This post is part of my "research" series.
These are my notes from a 2022-04-22 conversation (in Spanish) with Adriana Balzarini Ingeniera Agrónoma. I met Adriana as part of the Board of Directors of the Partido de la Costa Science Club. The conversation wasn't recorded, so I've had to reconstruct some of the arguments from memory, and taken the opportunity to reformat and abridge the content. I thank her for the generous donation of so much of her time.
The Science Club ceased activities back in 2015 due to inhability to form a Board of Directors. We've managed to keep organizing voluntary participation in scientific work under the municipal government. The work we do is very fieldwork-oriented, so I don't know how much I can help you with bibliographic research.
The way we operate is as follows: our working group interfaces with research institutions such as CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, National Scientific and Technical Research Council) on behalf of the municipal government, and we offer our services for studies that need local data but would normally find it expensive -and early during the COVID-19 pandemic, outright impossible- to obtain. We then meet with the study authors to discuss goals and methodology, which then informs the fieldwork of our volunteers. Our work usually ends up credited as collaboration. The Club used to have some public presence, with school talks and a blog, but the restructuring depreoritized outreach activities.
As for the actual question of research, I rely heavily on expert opinion. I start by keyword-searching on Google/SciELO1, which nets me relevant papers, organizations (specially research institutions), and -critically- researcher contact information. I then get in touch through whichever means they have made public and ask them for details of my topic of interest. Obviously I do some reading first; showing up for an interview knowing absolutely nothing is disrespectful and a waste of the expert's time.
It may be a different experience on mathematics or the humanities, but I doubt it. Knowledge is a collaborative enterprise. If you want to participate, you need to look for the communities where that knowledge lives. Even in dead disciplines you can find people studying them from a historical perspective. You'll notice you're there when you meet people who speak the jargon. Words that you and I use everyday -such as "error"- will take on special, well-defined meanings; this is the mark of a community that's trying to make knowledge transmissible.
I haven't had much of a working relationship with the local libraries. They aren't really research libraries, they are oriented towards a wider community role. If they even have a subject catalog, I'm not familiar with it. They probably have a digital catalog of some kind, since the government has been pushing their Aguapey library management system on every public library, but I think the libraries aren't obligated to make that publicly accessible.