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Social Sciences E-100A | Graduate Proseminar (Martin)




This resource guide has been designed by the Harvard Library for students in Professor Ricky Martin's Spring 2023 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 on Zoom for a longer consultation.

Enjoy your work!

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont Library 

Contexts: Subject Bibliographies, 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.

Two Key Sources for Stand-Alone Reviews


 Annual Reviews

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.

Sociology Compass 

An online-only journal publishing original, peer-reviewed surveys of current research from across the entire discipline. Its  state-of-the-art reviews, supported by a comprehensive bibliography 

Sociology Compass can be browsed by major sections, which include: 

Child & Family | Communication & Media | Culture | Crime & Deviance | Gender & Sexuality | Organisations, Work & Economics | Political Sociology | Race & Ethnicity | Science, Technology & Health | Social Movements | Social Stratification

The Imbedded Literature Review


A literature review, even when it's not specifically called out as such, may be hiding in plain sight.  Examples:

  • The introductory chapter of a monograph (single-authored book) or essay collection will often review scholarship that has come before and influenced the present discussion in some way. 
  • A recent dissertation can be a gold mine for an extended literature review. Try our ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database.
  • A handbook or companion on your topic (or the nearest equivalent to your topic).Oxford Handbooks Online and Cambridge Companions are two famous and well-respected examples of this genre, but there are other good publishing houses  producing handbooks, too.

Sometimes, just adding the keyword handbook (or companion) to a HOLLIS search will surface one or more titles you can examine.

lightbulb iconSMART 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.  




bookmark iconSage 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.


Books and Articles Beyond HOLLIS

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. 

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.



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

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. 


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." 








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.

Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.  

Getting Past Paywalls on the Web


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.

Set up a Check Harvard Library Bookmark. It works like a browser extension that you click on when you need it. Directions are available here:

Lean Library is a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  This can sometimes seem intrusive, however.

And when all else fails, remember that you can cut and paste titles and/or authors right into HOLLIS.


Organizing Research with Zotero

Zoteroa free, open source citation management tool will take the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page to the next level. 

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero.  A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here:


In the meantime, if learning Zotero now is not a great option, we recommend you generate citations with ZoteroBib

It's more reliable than the internal HOLLIS citation generator and you don't need an account or special software to use it.  Some of its handy features are described on this page.


Subject Experts You Should Follow Up With



Susan Gilman, Tozzer Library |

Julie Fiveash, Tozzer Library  |


Michael Leach, Cabot Science Library  |


Jess Cohen-Tanugi, Lamont Library  |

Environmental Studies

Geoge Clark, Lamont Library |