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Social Studies 98


Contexts, Overviews, and Consenus Views


Oxford Bibliographies Online combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with those of good subject overview  in order to help you 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 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.

See, for example: 



Oxford Handbook  of Intergroup Conflict (2012)

Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict (2014) 

Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory (2018)



The Series on Transitional Justice, published by Intersentia Ltd. in Cambridge, England, draws from disciplines such as law, political science,history, sociology, criminology, anthropology and psychology, as well as from various specialized fields of study such as human rights, victimology and peace studies. 

The series is aimed at a variety of audiences who are either working or interested in fields such as crime and justice; human rights; humanitarian law and human security; conflict resolution and peace building.


The Routledge Transitional Justice Series includes titles which address larger theoretical questions on transitional justice, including the intersection of notions such as justice, truth, accountability, impunity and the construction of transitional justice knowledge. It also contains critical and theoretically informed empirical work on the workings of institutions such as truth commissions, community based reconciliation, victim empowerment, ex-combatant demobilisation, or regional discussions on practical programss in particular areas.



Genocide, Political Violence, Human Rights Series (Rutgers UP): In partnership with the Rutgers Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, this series publishes cutting-edge scholarship from across the disciplines that enhance our understanding of such large-scale human rights violations and the principles and mechanisms that seek to prevent them, protect the vulnerable, and help victims recover. 


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 you start with:

icon for the annual reviews siteAnnual Reviews 

Since 1932, the Annual Reviews series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including many that relate to course themes:  economics, lawpolitical science, international relations, and sociology.



  • 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. 

  • When you are using a disciplinary specific database, like those listed below, you can often limit your your search (before or after you run it) to a literature review. When that option is available, you'll often find it listed under the document filter (or methodology filter).  Just don't confuse it with book reviews -- that's something else!

  • In the discipline of history, historiography is the term to add to your search to retrieve what are, essentially, literature reviews.



bookmark iconMass Atrocity Endings Case Studies, World Peace Foundation, Fletcher School, Tufts University

The Fletcher School's WPF program on mass atrocities, defined as widespread and systematic violence against civilians, primarily focuses on studying patterns of endings and memory politics. In this program, "endings" includes analysis of patterns of de-escalation of direct, lethal violence and other forms of harming civilians. It also includes the study of recurrence in the context of global trends.

Additional resources are available at the Mass Atrocities Research Project's home page.


Scholarly Conversations Beyond HOLLIS and JSTOR

Sociological Abstracts

A core resource for Social Studies concentrators, researchers, professionals, and students working in sociology, social planning and policy, and many related disciplines. It draws its contents from more than 1800 journals, relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews and other media.

Social Sciences Premium Collection

Searches beyond the borders of Sociological Abstracts to incorporate content from other ProQuest databases covering topics like criminology, education, and politics. Results lists tend to be massive; consider limiting results by format, year, language, and so forth to create more manageable sets. 


Historical Abstracts

The authoritative scholarly resource for world history, from 1450 AD to the present. It describes the contents of more than 1600 journals, in 40 languages, as well as books, reviews, and dissertations. It does not cover the U.S. or Canada, however. See America: History and Life, below. 

America: History and Life 

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. 

TIP: In a historically-focused database like AHL or HA, you can set date parameters (a range of years or centuries) to identify the historical period a book or article covers and is about. Most other databases only let you limit to publication date of the articles themselves.


 Worldwide Political Science Abstracts 

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. 


The advantages of Academic Search Premier are

  1. its multidisciplinarity;
  2.  its inclusion of very recent content; and
  3. its mix of scholarly, news, and magazine content. 


 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.

Leads for Student Projects, Spring 2021



Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Peru (Oxford Reference Encyclopedias)

Critical Debates: New Scholarship of Peru's Internal Conflict. Latin American Politics and Society, 59.1, 2017 (secondary)

HAPI (Hispanic American Periodicals Index; secondary)

Latin American Newsstream  (primary)


Jennifer Allison ( Librarian for Foreign, International, and Comparative Law



ABSEES: Annual Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (secondary)

Euromaiden Protests in Ukraine, 2013-2014 (East View. Databases; primary)

Ukraine Conflict (Internet Archive; primary) 





International Index of Black Periodicals Full-Text (secondary; focus on "journal" results first)

Ethnic NewsWatch (secondary)

ProQuest HistoryVault: Civil Rights and the Black Freedom Struggle (primary)

  • sample search: genocide AND "united states" AND "united nations" AND patterson

Proquest Historical Black Newspapers  (primary0

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995 (primary)

Tools for Managing Research


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, a 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: