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REL 273: Religion and Politics in Latin America

Spring 2011
Doing Research

With so many information sources available online and in print, simply finding information usually isn't the issue. The true research problem lies in finding quality information sources that are appropriate for your topic. Take time to think critically about your research during this entire semester. Have you utilized the best sources for your topic? Do you have a grasp of the literature in your field? Have you thoroughly explored the nuances of your topic and supporting sources? This approach will not only be useful in this class, it will be invaluable as you head into the workforce or further graduate study. As always, give yourself enough time to do your research and have fun with your topics and the places they're taking you!

Where to Start?

Research is a circuitous path, but there are general tips you should remember: Use reference books to gain an overview of your topics. Search the library's catalog for books on your topic. Explore this class page for suggestions on article databases. Along the way, always be assessing your progress - do you have all the information you need to form an argument for your paper? Have you narrowed your topic enough to fit the scope of the paper? Do you have a sense of the major scholars in your field (this comes from a detailed search of your topic)? Do you have enough evidence to support your thesis or do you need more information? Keep these things in mind as you do your research and you'll find yourself with an excellent bibliography at the end.

Professor: Thia Cooper
Librarian: Barbara Fister

Table of Contents:

Reference Books
Reference books are an indispensable part of research. They give overviews of topics, which helps you understand your topic as well as to narrow it. The overviews also usually give you ideas for search terms to use in catalogs and databases. Often reference books will have suggestions for further readings, which are excellent sources for your paper. Reference books are shelved on the west side of the library on the main floor.
  • Cambridge History of Latin America
    Cambridge University Press 1984-95
    Long, scholarly topical essays arranged in chronological order covering Latin American history from the late 15th century to the 1980s.
    • Location(s): Ref F1410 .C1834 1984 (11 vols.)
  • Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, and Society in the United States
    Danbury: Grolier 2005
    Covers Latinos in the United states in over 650 essays that tackle topics from baseball to Zorro, significant places, groups of people, event, and more. The fourth volume includes significant primary source documents.
    • Location(s): Ref E 184 .S75 E587 2005
  • Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Cultures
    New York: Routledge 2000
    Includes entries on cultural topics such as architecture, cinema, food and drink, the media, music, politics, and religion, as well as biographical sketches of important cultural figures.
    • Location(s): Ref F1406.E515 2000 (3 vols.)
  • Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture
    New York: Scribner's 1996 2nd edition
    The 5,000+ articles in this resource give a remarkably complete overview of current knowledge about the region. Entries are arranged alphabetically by country, by topic (such as slavery, art, Asians in Latin America), and biographically. Articles are written by experts and are followed by selective bibliographies.
    • Location(s): Ref F 1406 .E53 2008
  • Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics
    Westport, CT: Oryx 2002
    Provides country profiles that sketch out political history, followed by bibliographies of print and Web resources.
    • Location(s): Ref F 1410 .E56 2002
  • Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
    Washington, D.C.: CQ 2007 2nd ed. edition
    Offers overview articles on a wide variety of topics including places, people, faith traditions, and controversial issues such as creationism.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 65 .P7 E53 2007
  • Encyclopedia of Protestantism
    New York: Routledge 2004
    Covers creeds, cultural and social issues, important people and institutions, theology, and the diverse traditions and faith groups that make up protestantism, both historically and in contemporary times.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 4811.3 .E53 2004
  • Encyclopedia of Religion
    Detroit: Macmillan Reference 2005 2nd ed. edition
    Covers religions from around the world and through history as well as people and ideas related to religion. The articles are written by experts in their fields and include excellent bibliographies. This new edition includes hundreds of new articles, thoroughly revised coverage of all topics in religion, and a handful of "visual essays" that illustrate visual culture as a significant aspect of religion.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 31 .E46 2005
  • Encyclopedia of Religion and War
    New York: Routledge 2004
    Offers concise essays about the intersection of faith and warfare, covering regions of the world, conflicts, concepts, and faiths.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 80.3 .E53 2004
  • Human Rights Watch World Report
    Human Rights Watch
    An annual publication that surveys the world's human rights record. Each volume offers regional and country surveys summarizing the events of the previous year.
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia
    Detroit: Gale 2002
    This recently-revised encyclopedia covers many general topics, but is particularly thorough in its coverage of Catholic doctrine, history, and traditional practice. Includes many illustrations.
    • Location(s): Ref BX 841 .N44 2002
  • Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices
    Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio 2002
    Offers short articles on countries and on religious denominations. 4 vols.
    • Location(s): Ref BL 80.3 .R45 2002
Finding Books
  • MnPALS Plus
    The online catalog to the library at Gustavus Adolphus College. Choose "All Libraries" in the search options to search other MnPALS libraries (such as Minnesota State schools) and request books through Interlibrary Loan. View our MnPALS Plus tutorial.
  • WorldCat
    Includes over 40 million bibliographic records representing cataloged resources in 400 languages owned by libraries around the world. Materials date back to the 11th century. Owning libraries can be identified for books, journals, archival resources and electronic resources. Access to WorldCat is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM); the database can also be searched through its free web interface, at
    1000 CE-present; updated daily
Finding Articles
If you have an article citation and can't find the full text in a database, use the Journal Locator to see if Gustavus owns a print copy of the article OR if it is available through another database. Be sure to search the Journal Locator with the title of the journal, not the article title.
