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Latin American & Iberian Studies Subject Guide: Selecting a Topic

Tips to Develop a Research Question for Latin American and Iberan Studies Assignments

Things to consider when searching for Latin American and Iberian Studies topics:

Because Latin American and Iberian Studies is an inter- and multidisciplinary field that focuses in a particular region, the Americas (comprised of part of North America (U.S. and Mexico), South America, Central America, and the Caribbean) and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal and its old colonies in the Americas and Asia), searching for articles require that you plan in advance your search strategy.


  • Determine which region, country, or city you want to focus your research: It is not the same to search for Latin America as a region than to search for a specific country like Argentina. Likewise, you will get different results if you search for Spain vs. searching for Madrid or Barcelona.
  • Focus on regions (Latin America/South America/Central America/Caribbean/Iberian Peninsula) to study phenomena that affect the region, e.g. globalization; corruption, neoliberal policies, human rights
  • Focus on one country or two countries when you want to understand how a phenomenon affects that country or if you want to compare how the phenomena compare between countries
  • Develop a research question from the subject area that you want to use to understand the region or country you selected, e.g. Political Sciences; Human Rights; Women's Studies, History
  • Create a list of synonyms on your topic: You can use your syllabus or textbook to find some preliminaries keywords. Pay attention to what phrases scholars used to describe the topic you are interested in. Research terminology change through time. Use those terms when searching any of our multidisciplinary or subject-specific databases, or you can search directly into journals that specialize in Latin American and Iberian Studies
Be aware that current topics (less than two years old) will have less academic, scholarly articles than older topics. If you want to find the most recent information about your topic, especially if it is connected with a real event such as social protests, natural and man-made disasters, human rights violations, etc. check any of our newspapers' databases.


If you are new to Latin American and Iberian Studies, I recommend checking encyclopedias and other reference sources to acquire some background information to help develop your research question. If you are studying a particular country or racial, indigenous, or ethnic group, you should look for books on specific topics, e.g. Macao, Brazil, Aymara, Mayan, etc. Also, check our Newspapers' Databases to learn more about current topics! If you need help, contact me!

Here are some recommended titles:

For additional resources visit:

Useful Tool to Develop your Topic

Concept mapping, is a way to visualize a topic possible dimension. It is a helpful tool to narrow down a very broad topic and develop keywords that you will use to search for articles on your topic. Watch the video below to learn how to use concept mapping to develop your research question and to brainstorm  keywords that you can use when searching for articles and books in databases


Watch this video about Concept Mapping to become a Research Pro!

Useful Handouts

Below are some useful links and handouts that can help you develop your topic. Feel free to download and print the handouts in this page. Use them to develop keywords/search terms or to learn the best way to search databases to find articles and books for your research. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

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