HAPI days

For many years, I used to be an indexer for the Hispanic American Periodicals Index, known by its felicitous acronym, HAPI.   Indexes of course are the primary finding tools you want to use when you’re looking for journal articles or magazine articles on your topic.  Indexers are the people who page through journals and research materials of interest and describe relevant contents, using pre-defined categories and vocabulary.  Produced by UCLA’s Latin American Center, and staffed by volunteer indexers from around the world, HAPI is first place you and your students should look when looking for research articles on Latin American and US Latin@ topics that fall within the social sciences and the humanities.  There is also selective coverage of agricultural and some science subject areas.  According to their website, the index includes “over 275,000 journal article citations” from 1977 to the present and from over 600 international research journals.

The technology world is changing so fast.  I think IT workers and librarians are some of the most qualified professionals to note how quickly everything now changes.  When I first began my work as an indexer, HAPI was still in book format only – a big, cheery bright orange of a book.  When the index went online, they retained their trademark orange and tweaked the name to become HAPI Online.

  HAPI is primarily a Latin American-focused index, which means that most contents deal with Mexico, Central America, Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, and South America, including Portuguese-speaking Brazil.  Articles in HAPI come from a wide range of respected research journals published around the world that have a Latin American (or US Latin@) focus.  HAPI is also an excellent tool for finding research articles about Latin American indigenous peoples, and Indian cultures and traditions throughout the region.  During my tenure with HAPI, I worked with articles published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and even Dutch.  Much of the work focused on paging through newly released journals on my assigned list, and filling out the indexing forms to indicate author, title of article, name of journal, volume, issue, page numbers, any illustrations, and then assign subject headings working from a lengthy published list of approved subject headings.

Subject headings – called “descriptors” in some indexes – are extremely important in online indexes like HAPI that do not provide full-text articles within the index itself.   When an index does include full-text, it’s easy to search any terms and find at least some results.  That’s because the system is searching all full-text AND citations, looking for your search terms.   Serious researchers tend to understand the power of defined subject heading searches.  They allow you really quickly to discover what the index has on your specific topic, and you don’t have to wonder whether you missed anything.

But what about the Library’s Quick Search?  Doesn’t that also search for articles?  Yes, it does – but the background of Quick Search is that it hooks up with many but not all of the Library’s subscription databases, like HAPI.  Take a look at the list of indexes & databases from which Quick Search pulls its articles.  Do you see HAPI listed there?  I didn’t think so.  Simply put, Quick Search is configured to work with indexes that align well with its own design.  HAPI, and other indexes developed by academic research centers or certain publishers, do not align well with Quick Search and thus their unique contents are not accessed or searched when you search using Quick Search.  This means that you will definitely want to use HAPI whenever you need to make sure that your search on Latin American or Latin@ issues is comprehensive and current.

But that doesn’t mean Quick Search will not have relevant Latin American/Latin@ articles.  Other indexes that work well with Quick Search certainly do have some Latin American/Latin@-focused content.  For example, the MLA International Bibliography index will certainly include literary criticism and similar research articles on Latin American / Latin@ authors and their works.

Quick Search vs. HAPI:  So, what if we do a test drive of Quick Search vs. HAPI?  We’ll choose a random topic or two and see what we find in terms of research (peer-reviewed) journal articles.

Random topic #1:  Literary criticism and Julio Cortázar

Quick Search quickly finds 107 “research articles”, with Quick Search’s menus set to find “Articles” (1st drop down menu) and set to find my terms “anywhere” in the record.  (When I do the same search but set the 3rd drop-down menu to find my words “in subject”, Quick Search finds only 1 article.  And when I do the original search again moments later, it retrieved only 102 research articles.  Quick Search is dynamic, which means results may vary from search to search.)   Most of the articles I found seem to come from journals that are in English, and not Latin American in focus, such as the women’s studies journal Signs; the library science journal Collection Management, Studies in Short Fiction, and so on.

Julio Cortazar & gatito

On the 2nd page of my results, a few Latin American-focused journals begin to show up, including Explicacion de textos literarios; Latin American Literary Review, and Variaciones Borges.  Many of the articles, however, do not seem to be truly focused on Cortazar.  Since we’re searching full-text articles in Quick Search, it’s likely many of the articles may mention his name in passing within the text yet not truly focus on literary criticism on any of Cortázar’s works.  Of the first 20 results, 16 of the articles were in English, and only 4 in Spanish.  When I search only the words criticism AND Julio Cortázar, with the menus set to find “Articles” and my words “in subject,” and set to show peer-reviewed articles only, I find 26 articles.  Of them, 24 are in English and only 2 are in Spanish and Latin American-focused research journals.

HAPI – since this index uses defined subject heading vocabulary, I searched only the words criticism and cortázar.  (With a little experimentation, I quickly see that the HAPI index does not use “literary criticism” as a subject phrase. So I simplify, and drop the word literary, figuring Cortázar and criticism will probably be unique enough in this index.) Turns out I’m right! This search strategy quickly finds 736 research articles.  Because we are not searching full-text in HAPI – just the citations and coded subject headings – there is a much stronger likelihood that the majority of these articles are indeed about Cortázar and criticism of his specific works.  All of the journals have a strong focus on Latin American research, since that’s the pre-requisite for inclusion in the HAPI index.  Of the first 20 results, 14 of the articles were in Spanish; 1 in Portuguese, 1 in Italian, and the remaining 4 were in English. Nice!