  • Academic Search Premier
    The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier indexes nearly 8,050 publications and provides full text for nearly 4,600, including more than 3,500 peer-reviewed journals. Coverage also includes many newspapers and popular magazines and spans virtually every area of academic study since 1975. Updated daily. Access is provided by the Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM). View our Academic Search Premier tutorial.
    1975-present; updated daily
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
    A multidisciplinary index covering the journal literature of the arts and humanities. This index fully covers 1,144 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals, and also includes some individually selected, relevant items from over 6,800 major science and social science journals. Some of the disciplines covered include archaeology, linguistics, art, literature, music, philosophy, dance, history, religion and theater. Offers a way of searching who has cited a particular article or book. You can search this database simultaneously with Social Sciences Citation Index, below, by choosing both options from the start screen.
    1997-present; updated weekly
  • ATLA Religion Database & ATLA Serials
    A comprehensive research database in the fields of religion and theology produced by the American Theological Library Association. Includes bibliographic citations and abstracts to journal articles from over 1,500 titles, citations to essays and book chapters, book reviews, and Doctor of Ministry projects. Many journal articles and book reviews are also available in full text.
    1949-present; updated quarterly
  • CIAO
    Columbia International Affairs Online contains references to working papers, conference proceedings, journals, books, policy briefs, economic indicators, and more, from 1991 to the present. The database focuses on theory and research in international affairs.
    1991-present; updated monthly
  • HLAS Online
    The Handbook of Latin American Studies is an online annotated bibliography on Latin America edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress. Coverage alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. Over 5,000 new references are added each year.
  • Public Affairs Index
    Covers global contemporary public policy issues, ranging from public health, the environment, housing, human and civil rights, to international conflict and natural disasters. Draws on scholarly publications, conference papers, government documents and reference works.
    1972-present; updated weekly
  • SAGE Premier
    Search the full text to over 500 scholarly journals published by SAGE in a range of disciplines, including many social sciences titles. Many journals include full backfiles - back to 1960s or earlier. To search articles by discipline, click on the "Browse" tab, then click on the "Articles by Discipline" tab.
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Knowledge)
    A multidisciplinary index with searchable author abstracts covering the journal literature of the social sciences, including anthropology, history, law, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, political science, public health, social work, sociology, urban studies, and women's studies. SSCI indexes more than 1,725 journals spanning 50 disciplines. In addition, it is possible to retrieve a list of works that have cited a specific author or specific work. May be searched simultaneously with Arts & Humanities Citation Index and/or Science Citation Index Expanded through the Web of Science interface.
    1997-present; updated weekly
Interlibrary Loan
Using Interlibrary Loan allows you to get books and articles from other libraries. It is a profoundly useful research tool and fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Use the following tips to learn how to use Interlibrary Loan.
  • General Information
    • What are my barcode and password?
      You will always have to enter your barcode and password to request items. Your barcode is the 14 digit number on your student ID. Your password is your last name.
    • What if my barcode doesn't work?
      If you get a message saying that you're not authorized to use ILL, there's probably a problem with your patron record. Often it is simply that you got a new ID card at some point and we don't have it in our system. You may also have a fine that is blocking your card. At any rate, contact the Circulation Desk (x7557) or the Reference Desk (x7567).
    • How long does it take?
      It usually takes 1 week for a book to be shipped to our library. Articles will be emailed to you within a few days if the article is available from the lending library in electronic format. If the article isn't available electronically, a photocopy will be mailed to your campus PO box within a week. *Please note that times are approximate. Always give yourself plenty of time to request materials from other libraries.
    • How do I know when the items have arrived?
      Articles available electronically will be emailed to you. For all other items, you will be emailed a pick up notice from the library. You can get your items at the Circulation Desk.
    • Where do I return the items once I'm done?
      Return books to the Circulation Desk. You do not need to return emailed or photocopied articles.
  • Ordering books and articles from other libraries
    • MnPALS
      Order books from other libraries in our Minnesota consortium via MnPALS (the library's catalog). In the Advanced Search screen, set the Library to Search menu to All MnPALS Libraries. Perform your search. When you find a book you want, click on the title to view the full record. In this screen, click ILL request. Log in with your barcode and password. Once you log in, you will be taken back to the book record. Click ILL request again to fill out the complete ILL request.
    • Most other library catalogs and databases
      From almost every other library catalog (like WorldCat) or database (like ATLA), look for the yellow FindIt! button in the item's record. Click the FindIt! button, which will take you to a separate screen that is searching to see if the item is available through another database or in our library. If the Interlibrary Loan option appears, you will have to request the item from another library. Click Go next to Interlibrary Loan. You'll be taken to the online request form.
    The Latin American Information Center, a directory of selected sites compiled at the University of Texas Latin American Studies program.
Other Library Resources
We've got several additional resources through the library that you might find useful for your research. Check out these webpages for more information.
  • Evaluating Web Sites
    Use our guide to help determine if a web site would be an appropriate and reliable source for your research.
  • Chat with a Reference Librarian

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