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Social Studies 98

RESEARCH STARTER KITS FOR JUNIOR TUTORIALS

Social Studies 98nb: Getting the Lay of the Land

Literature reviews help you easily understand—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field. They not only track trends over time in the scholarly discussions of a topic, but also synthesize and connect related work. They cite the trailblazers and sometimes the outliers, and they even root out errors of fact or concept. Typically, they include a final section that identifies remaining questions or future directions research might take.

We recommend, as a first stop: 

Annual Reviews

Since 1932, this important series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including political sciencesociology, and anthropology.

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

   

OTHER STRATEGIES FOR LOCATING LIT REVIEWS:

  • in subject databases, like those on this guide, you can limit your search results by looking under  the "document type" or "methodology" filters. 
  • In dissertations, they commonly appear as a preliminary chapter. Try ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

 

PRO TIP: UPDATING A LIT REVIEW  

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.


                            Oxford Bibliographies Online combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia. 

Entries aim to identify some of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad topic (mass incarceration, bilingual education, outcomes of social movements and protest activities, social stratification, and so forth).

Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but its 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.

 

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.

 

Opportunity Insights

A non-partisan, non-profit organization located at Harvard University that seeks to translate insights from rigorous, scientific research to policy change by harnessing the power of “big data” using an interdisciplinary approach.

 

 

The Opportunity Atlas

The Opportunity Atlas uses anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-thirties to answer this question.

Many people think about conditions in a neighborhood based on the incomes of current residents. The Opportunity Atlas, in contrast, shows for the first time how much kids who grow up in a neighborhood earn as adults.

Using these new data, you can learn exactly where and for whom opportunity has been missing.

Scholarly Conversations Beyond JSTOR

 

Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)

The advantages of Academic Search Premier are 1) its multidisciplinarity; 2) its inclusion of very recent content; 3) its mix of scholarly, news, and magazine content.

PRO TIP: Your searching may seem more controlled than in HOLLIS and less narrowly focused than JSTOR, but that said, ASP can sometimes also seem broader than it is deep.  When that's the case, try one of the databases listed below, or scan the longer list of EBSCOhost databases that the Harvard Libraries subscribes to. 

Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest)

A core resource for Social Studies concentrators, researchers, professionals, and students in sociology, social planning/policy, and related disciplines. It includes citations and abstracts from over 1800 journals, relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews and other media.

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (ProQuest)

WPSA provides citations to and summaries of journal literature in political science and related fields, including political sociology, political theory, economics, law, and public policy. 

America: History and Life (EBSCOhost)

The premier database for deep access to scholarly books, journals, and dissertations on the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. AHL included all the leading English-language historical journals as well as some international publications.  Its companion database for world history  is Historical Abstracts.  

Pro Tips:  1) Historically-focused databases allow you to limit to scholarship about a particular time period.  You'll find that option by scrolling below the search boxes.  2) Try adding historiograph*  to a keyword search; you may pull up the history equivalent of a "literature review" that way. 

 

Special Topics

Policy Studies and Think Tanks

PAIS  (EBSCOhost) 

PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) provides summaries of publications on the full range of political, social, and public policy issues and on any topics that are or might become the subject of legislation. 

PolicyFile

A database of U.S. public policy research drawn from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities. Over 75 public policy topics are covered, from foreign policy to domestic policy. Approximately 250 new records are added weekly. and organizations are reviewed daily in order to add their latest information into the database.

One nice feature of PolicyFile is its ability to browse entities by political leaning (or to limit your results that way, once you've performed a keyword search). 

 

Think Tank Search

A custom Google Search, created by Harvard Kennedy School Librarians that allows you to search across the content of 1200 websites, chosen for their  reputation, influence upon policy-making,  and relevance to the research and teaching of KSG affiliates. 

 

Legislation and Legal Scholarship

 

ProQuest Congressional 

An essential database for identifying the work of Congress, current and historical,  in its four dimensions: legislative , oversight, investigative, and confirmatory. 

ProQuest Congressional also provides access to CRS  (Congressional Research Services) Reports, which provide overviews and issue frames on the host of concerns with which Congress is preoccupied. CRS reports distil and synthesize in a non-partisan way. 

HEIN Online

A key resource for primary and secondary legal materials, including law reviews. 

Pro Tip: This database--like HOLLIS--has specific search conventions. Be sure to look at its Search Help screen.

