Formats That Help You Anchor and Orient

HANDBOOKS, COMPANIONS, AND INTRODUCTIONS

How they help: 

Handbooks (sometimes also known as "companions") exist across the disciplinary universe to pull together significant syntheses, appraisals of trends, and often, "consensus thinking" around a topic.  Like a good subject bibliography (but in essay, not annotation form), handbooks can help you understand big pictures and the state of debate. 

Pro-tip for finding them: 

Just try adding the word handbook  (or companion) to your keyword search in HOLLIS. 

Some well-known handbook series:

 

LITERATURE REVIEWS

Annual Reviews

A recommended starting point, ARs are the best-known of source of stand-alone literature reviews for social science, science, and interdisciplinary science.  

How they help:

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.

Other ways to locate literature reviews:

  • in a social science database:  after a search,  filter either by document type or methodology.
  • in a history database: use the term historiography (rather than  "literature review").
  • embedded in a (fairly) recent dissertation: literature reviews are a typical feature, often a chapter in their own right.  Try ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global
  • in the introduction to a book-length study. 

Pro-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 that way.  

 

Subject Bibliographies 

Oxford Bibliographies Online

How OBOs help: Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of sources, but their abundance.  Because they're created and regularly monitored by experts, OBOs 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. And in addition to identifying key scholarly works/discussions, entries will often also include links to important primary source collections, top journals, essay collections, and book-length studies. 

Examples related to class themes

 

METHODOLOGICAL RESOURCES

Sage Research Methods

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.

 

 

Databases: Research Beyond JSTOR and Scholar

SOCIOLOGIAL PERSPECTIVES

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

LEGAL PERSPECTIVES

POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES

 

Primary Sources: HOLLIS Searching Tips

Remember that our catalog is old -- in the best sense of the word. You'll find a treasure trove of primary source documents there from all periods, in all languages, and from most parts of the world.

Some strategies: 

THINK ABOUT TIME FRAME. 

One easy way to find texts and other items that are roughly contemporaneous with your course readings is to modify a HOLLIS search you've run, using the date limiters that appear on the right hand side of the screen.

LOAD YOUR LINGUISTIC DICE.

Adding the word sources  to a keyword search can be useful to find republished collections of primary sources. Reader, anthologydocuments or documentary  can  also work well. ​

THINK IN TERMS OF GENRE.

Instead of adding a general word like "sources," to your keyword string, you can think specifically in terms of genre: case studies, ethnograph* (to capture ethnography, ethnographies, etc.) , interview*qualitative

Or run your keyword search in HOLLIS.  Then look for the Form/Genre filter on the left side of the results screen. 

Form/genre is where you'll see primary sources of these types (for example): correspondence (the official way of describing letters); diaries; exhibitions; speechesmemoirsnotebooks; personal narrativespictorial works (a traditional way of identifying a collection of images); photographs -- and more.

SCOUR FINDING AIDS.

Manuscripts that are held by Harvard libraries, like Houghton, will usually have an online finding aid linked to their HOLLIS records. Finding aids are detailed item-by-item descriptions of everything in a particular collection. Typically, finding aids will also provide contextual information, like biography, scope/content notes, preferred citation methods, etc. Finding aid URLs appear below the title in a HOLLIS manuscript record. 

THINK BACKWARD FROM A SECONDARY SOURCE.

​Remember that the secondary literature you find  (scholarly journals and books) will themselves be built on primary source materials. So will formats like biographies, when you're dealing with a person.  

 

Seed Sources for Student Projects, Fall 2023

HOLLIS LEADS

Databases

Primary Sources

Library Experts

 

SUBJECT DATABASES

HOLLIS LEADS

LIBRARY EXPERTS

HOLLIS LEADS: 

SUBJECT DATABASE:

LIBRARY EXPERTS

HOLLIS LEADS

SUBJECT DATABASES

PRIMARY SOURCES (Examples):

LIBRARY EXPERT 

RECENT LAW REVIEW: 

SUBJECT DATABASES

LIBRARY EXPERT

HOLLIS LEADS:

Response: Chaudhuri MM, Mkumba L, Raveendran Y, et al. (2021). "Decolonising Global Health: Beyond ‘Reformative’ Roadmaps and Towards Decolonial Thought." BMJ Global Health 2021, 6:e006371.

SUBJECT DATABASES

LIBRARY EXPERT

  • Fred Burchsted, History/HIstory of Science Librarian, Widener Library 

Getting Around Paywalls on the Web

FOUR WAYS TO SOLVE AN ACCESS ISSUE

  • Google Scholar Settings: One simple change can turn 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; click on it when you want to check Harvard's access and it will "unlock" content we provide.

Directions are available here: https://library.harvard.edu/services-tools/check-harvard-library-bookmark.


  • Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  Some users find it intrusive, however.