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SPA 320: Latinos in USA: The Essay

Research Methods

Research Methods 
  • Start early!  The surest way to do sloppy research is to rush yourself. Give yourself plenty of time.
  • Be organized!  Scan the title page of your sources, print the citation of your articles/keep the interlibrary loan request sheet, and/or keep your bibliography in one place (use Zotero)
  • Read actively.  Take notes according to source and write them down by page number.  Writing down your ideas helps you remember important points and may help you formulate your paper as you do research.
  • Paraphrase.  Is there a long quote you like? Extract the main idea and put it into your own words, citing your source. Add why you think it's an important point.  This gives you ownership of an idea while pointing to its original writer.
  • Write from your perspective.
  • Cite as you write.  Make notes in-text as you write. Because you're organized, you can fill in the details (page number, etc.) later.
  • Use the Writing Center!  People are available to help you at all steps in the writing process.

MLA Citation Style


Zotero is a free program for saving citations, taking notes, and formatting reference lists. Once you download Zotero and install a browser plugin, you can use it to save webpages, articles in databases, and book references from the library catalog, library databases, Amazon, or Google Books. Your collected references can be synced from one computer to another and can be accessed online through any web browser. Sort your references into project folders, tag them, add annotations and, when you want to create a reference, simply drag them into a document and choose a format. See the Zotero Quick Start Guide to get started, try our very brief general guide to Zotero, or see Jason Puckett's guide for more tips and strategies.

A note for Zotero users - you can set up Zotero to recognize content in our databases by clicking on Edit > preferences > Advanced, and adding under Resolver this URL:

An optional plug-in for Word (or Open Office) is available. Open Zotero and install the plugin found under Tools - Options - Cite. The plugins will then be found in Word under the Add-Ins tab (PC) or under the scripts menu (Mac).

Want more information? Contact a reference librarian (folke @

NOTE: Though Zotero originally was developed as a Firefox plugin, it now must be downloaded as a standalone program with a Firefox connector installed as an add-on.

Scanning Images

Scan images from books at 300dpi.  There are several scanners in the library and accross campus. Grab larger images from online. Do NOT stretch them out - they will get blurry! Make sure to record the source of your image as you scan or save it.  If you are having any issues with scanners or don't know how to use them, this Help Page from GTS will be useful.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License