Random topic #2:  Rock en español 

Quick Search – finds 12 “research articles” on the whole phrase, Rock en español, when set to find “Articles” (1st drop-down menu) and filtered to show “research articles” only.   (When I do the same search but set the 3rd drop-down menu to find my words “in subject”, Quick Search finds no results at all.)    Of the 12 results found earlier (finding my words “anywhere”), all are in English.  A number of them appear to be in popular or trade magazines, such as Publishers Weekly and Latin Trade, despite Quick Search’s filter to show “research articles” only and their claim that these are peer-reviewed journals.   Once again, a number of the the articles appear NOT to be focused on Rock en español, which means the phrase must show up within the full-text.  One article I found, from a publication called Community Development, focuses on the Latin@ population of Perry, Iowa.  Where does Rock en español come in?  Here it is, from the full-text article:

  • “Perry’s Viva Latino festival takes place in mid-September and aims to celebrate Latin American culture through music and food. It is organized by Hispanics United for Perry, an informal network of the emerging Latino leadership in town. An impressive array of vendors (especially for a small town like Perry) attends the event, selling tacos and burritos from Mexico, tamales from Guatemala and pupusas from El Salvador. Bands from throughout the region play both traditional Mexican music and more contemporary Rock En Espanol. Unfortunately, this opportunity to showcase Latino culture in Perry is relegated to the background, because the venue of the festival has been a dilapidated park rather than the recently redeveloped central square of downtown Perry which is next to the Carnegie Library and Hotel Pattee.”
    (Trabalzi, Ferro,  & Sandoval, Gerardo.  “The Exotic Other: Latinos & the remaking of Latino identity in Perry, Iowa,” Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Jan-March, 2010, Vol.41(1), p.76(16).
Interesting, but not focused on our topic at all.

HAPI – finds 3 research articles on the whole phrase, Rock en español, which is not an official subject heading in HAPI.  A search on rock AND music AND español finds 4 research articles.  Journals include Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, Latin American Music Review, and Americas.  All 4 articles are in English.  Two of these 4 articles were also found by Quick Search.

Café Tacvba canta “Chica banda”, cortesía de YouTube

Side note:  One of my fun achievements while at HAPI was the establishment of Café Tacvba as a recognized subject heading!  I also successfully advocated for the addition of Centro Journal from the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos  to be added to list of indexed journals.

Random topic #3: Mexican Americans and education

Quick Search – finds 142 results when set to find “Articles” (1st drop-down menu) and find my words “in subject” area (3rd drop-down menu), and filtered to show “research articles” only.  Despite these settings and filters, irrelevant articles still pop up.  For example, “Racial & ethnic socialization in later generations of a Mexican American family” pops up because one of its subject headings is “Generation gap – educational aspects.”   Another article on “Community based violence,” an article on spousal abuse, shows up because of a subject heading called “Women-education.”

HAPI – finds 153 research articles on the terms Mexican Americans and education.  Articles come from well-known & widely respected Latin@-focused journals such as Journal of Latinos and Education; Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences; Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy; Latino Studies, and more.  The articles are all focused on highly relevant topics such as higher education, K-12 education, educational attainment of immigrant children, and so on.  Looks like all the first 20 results on this topic are in English.

Random topic #4:  Indians of Colombia

Quick Search – set to search Indians AND Colombia with 1st drop-down menu set to Articles and 3rd drop-down menu set to find my words “in subject,” and filtered to show only “Peer-reviewed articles,”  Quick Search finds 19 articles, 1 of which is listed twice in the results.  13 of the unique articles are in English, with a few – such as an article on the Garifuna diaspora in New York City and Honduras – that seem not to be on our topic at all.  Turns out that article popped up not due to subject headings (odd, since the search was set to look only in the subject areas!) but due to a misspelling in the full-text that refers to “…pre-Colombian [sic] civilization in the Americas”.   Most of the articles retrieved are in English, with a small handful in Spanish.

  HAPI – finds 34 research articles, many with a strong focus on contemporary issues including displacement by the petroleum industry; internal migration and displacement due to national violence and instability, biodiversity and ecological concerns, and other topics.  Other articles focus on traditions, specific cultures, and histories. Of the 34 articles,  23 are in Spanish, 10 are in English, one in French.

Results?  Well, I’d say that searchers content on finding/using something/anything, maybe Quick Search is okay.  But if your Latin American/Latin@ research really matters, and especially if you’re looking for research articles in Spanish, you’ll want and need to use HAPI.

Interlibrary Loan – shout out to my good colleagues in the Interlibrary Loan / ILL office.  It’s true we will not own every journal indexed in HAPI.  Few if any libraries across the nation do.   Just use our fabulous ILL services and you should have your article delivered to you – most likely via email – within a few days.

Finding HAPI – So, how do you find HAPI to recommend it to students & ISU colleagues?  Go to the eLibrary’s Article Indexes and Databases list, and you’ll find it listed there by name.  Give HAPI a whirl, and enjoy!!