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Social Sciences E-100A: Proseminar (Martin)

INTRODUCTION TO GRADUATE STUDIES AND SCHOLARLY WRITING IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Welcome

 

This resource guide has been designed by the Harvard Library for students in Professor Ricky Martin's Spring 2020 graduate proseminar.

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find easy access to the scholarly and research literature on your projects.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

If questions about finding, accessing, or managing information arise at any point in your project, librarians are your lifelines!  

Please feel free to contact me. We'll triage by email, or we can set up a time to meet in person (if you're local) or on Zoom (if you're not) for a longer consultation.

Enjoy your work!

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont Library 

Contexts, Literature Reviews, and Methods

Oxford Bibliographies Online

OBOs combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia  in order to help you identify some of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad social, political, cultural or interdisciplinary  topic. They're regularly updated to remain current.

Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but overabundance. OBO entries can help you solve the problem of knowing what or who to read or which voices in the conversation you should give some fuller attention to.

 

Since 1932,the Annual Reviews series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including political sciencesociology, anthropology, and public health.

A search of Annual Reviews can therefore help you easily identify—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field.  The comprehensive critical review not only summarizes a topic but also roots out errors of fact or concept and provokes discussion that will lead to new research activity. 

The advanced search screen  offers excellent search tips, including ways select certain AR titles or limit to particular disciplines and narrow by date.


SMART SEARCHING TIP: If you find a review that seems on point, but rather dated (10 years or so), try searching for it (or one of the authorities it cites) in Google Scholar.  Then follow the “cited by” links. You  may discover something more recent there.  

 

 

Web of Science

Don't be put off by the name of this resource: the social sciences (and humanities) are also well-represented in this multidisciplinary database of over 20,000 journals. Results display by default in reverse chronological order, but you can resort them by relevance if that better suits your purposes.  


TIP:  In the question-making or "discovery" stage of research, Web of Science can be a a powerful tool to uncovering literature reviews. 

A keyword topic search in Web of Science, much like HOLLIS, will return results that you can then sift through using a variety of left-side filter categories.  

Under document type, look for the review option. Selecting it will help you quickly uncover essays that sum up and synthesize research trends and breakthroughs and to trace citation trails (the  "web" of interconnected scholarly conversations).

 

 

Sage Research Methods Online

The ultimate methods library, it has more than 1000 books, reference works, journal articles, case studies, and instructional videos by world-leading academics from across the social sciences. It also boasts the largest collection of qualitative methods books available online from any scholarly publisher. 


Users can browse content by topic, discipline, or format type (reference works, book chapters, definitions, etc.).  SRM offers several research tools as well: a methods map;  user- created readng lists; a project planner' and advice on choosing statistical tests.

 

Serendipity and Strategy: Ways of Searching in HOLLIS

 

LIBRARY CATALOG OR EVERYTHING: WHAT'S WHAT?

 

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.

When you search "everything" you're searching both of these databases together, at once. For better or for worse, "everything" is our system default. It lets you take a sweeping look across a large information landscape simply by entering keywords. It then offers you options for adjusting your perspective (and result numbers) through limiters and other means.

The broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, but if you find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns, try one of these options: 

 

Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.


Limit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 


Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).

 

Your "default" approach to searching Harvard's catalog, HOLLIS, is probably similar to your Google approach: enter some words, see what comes up, then try again or improve from there. 

But BROWSING in the catalog is an under-appreciated research strategy, especially when you're trying to discover your interest. It helps you see how writing ABOUT an author, an idea, an event, etc. has been broken down and categorized. So instead of getting the typical list of titles, you see results in terms of sub-topics. Inspiration may lie there!


HOW DO YOU BROWSE? 

Open HOLLIS. Click on the  link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT. 

Examples of subject terms in action (click to see subdivisions of each topic):

____________

TRANSFERABLE KNOWLEDGE TIP:  Words Always Matter

Browsing subject headings lists can teach you a lot about searching, because they rely on standardized language and standard ways of qualifying or further describing a give subject. 

For example, these additional words may relate to a subject's geography (united states, massachusetts, canada, etc). Sometimes, a specific marker of the type of information is also included in a subject heading, like statistics; legislation; handbooks; case studies; etc.).

 BEST PRACTICES FOR SEARCHING HOLLIS:


  • Use QUOTATION MARKS for phrases "united states"   ||  "affirmative action"

  • Connect search terms and phrases explicitly with AND/OR and do so with capital letters:  

anthropology AND methods

  • Enclose synonyms or interchangeable concepts in PARENTHESES

 (law OR legal) AND ("freedom of religion" OR "religious freedom")

  • Truncate words with an ASTERISK to pick up alternatives: 

politic* will also retrieve  politics, political, politician (etc.)

  • FILTER your results via right side limit categories. They'll help you sharpen up and whittle down your search results by date, language, resource type, to peer-reviewed articles, and more.
  • Take advantage of special system features: always sign in.
  • STORE the items you want to track down or read later via the    icon; SAVE a good search so you can remember what worked.

 

 

When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.


SOME OPTIONS TO CONSIDER

1.  WorldCatthis is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other  library collections that are in your vicinity.  Search for the title and then enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.


With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements.  However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!


2. Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area.  Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example). 


3. Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so).  ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the service. 


4.  Borrow Direct Plus: currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member library  of this consortium can obtain a card that allows access to the collections and privileges similar to those at Harvard libraries.  


5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there.

Books and Articles Beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier

This database can be a good next step once you've explored content available in HOLLIS,  particularly if you feel overwhelmed -- or sometimes, underwhelmed -- by the journal and article search results you've uncovered there. 

While much of what ASP searches is from scholarly sources, generous amounts also come from newspaper and general interest magazines. Like HOLLIS, ASP casts a wide net, so you might  see your topic treated from a number of disciplinary angles or through a variety of theoretical lenses. That said, given what ASP includes in its database, result sets can sometimes have more breadth than scholarly depth. 


JSTOR

This databases overs core  scholarly journals in 75 fields.  Some of its content is open access and easily discoverable on the web; some is made available only because of your Harvard affiliation and the library's subscription to JSTOR; the most recent issues of journals may not even appear in a JSTOR search, however, if they are behind the database's 1-5 year "moving wall." 


Social Sciences Premium Collection 

A core resource for researchers, professionals, and students working in the interdisciplinary social sciences. In addition to citations, abstracts, and (often) full-text of 2400 journal titles, this database will also identify relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews.

SMART SEARCHING TIP:

Given its purpose, the SSPC, much like HOLLIS, can return result sets that seem enormous. But you have options to control what you see:

  • After running a search, you can always limit your results via left-side filters: publication date, source type, language, etc.  You can even drill deeper into the results in a particular database that SSPC includes.
  • Before running a search, you can make some decisions about what you want to see up front.  These categories appear right below the search boxes:

screenshot of pre-search limit options by source, document type, and language

 

Google Scholar 

Most of the research databases you use search for information differently than Google Scholar.  Most base their results lists on "metadata" -- the descriptive information about items that identifies features  in certain fields (title, author,  table of contents, subject terms, etc.). 

While Google Scholar's algorithms account for some of this same information, it adds full-text into the mix when it retrieves, sorts, and ranks search results.

What does this mean for you? Sometimes, better relevance, especially on the first page or so.  And sometimes, given that it searches full-text, Google Scholar might reveal more quickly than our databases where a hard-to-find nugget of scholarly information is hidden away in a published article.

So have it your repertoire: just be sure you maximize its utility to you by adjusting your Google Scholar settings, as described in the section below

Google Scholar can also be a good place to do a "cited reference" search in order to trace scholarly reaction to/engagement a particular article forward in time. 


 

DOCUMENT DELIVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO YOU:

Scan and Deliver

When an article you need is available in a print journal at Harvard but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.

We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.

interlibrary Loan

If Harvard doesn't own the journal, or doesn't provide you online access, an interlibrary loan is your easiest solution.  Place your order by logging into ILL account from the HOLLIS main search page (look to the lower left). Interlibrary Loan is a free service for Harvard affiliates.


Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want a single chapter of a Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  

 

When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.


SOME OPTIONS TO CONSIDER

1.  WorldCat: this is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other  library collections that are in your vicinity.  Search for the title and then enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.


With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements.  However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!


2. Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area.  Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example). 


3. Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN.  Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so).  ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the serv


4.  Borrow Direct Plus: currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member library  of this consortium can obtain a card that allows access to the collections and privileges similar to those at Harvard libraries.  


5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there.

Tools for Locating Full-Text and Managing Your Sources

 

One simple change can turn Google Scholar into what's effectively a Harvard database -- with links to the full-text of articles that the library can provide. Here's what to do:  Look to the left of the GS screen and click on the "hamburger" (); then click on .  Look for "Library Links."  Then type Harvard University into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.  


If you've used NoodleTools or EasyBib in a past academic life -- or even if you've figured out the the pin and cite options in HOLLIS -- Zotero will take you to a whole new level. 

This free, open source citation management tool makes the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page stress-free and nearly effortless.

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero. A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: http://guides.library.harvard.edu/zotero.