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SPA 353 (Cabrera)

A research guide for Professor Cabrera's class, Introduction to the Study of Language: Spanish.

Some tips for getting started

1)  Generate search terms for your topic in both Spanish and English. 

2)  Remember to think about using synonyms/related terms.  For instance, if you are working on something related to language in education other words that could be used for education might be school, classroom, teaching, learning, etc..

3) Start by searching for articles in Spanish using your Spanish search terms.  You will likely get far fewer results as our databases have a strong English language focus for scholarship.  Look in the left hand column of the database for a Language menu where you can select Spanish.

4)  Now switch it over to looking for articles in English.  Make sure you undo the limit for Spanish!  You will likely find a lot more materials and may need to make your search more specific at this point to narrow things down.

5) While searching try a trick called truncation.  Truncation means cutting a word down to the stem and then adding an * (asterisk) to the end.  It tells databases to search for all forms of the word.  So typing in bilingual*  will search not only for bililngual, but also bilingualism.  If you cut it down all the way to biling*, you will also be including the Spanish word bilingue.

6) Try cross searching several databases at once!  Many of the databases below come from the same vendor-- EBSCOhost.  After you log into one, look for a link that says Choose Databases right above the search boxes.  You can use that to add other databases from the list that apply and search them all at once!

7) If you run into an article we don't have, use our ILLIad interlibrary loan system to request it!  It is a free service for students and only takes 1-2 days to get most articles.

 

How language affects the research process

  • Library tools use their own type of language for searching that uses keywords and subject headings instead of long phrases, sentences, or questions.  Using the latter type of language will often result in very few results, since the database search algorithms can't interpret it.
  • Scholars often use very specialized language.  If you can figure out what that language is for your topic, you will often have better results.
  • Some topics will have fixed terminology that makes them easier to research (e.g., "code switching").  Others have extremely variable terminology (e.g., depending on context, someone writing about language use in the business world could also use words like workplace, at work, employment, career, or job).  Topics with variable terminology are often harder to research, at least at first.

Databases

Core Database

Supplementary Databases

Databases from other disciplines that might have articles related to language and language usage.

This is not a comprehensive list of our databases!  If none of these match up with your topics well, please email me your topic and I can advise on databases for other subject areas!
If you are not finding enough, you can also try our library search tool, which cross-searches all these databases and many more.

Strategies for when you get stuck!

  • Go back to looking at websites (or books) to get some concrete examples or more specific terminology.
  • Talk to your professor about your topic.  They may be able to help you adjust your topic or come up with more concrete examples or terminology.
  • In a database, grab a couple of the closest matches you have found (make sure they are recent) and look through the bibliographies for sources that look good.  Look up the titles in the Library Search tool to see if we have access to them.
  • In a database, look at the results that are coming up for your searches.  If something catches your eye, you may be able to realign your topic a bit to match the existing scholarship.
  • Stop by the research help desk, chat with a librarian, or make an appointment with me! 

Interlibrary Loan

Spring 2020 update:  As of March 20, the ILLiad system is still operating, but please expect a longer wait for delivery of articles.  It is also likely there will be more instances in which requests are unable to be filled at all.

When searching the library's databases or OneSearch, you may find articles you want that we do not have access to.  You can get them for free through a service called interlibrary loan, and it usually only takes one or two days. 

From a database, like the MLA International Bibliography:

1.  Instead of a link to a PDF below the article, you will see a link called check availability.

2.  If we have the full text,the page that opens will provide a link under the "View It" heading. 

3.  If we don't own the full text, you can access our interlibrary loan system for articles, called ILLiad, by logging into the system using your WCU email address and password.  Look for the link on the yellow bar in the middle of the page.

4. Once you log in, you will see the link to go to ILLiad.

5. To use ILLiad for the first time, click on the link for first time users and set up an account

6. Go back to the the database window and click the link to interlibrary loan again.  Now that you are logged in, it will fill in the blanks on the request screen for you!  Hit submit and wait for an email saying your article has arrived.

 

From Library Search:

1) The default in Library search is to show articles that we DO own.  To see materials we don't own, look at the top of the left-hand column for the option "Expand Results Beyond My Library". 

2) Once you do that, you will see articles marked "No Full Text".  Click on that link, then follow the process described above for databases.

Did you know that you can get posters printed at the library?  The IMC on the lower level of Green Library has a high quality poster printer and low fees for printing.  See their page on poster printing for details, as well as lots of great tips on what to do (or not do) on your poster!

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