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Social Studies 98


Backgrounds and Consensus Views

Answering the Question: What's Known? 

Companions are a stock-in-trade for academic researchers. Typically, they're edited volumes, with chapters written by authorities -- or recognized experts in a field. They synthesize current "consensus" thinking and present the most widely accepted perspectives on a concept, person, movement, etc.  They usually contain extensive bibliography which you can mine as well.

Examples: book cover cambridge companion to german idealism



lightbulb icon Smart Searching Tip in HOLLIS

Combine a broad keyword search with this or similar terms: handbookguide, reader, and sometimes, introduction. 

Example(handbook OR companion) AND schopenhauer



Answering the Question: How do I  Prioritize My Reading?


icon oxford university pressOxford Bibliographies Online

Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material, but its overabundance. Entries in the OBO are created and curated by scholars aim to address the common problem of knowing what to read, who to read, or which voices in the conversation you should give some fuller attention to.

They 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 disciplinary topic. They're regularly updated to remain current.

Examples of OBO entries:

Answering the Question: Where do I get a reliable overview? 


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Entries are created and maintained by groups of experts and materials are peer-reviewd by a distinguished editorial board prior to their publication. Essays cover individuals, concepts, and events related to all aspects of philosophy. Each article has a list of references to other sources, including books and journal articles. 


Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

routledge iconConsidered one of the most comprehensive resources available for the study of philosophy. It is a trusted source of quality information, providing access to over 2,800 articles that have been edited for level and consistency by a team of renowned subject experts. 

Scholarship beyond HOLLIS and JSTOR

Research projects often require you to look close up at a body of research produced by scholars in a particular field.  This research is typically collected, codified, and made findable in a subject database.  

These are listed on the library's Databases search page. 

The databases that Harvard subscribes to on your behalf are discoverable three ways: by title; by a broad keyword search; or by browsing disciplinary categories.

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus.


Top picks for SOCSTUD 98rg:


A discovery site that aims to be a comprehensive entry point to all branches of philosophy, maintained and updated by a community of philosophers. Books, journals, preprints, dissertations, personal web sites of scholars are made searchable here. A finely grained "taxonomy" of subjects allows for efficient browsing of research on Aesthetics. Additionally, you can browse scholarship devoted to major theorists you may interested in: Adorno, Benjamin, Nietzsche, etc. 

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, theory and philosophy.

Google Scholar

One advantage of Google Scholar is its familiar and intuitive interface; another is its currency.  It incorporates full-text into its search algorithms, and that can be an advantage when you've got a very narrow topic or are seeking a "nugget" that traditional library database searching can't surface easily. 

Google Scholar incorporates more types of information -- not just books and journal contents-- and depending on your need, comfort level, and perspective, that eclecticism can be an advantage.  Not all of it is scholarly, but the vast majority of it is. 

Google Scholar is also an easy way to follow CITATION TRAILS. Enter the title of a book or journal article and then click on "Cited by" when the item appears.  If the cited references are very numerous, consider keyword searching with them.

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: