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ALS 3520-01 Latinx: Cultures on the Move (Rincon) Fall 2023



Before doing any research, it is important to know what words you will use to search for books and articles.  Choosing the right words and search strategies can make all the difference, and it's important to remember that research is an exploratory process.  It is rare to find exactly what you are looking for on the very first try. It is a process that usually requires multiple searches using multiple keywords or subject terms. 

Keywords, also called search terms, are words you enter into a database or search engine to find relevant sources on your topic. The keywords represent the core concepts of your research question or topic. It may take multiple tries to find the keywords that bring you to relevant sources.

Keywords ("any field" or "select a field") will search titles, subjects, tables of contents, and descriptions. 

Subject terms are standardized and will give you better, more specific results, and will only search subject.  To find subject terms for books, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings.  These will also give you narrower and broader terms.  Some databases have a thesaurus or index that provide subject terms.


To get ideas for additional search terms, try the following:

  • Identify the main concepts of your topic
  • Brainstorm synonyms, larger concepts, and narrower concepts
  • Spell out abbreviations
  • Check out background sources such as encyclopedias for additional terms
  • Look at the list of subject terms when you locate an article using the library's databases
  • Look through online and print subject encyclopedias to identify relevant terms, issues, and research