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PL SC 456: Latin American Politics

The Assignments

There are 3 library related assignments due in Lessons 3, 4, and 5. The descriptions for each assignment are listed on this page. You will submit your work in Canvas to be assessed; they are NOT submitted through the course guide. These assignments are worth 6% of your overall grade (2% for each assignment).

At the conclusion of the 3 library assignments, we expect that you will be able to:

  • evaluate information
  • know which information sources are right for you for this assignment
  • access information sources, including both electronic and physical sources
  • find the full-text from a reference in a bibliography
  • use a citation generator to create APSA citations as required for this course
  • identify important sources to use for your country paper and Voicethread
  • index important sources of data that will enhance the quality of your academic work.

You will work through these goals over the course of three weeks. We will identify with each assignment which goal you will be working on and give suggestions for how you know you have mastered this goal. 

If you have any questions about the assignments please ask for clarification as soon as possible so I can provide assistance.

Assignment Lesson 3 -- (2% of Final Grade)

Lesson Goals: 

  • Find reliable and relevant information for your topic 
  • Understand and explain what LionSearch is
  • Conduct a successful search in LionSearch


When you are searching for information, there is a significant difference in the quality and types of resources you will find. It is extremely difficult to know if you are searching with the right terms or if the results you are getting are the most relevant results to you. This first piece of the library assignment will develop your skill in evaluating information. 

For this piece of the library assignment, you will need to watch the video below on evaluating information, review the table that shows the quality of information from different search engines, and, most importantly, conduct your own search in LionSearch, analyze your results, and plan next steps. 

Now that you have learned a little bit more about evaluating information and how to use LionSearch, it is your turn to put what you have learned in action!  For this piece of the library assignment, you will conduct your own search in LionSearch, take a screenshot of the results that you get, and write a reflective piece after this screenshot. 

Search in Lionsearch for a topic relevant to your assigned country for this class assignment. Some ideas for keywords are the country you are searching, and a topic related to that country. Make sure to use some of the tricks described in the LionSearch video and remember that searching is a continuous process that can always be refined to produce relevant results. LionSearch helps you with the "description" aspect of your paper. It provides a nice overview of the big picture of what you are researching. Databases help you to gather resources on the "procedural" or detailed aspects about what you are researching. 

As a reminder, you will be uploading and submitting all of your work for the library assignment to Canvas, but using this page as a guide to complete the assignment.

To successfully complete this step, you must first search in LionSearch using keywords relevant to your country and take a screenshot of this search result. Paste this in a Word or Google Document or save it as an image. Then, you can upload your image AND answer the questions below in the Lesson 3 library assignment.

1. Did you feel that the results generated from your search in LionSearch produced information that you could use in this course? Why or why not? 

2. What is the process that you went through to determine if these results were relevant to you? What did you look at? What did you consider? Use the CRAAP test PDF and the evaluating information video supplied in this section to analyze your process.

3. How would you save and obtain a full-text version of a search result that you think would be relevant to you in this course? Explain the steps of the process.

4. After a search in LionSearch, what are some next steps you could take to expand your search and gather more resources for your topic? Review the LionSearch tutorial if you are unsure of what you could do next. Consider the keywords you used and how else they could be used. 

5. Did you find this information to be more relevant to you than a Google result of your topic? Why or why not? What are some advantages to searching through LionSearch?

Submit your work in the Lesson 3 module in Canvas.

Assignment Lesson 4 -- 2% of Final Grade

Lesson goals:

  • Access information sources, including both electronic and physical sources
  • Find the full-text of an article or book from a reference in a bibliography
  • Use a citation generator to create APSA citations as required for this course; evaluate your citations against the APSA manual for accuracy

In this lesson, you will work with a bibliography from the article below to find and access the full text of materials cited by the authors. You will also work with the Get It! function to access materials across databases, and Inter Library Loan to request materials not available at Penn State. 

After locating your resources, you will need to cite them properly using APSA style. A brief overview of citation is found in the videos below. For additional help with citations and APSA style, see the Citing Your Sources page of this guide.

Review the article and videos below. Use the bibliography of the article to locate one book and one journal article or book chapter and use LionSearch, the e-jounals tab, or the CAT to locate the materials through the Libraries. Use Worldwide Political Sciences Abstracts or another subject database to find one additional journal article not cited in the provided bibliography. Transpose the citations into proper APSA format and submit your citations in the Lesson 4 library assignment in Canvas.

Use the bibliography of this chapter to select your book and article or book chapter, a direct link is available below:

Ocampo, Jose A, and Jaime Ros. 2011. “Shifting Paradigms in Latin America's Economic Development.” In Oxford Handbook of Latin American Economics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. essay. (November 20, 2016)

To successfully complete this step, you must submit THREE (3) properly formatted APSA citations. Two citations MUST come from the bibliography of the provided Ocampo article: one for a book and one for a book chapter or journal article. The third citation must come from another library resource, like the Worldwide Political Science Abstracts database. 

Review the video below for an overview of how to determine a source type from the bibliography in Ocampo and Ros article and how to locate the full text of the source using the University Libraries resources.

Review this video for an overview of using Get It! to access additional library resources.

Submit your work in the Lesson 4 library assignment in Canvas.

Assignment Lesson 5 -- 2% of Final Grade

In Lesson 5 library assignment, you will be introduced to some useful data resources you can use for your integrated paper and Voice Thread assignments. These are listed on the course guide under Statistics and Data Sources.

Lesson goals:

  • To recognize the importance of data definitions in choosing appropriate measures to bolster an argument.
  • To identify variables that can be used to provide a statistical picture of your country.
  • To learn how to generate a statistical table from World Development Indicators.

To successfully complete this step, provide the image of your WDI table, and answer all questions below.

  1. Review the video on Extracting Data from World Development Indicators (WDI)

    Extracting Data from World Development Indicators (video 8 minutes)
  2. Using WDI, construct a table for your country using at least 3 of the following variables (series) over a 30 year time period:
    • Variables: Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Unemployment, Poverty, GINI index. Note that many of these variables have more than one measure in WDI.  
    • Explain what each of the variables measures and why you chose that data point. (hint: read the data definitions) 
    • Looking at the table, in what areas has your country made gains. Where has it lost ground?
    • Now construct the same table for the Aggregate "Latin America and the Caribbean". How does your country compare to the region overall? Describe patterns, similarities, differences, etc. 
  3.  Now look at the Human Development Report for your country and write a brief description of how your country compares and contrasts with other countries in the region. A link to the Human Development Reports is available on the course guide under statistics and data sources. You do not need to extract data. Go to the country reports and write some commentary on what it says about your country compared to others in the region.

Submit your work in the Lesson 5 library assignment in Canvas.