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ANTH (HIST/PLANT) 129N: Chocolate Worlds (Mont Alto)

Use this for help with your final project, including identifying materials to use, helpful keywords, and searching the Libraries site.

Basic Information


For this assignment, you will be choosing a topic related to chocolate and developing a presentation for your class.

If you choose a topic that involves research, make sure you do research - find a variety of sources, written by credible authors, including some from the Libraries.

Common topics that would involve a research element might include (but are not limited to):

  • health benefits;
  • history, production;
  • workers' treatment;
  • colonial or indigenous perspectives;
  • trade/business of chocolate


Need Help?

If you're feeling stuck, feel free to reach out to me (contact information to the left) or use our Ask A Librarian service to get in touch with librarians from across the University.

Searching Strategies

How to Start Searching Anywhere
Bonus: The suggestions here work in most search engines - including the Libraries and Google

  1. Think about your topic. What question are you trying to answer? What are the essential (key) words? Use those for your first search and keep it simple
    • For example, if your question is, "What is the sustainability of conventionally-produced chocolate?", try something like: chocolate AND sustainability
    • Don't type in whole questions or sentences
  2. Look at your results. They're probably not perfect, so what needs to change? You're not going to break anything - play around!
    • Do you have too many?
      • Try adding another keyword, e.g., chocolate AND sustainability AND Colombia
    • Not enough?
      • Maybe you need to broaden your keywords, or provide an additional option, e.g., chocolate AND (sustainability OR sustainable)
    • Are they just not quite "right"? What about it doesn't work?
      • Consider swapping out a keyword for something else:
        • chocolate AND production instead of chocolate AND sustainability
        • Mesoamerica AND (chocolate OR cacao) instead of Mesoamerica AND chocolate
        • chocolate AND (Mesoamerica OR indigenous) instead of chocolate history
  3. Search Tips/tricks to use:
    • AND will narrow your search results (dark AND milk) chocolate; OR will expand your results (dark OR milk) chocolate
    • Quotation marks ("  ") link words, e.g., "dark chocolate" AND "health benefits"
    • Parentheses ((  )) combine keywords, e.g., chocolate AND (pay OR treatment)

Searching the Libraries

If your topic is one where you will be doing research, be prepared to do some of it through the Libraries. You can find great, reliable information through Google, but you can add some variety by also using Libraries resources.

When you're just starting out, you may find the process confusing, but it will get easier!

  1. Starting from the homepage, you'll type in your keywords (see above) and then be taken to the results screen showing four different boxes.
    • Journal Articles is for scholarly articles - things written by experts for other experts.
      • These can get quite technical and detailed, but they're not all like that - worth a look, for sure.
    • Books and Media is what you would expect: books, videos, music, etc.
      • Important: You don't have to read the whole book! If something looks interesting, click the blue I WANT IT button to have it sent to Mont Alto. You can then flip through it and see if there are any chapters that are useful.
    • Our Website is for information from the Libraries website. It can usually be ignored.
    • News and Magazine Articles is what it sounds like - items from newspapers and magazines.
      • These are more often written by reporters/journalists for a more general audience so are likely to be less technical or dense than a scholarly article.
  2. Click on "See all...results" (bottom of each box) to view the complete list and decide if there's anything you'd like to read through.
  3. Keep track of everything you're going to use so that you can cite it appropriately!

Suggested Resources

Suggested Starting Points

Aside from typing keywords into the search bar on the homepage, take a look through some of these and see if they're helpful!

The following are lists of books that are available through the Penn State Libraries. Use the filters on the left as needed to look for specific locations or dates, and adjust the keywords to narrow down the results.

These are not comprehensive lists and additional searching may be necessary!