique paired with keywords in Google is a quick way to locate grey literature. Example search: site:https://www.pewresearch.org Immigration 

Government Publications 
Government publications are a subset of grey literature, and can be important sources for state, federal, and international perspectives on official government proceedings of all kinds. 

What’s the difference?

  1. Keyword Searching: you can use any words or phrase, and results will include these words somewhere in the record (the title, table of contents, summary, etc.)
  • Keywords use natural language.
  • Different people (including authors) use different words to describe the same topic Keywords are not controlled.
  • Keyword searches typically search an entire database record, including full-text articles.
  • Use quotation marks to search a specific term.
  1. Subject Searching: these are authorized search terms, and the catalog only searches the subject field of each record.
  • All cataloged and indexed materials have assigned headings called “subjects”
  • Subject headings describe the “aboutness” or topic of the work, bring together all of the works on the same topic, despite differences in text.
  • Subject headings are “controlled”- they are carefully selected from existing lists called “controlled vocabularies”
  • Subject searches only search within the assigned subject field within a database record

Brainstorming keywords for your research question

Your search process for information resources will invariably use a combination of both strategies.

Database Search Terms

The main Library of Congress subject heading that refers to U.S. Latinos is Hispanic Americans.

The Hispanic Americans heading can be further subdivided by topical sub-headings, such as:

  • Hispanic Americans --Religion
  • Hispanic Americans --Social Conditions 
  • Hispanic Americans --Politics and government
  • Hispanic Americans --Ethnic identity
  • Hispanic Americans --Economic conditions
  • Hispanic Americans --Cultural assimilation

Use geographic sub-headings to help find books about Latinos in a specific region, such as:

  • Hispanic Americans --Illinois --Chicago
  • Hispanic Americans --Michigan
  • Hispanic Americans --Ohio --Cleveland

You can also approach specific Latino ethnic groups, such as:

  • Mexican Americans
  • Cuban Americans
  • Puerto Ricans

Or even Latin Americans living in the United States, such as:

  • Latin Americans --United States
  • Cubans --United States
  • Mexicans --United States

For additional subject headings please consult this guide prepared by the Anthropology and Sociology Section for the Association of College Research Libraries. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and only represents possible starting points.