News Sources

CURRENT

Factiva

A news and business information database produced by the Dow Jones company, containing content from more than 200 countries (and in 28 languages, though English predominates). Material is drawn from newspapers, news sites, newswires, TV and radio transcripts.  Full-text coverage varies by title, but is generally better from 1980 forward. Factiva is the major competitor to Nexis Uni (see below) for current news access.

NOTE: Boston Globe and Boston Herald are searchable here.

Nexis Uni

A powerful news database which covers more than 3000 newspapers from around the globe, most in English (or English translation). Coverage varies by title but usually dates from the 1980s forward. Nexis Uni is also good for searching  transcripts of major TV  and radio news broadcasts (including BBC and NPR). 


THEMED

Ethnic NewsWatch

A current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives.

HISTORICAL 

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

Data: Numbers and Opinions

Opportunity Insights

A non-partisan, non-profit organization located at Harvard University that seeks to translate insights from rigorous, scientific research to policy change by harnessing the power of “big data” using an interdisciplinary approach.


The Opportunity Atlas

The Opportunity Atlas uses anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-thirties to answer this question.

Many people think about conditions in a neighborhood based on the incomes of current residents. The Opportunity Atlas, in contrast, shows for the first time how much kids who grow up in a neighborhood earn as adults.

Using these new data, you can learn exactly where and for whom opportunity has been missing.

 

Statista

A statistics portal that integrates over 60,000 diverse topics of data and facts from over 10,000 sources onto a single platform. Statista provides business customers, researchers, and the academic community with access to quantitative facts on agriculture, finance, politics, and additional areas of interest. Sources of information include market researchers, trade publications, scientific journals, and government databases. 

 

ProQuest Statistical, one of the library's subscription databases, is a  rich compilation of macro-level data, both national and international. Among the types most pertinent to SS 98nb:

  • US Federal statistical publications. 5,000 titles/year. Coverage from 1973; full text from 2004. (Also known as American Statistics Index, or ASI)

  • State government and business statistical reports. 2,200 titles/year. Coverage from 1980; full text from 2007.(Also known as Statistics Reference Index, or SRI)

 

The Pew Research Center provides independent, non-partisan opinion research about American attitudes on politics and major policy issues and studies the changing U.S. electorate by measuring long-term trends in political values and public policy priorities. It  also conducts timely and topical polling on the issues of the day.

Key topics include: 

  • Political values, partisanship and polarization
  • Elections, campaigns and political engagement
  • Views of government, elected officials and parties
  • U.S. economy
  • U.S. domestic policy issues
  • U.S. foreign policy
  • Political knowledge and interest

 

​​The General Social Survey (GSS) gathers data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes.  Hundreds of trends have been tracked since 1972. In addition, since the GSS adopted questions from earlier surveys, trends can be followed for up to 70 years.

The GSS contains a standard core of demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal questions, plus topics of special interest. Among the topics covered are civil liberties, crime and violence, intergroup tolerance, morality, national spending priorities, psychological well-being, social mobility, and stress and traumatic events.

The GSS Data Explorer allows you to select variables and extract data in SPSS or SAS to analyze trends yourself.  Or you can  search on the Key Trends page, topically arranged, for premade graphs. 

 

Roper Center | Roper iPoll

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, located at Cornell University, is one of the world’s leading archives of social science data, specializing in data from public opinion surveys.

The iPoll section of the site enables you to search 650,000 actual public opinion questions.

Since its beginning, the Roper Center has focused on surveys conducted by the news media and commercial polling firmsHowever, it also holds many academic surveys, including important historical collections from the National Opinion Research Center and Princeton University’s Office of Public Opinion Research.

​Our government documents and data librarians can help you sort through the complexities of where data sets are located (or even whether there's good data on a topic that interests you). 

   Contact them at this address: govdocs@fas.harvard.edu   

Research guides on finding and using data of various kinds at Harvard are collected here: Beginner's Guide to Locating and Using Numeric Data. 

If you're new to visualization techniques, you'll find information on types and their various argumentative strengths on this Law School Library guide: Visualization Tools

Lamont Library's Media Services department offers personalized consultations and a variety of ongoing workshops. Read more about our Visualization Support.

Tools for Locating Full-Text and Managing Your Sources

 

Google Scholar

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.  


Zotero

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.