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SPAN 402: Nineteenth-Century Latin America: Getting Started

Some Advice from Your Friends in the Library

Please DO:

  • Start Early! Work on your project consistently each and every week, so we can answer your questions when you still have sufficient time to thoughtfully revise your work. It's likely you'll need to request materials from SUMMIT and via ILLiad, so you want to allow time for materials to arrive.  [Note that SUMMIT items have a check-out period of six weeks.]
  • Seek out a variety of sources: books, essays in books, journal articles.
  • Use a variety of search tools: Primo, multiple databases, sometimes even Google Scholar.
  • Keep careful notes on all of your sources.  If an online knowledge management tool like Zotero or RefWorks is not for you, make sure that any system that you do use is thorough.
  • Contact a librarian whenever questions arise. Quick questions can be answered via email; more in-depth questions can be handled best with an appointment.

The BEAM Framework

Research is connected to your writing. Relevant sources will address your questions and fit your purpose. BEAM is an acronym intended to help students think about the various ways we might use sources when writing a researched argument. Joseph Bizup, an English professor at Boston University, outlined the framework in a 2008 article. The idea has since been refined and adapted by many others.

Beam Model

Why should I use subject encyclopedias?

You might be wondering why a SPAN 402 student would consult subject encyclopedias.  The quick answer is that they can be excellent resources for identifying primary and secondary sources. Additionally, it can't hurt to make sure you have a good sense of how your research question fits in with other scholarly research that has been done--and the bibliographies at the end of encyclopedia articles are an efficient way to make sure you know who the scholars are who've been working on this topic.

Remember that tertiary sources are intended to fill in gaps in your knowledge or jumpstart your research; they should not be cited as scholarly secondary sources for your project.

Featured Reference Resources

Humanities Librarian

Katy Curtis's picture
Katy Curtis
Office: Collins Library 140

Related Subject Guides

Locating Subject Encyclopedias

Subject encyclopedias at Collins Library may be in print format, or, when available, in electronic format.  Print subject encyclopedias are located in call number order in the reference section on the first floor of the library. Online subject encyclopedias are bundled together into packages (see the list below). Online resources have the advantage of being continually updated.