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SPAN 8300: Spanish Applied Linguistics: Home

Library resources that support Dr. Toth's graduate seminar, Spanish 8300, and any other course or assignment in which students might need to research Spanish linguistics

Assignment Overview

Students in this course are required to make a research proposal in two parts:

1) Review the scholarly literature to identify an unresolved problem in classroom second language acquisition; and

2) Propose a research project that would address this unresolved problem or question.

Your investigation will require careful examination of the peer-reviewed literature of applied linguistics.

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This research guide was designed to help students effectively and comprehensively review the scholarly literature on second language acquisition. Use it to...

  • search the Diamond catalog for monographs and other printed sources;
  • select appropriate disciplinary databases;
  • access important journals online;
  • employ "subject headings" to target highly relevant sources;
  • consult published bibliographies in applied linguistics; and
  • help manage your citations and works cited lists with RefWorks.

Choose a Research Topic / Review the Literature

There are several ways to approach choosing a research topic. The following techniques have been shown to help students move from broad topic to manageable research question:

  • Brainstorm: Identify synonyms for major concepts, e.g. "Applied Linguistics" = "Language Services". This will help with mindmapping (see below), and will also come in handy when searching abstracting and indexing databases for relevant journal articles.
  • Personal Interest: If feasible, concentrate your efforts on aspects of second language acquisition that most interest you. Personal interest increases motivation, which in turn often predicts success.
  • Disciplinary Themes: Read about the career of a well-known linguist such as Labov; follow the trajectory of an important theory or school of thought; and/or concentrate on developments during a particular period of time, e.g. 1960s.

Additional library-centric research techniques for reviewing the literature and/or further refining your research topic:

  • Citation (or Footnote) Chasing: A popular research technique in which the bibliographies of works already located in a literature search (or assigned by your instructor) are examined for additional sources containing further information. Books (monographs), journal articles, and dissertations typically all contain bibliographies. This technique is favored by many scholars but it is not the only or even most comprehensive method for reviewing the literature or choosing/narrowing your research topic.
  • Consult the Reference (or Tertiary) Literature: Tertiary sources are essentially reference works; they list, index, summarize, or in some other way facilitate access to both primary and secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources in linguistics include the encyclopedias listed in the Reference Shelf tab of this guide and the abstracting and indexing databases listed in the Find Articles tab.

    • Abstracting and Indexing Databases (subset of Reference): Abstracting and indexing databases are tertiary sources that provide bibliographic citations and/or abstracts of the secondary literature of a discipline, e.g. LLBA for linguistics. Such databases employ controlled vocabulary to help researchers understand the nature of the content indexed and to pinpoint relevant material. Click on the Find Articles and Journals tab for links to important abstracting and indexing databases in second language acquisition

    • Published Bibliographies (subset of Reference): A bibliography is a systematic list of works written on a given subject, or that share one or more common characteristics of language, form, period, place of publication, author, and so on. A bibliography can be comprehensive, encompassing for example the entire discipline of linguistics, or selective, covering only the scholarly literature on a narrow aspect of second language acquisition. Click on the Reference Shelf tab for a link to an important online L2 bibliography. The Find Books tab includes instructions for finding published bibliographies in Diamond and other library catalogs.

  • Browse the Secondary Literature: Browse the latest issue of an important peer-reviewed journal in applied linguistics. While this method is much less efficient than searching abstracting and indexing databases, it can of course be used to discover important debates and concepts in the field. Find applied linguistics journals in the Find Articles and Journals tab of this guide.


Substantive Source: ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science.

Guide Author

Rebecca Lloyd's picture
Rebecca Lloyd
Paley Library
Room 319