Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

HST 212: National Latin America

Course Guide for HST 212L National Latin America

Basic Search Tips

Library databases do not work in the same way that Google does. To begin your search through library databases, you will have to break your topic down into KEYWORDS. Let's use the following example:

Example Topic/Research Question: How does US Intervention after the election of Salvador Allende as President in 1970 affect the Chilean Coup of 1973?

From here, you can select a few keywords to get started:

Keywords: U.S Intervention, Chile, Coup

When possible, you can also use synonyms to expand your search. As you develop your research, you can find additional keywords or synonyms in the title or abstract of your sources. 

Most library databases have search tools built in. Try some of these:

Content Type: Limit your search to journals, book chapters, research reports, etc.

Date: Limit your search to sources published between specific years. 

Peer Reviewed:  Limit your search to scholarly journal articles.

Search tools are typically located on the left and right of your search results under "refine results". You can also look for an "advanced search" page to find these tools.

It is important to evaluate the sources you find before you begin including them in your paper. You can use the following criteria for evaluating your sources:

  • Authority - Who wrote it?
  • Objectivity - Any possible biases?
  • Quality - How well is it written?
  • Coverage - Is it relevant and corroborate other resources?
  • Currency - Is it current?
  • Relevance - Does it match your research needs?

Watch the video below to learn about the different types of articles:

Advanced Search Tips

Use the operator AND to find only sources that mention both keywords.

Chile AND U.S Intervention

This search will bring back fewer results that searching either keyword on its own.





Use the OR operator to expand your search with additional keywords.

U.S Imperialism OR U.S Intervention

This will find sources that include either word, so you'll see more results than by searching for just one keyword.

Use the “QUOTES” strategy to search for several words in a phrase.

"Chilean Coup"

This will bring back results that only use that exact phrase.