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HIST 067: South American "Dirty Wars" and US Involvement (SC)

History 067 - Digging Through the National Security Archive: South American "Dirty Wars" and the United States Involvement (Diego Armus) Fall 2018

How to actually find relevant sources

1. Start with a simple keyword search. Then skim through search results slowly, looking for possible search leads in your results.

For example, let's say you search for "Operation Condor" in Historical Abstracts or America, History and Life. You find a few relevant articles, and if you look closely you'll see that most of these articles have also been assigned the subject "Operacion Condor" by the indexers who create the database - include this subject term in your next search.



2. You'll find more relevant articles if you learn how to correctly combine your search terms in databases.

Let's compare three different searches in the same database (Historical Abstracts):

The top search (#3) gives you a few more results. This search includes both the keyword you started with - "Operation Condor" - and the subject term you found in the first set of search results - "Operacion Condor."

This is how to do search #3 - note the drop-down menu in the picture. Instead of leaving the default AND in place, change it to OR - this will let you search for articles that mention either search term.


3. If you can't find enough results matching your exact topic (e.g. Operation Condor), broaden your scope by identifying related subjects and combining them strategically.

How?  Paying attention to your initial set of search results can be helpful - take another look at the subjects listed for those articles.

Thematic subjects that could be useful-


• STATE-sponsored terrorism

• ANTI-communist movements

Geographic subjects that could be useful (particularly if combined using AND and OR)-

• Uruguay

• Paraguay

• Argentina

• Latin America


How to combine search terms effectively

This search will give you articles that match at least one of the geographic terms and one of the thematic terms:

( "uruguay" OR "paraguay" OR "argentina" OR "chile" OR "latin america" ) AND ( "ANTI-communist movements" OR "STATE-sponsored terrorism" )

View the search results here.

More Resources for Scholarly Articles