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Social Studies 98


News Sources Old and New

Alt-Press Watch 

"Alternative"  and "independent" news dailes, weeklies, and magazines offer different perspectives on US government, policy, and culture, and international issues than mainstream media sources do, which makes them valuable when you're canvassing widely for a topic or for looking for stakeholder opinions across the ideological and disciplinary spectrums. 

The Conversation (U.S.)

The Conversation, which launched in Australia in 2011 and in the U.S. in 2014, arose out of "deep-seated concerns for the fading quality of our public discourse – and recognition of the vital role that academic experts can play in the public arena."

Editors pay close attention to the news environment to identify the issues citizens are concerned about. They reach out to leading scholars across academia and work with them to unlock their knowledge for the broad public.

Importantly, The Conversation is committed to information transparency and credibility. Authors are only allowed to write on a subject on which they have proven expertise and they must sign a disclosure statement outlining any relevant funding or affiliations.

Provides full-text access to more than 300 newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press in the U.S. Searchable in both English and Spanish.  Coverage begins about 1960.


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 1980s forward. Factiva is the major competitor to NexisUni (see below) for current news access.

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 the1980s forwardNexis Uni is also good for searching  transcripts of major TV  and radio news broadcasts (including BBC and NPR). 

ProQuest Historical Newspapers

 U.S. major dailies, some international titles, and an important collection of core U.S. black newspapers. Coverge ends, in most cases, c. 2015.


Key Centers and Library Databases for Critical Journalism and Media Studies


Annenberg School of Communication, U of Pennsylvania

Since 1958, the Annenberg School dedicated itself to  producing and disseminating cutting-edge scholarly research designed to advance the theoretical and empirical understanding of the role of communication in public and private life.

Research areas relevant to larger tutorial themes include Activism, Communication and Social Justice; Culture and Communication; and Media Institutions and Systems

Working papers and scholarship produced by Center Fellows and affiliates  are made searchable here:

Pew Research Center: Media and News

This well-respecpted nonpartisan "fact tank" that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. Pew conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. 

In addition to a wealth of reports and other publications on news and media topics generally,  Pew produces an annual State of the Media Report, which identifies and traces shifts in key economic, demographic, racial, and audience indicators.

Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard Kennedy School research center dedicated to exploring and illuminating the intersection of press, politics and public policy in theory and practice. The Center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars, and between them and the public. 

In addition to research reports and studies, the Center produces Journalist's Resources.  JR examines news topics through a research lens, summarizing policy research relevant to media practitioners, bloggers, educators, students and general readers.




Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost) [broad and multidisciplinary]

Communication Abstracts (EbscoHost) [media-focused]

Social Science Premium Collection (ProQuest) [deep and wide; interdisiciplinary social sciences]

PhilPapers: Journalism and Media  [good for theoretical perspectives]


Searching HOLLIS in the Age of COVID




1.  Understand what it is.

HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog, the record every item owned by every Harvard Library with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles. 


When you search "everything"  searching both of these databases together, at once. For better or for worse, "everything" is our system default. 


2. Know how to work it.

Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front. 




3. Take control of your results.

While the broad and panoramic approach to searching HOLLIS can be mind-opening, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by either the numbers or types of results your search returns.


When that happens, try one of these easy tricks:


Limit your Everything search results set just to the items listed in the LIBRARY CATALOG.

Your numbers will immediately get smaller. Keep in mind, though, that the results will be heavily weighted toward book-length studies.


Limit your Everything search results set to items that are identified as PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES.

You'll eliminate newspaper and magazine materials as well as books, of course, but you'll also raise the visibility of scholarly journal articles in what displays. 


Think about limiting your results to publications from the last 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

By doing so you'll get a snapshot of the most recent research trends and scholarly approaches in a field (or around a particular issue).

Experiment with limiting your searches to materials available  
You'll reduce your numbers of books by a wide margin, not often a good strategy, but an expedient one in exigent circumstances.  Learn more about strategies under the Pandemic Considerations tab. 




Your "default" approach to searching Harvard's catalog, HOLLIS, is probably similar to your Google approach: enter some words, see what comes up, then try again or improve from there. 

But BROWSING in the catalog is an under-appreciated research strategy, especially when you're trying to discover your interest. It helps you see how writing ABOUT an author, an idea, an event, etc. has been broken down and categorized. So instead of getting the typical list of titles, you see results in terms of sub-topics. Inspiration may lie there!


Open HOLLIS. Click on the  link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT. 



Browsing subject headings lists can teach you a lot about searching, because they rely on standardized language and standard ways of qualifying or further describing a give subject.  For example, these additional words may relate to a subject's geography (united states, brazil,  etc), or the time period that's under discussion in a book (19th century, or 2lst century). Sometimes, a specific marker of the type of information is also included in a subject heading, like statistics; legislation; handbooks; case studies; etc.).



Despite the fact that our physical items are unavailable and buildings are shuttered, HOLLIS can and should continue to be a key research resource, wherever students are.  That's in part because of the sheer size and enormous variety of what it contains, but also because the content students can surface there is substantial.  

Here are some ways to think through your digital options in HOLLIS

1. Scan & Deliver

This service, free to Harvard students even before the pandemic, can be a lifesaver when you find something in the catalog that's essential -- but only available in print.

Scan & Deliver allows you to request a PDF of an article, a portion of a book (and now, a portion of a special collection, under some circumstances). Just remember that the library staff  responsible for this service are returning to campus slowly, so the response time (usually within 4 days) may be delayed.

NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.

2. Hathi Trust Temporary Emergency Access Library 

IHathiTrust has a digitized copy, you'll be able to check it out, reserves-style. Presently, loans are given for 1 hour, automatically renewable if there's no waiting list for the item you're using.

Hathi Trust materials can't be downloaded or printed out (when they're in copyright), but the upside is that you'll have excellent access to our collection in print, even when you can't use the print. 

Normally, your access to HathiTrust items is seamless via Harvard; when you see the record details, click on the   link to initiate check out.

NOTE: If you go directly into HathiTrust through the link above, be sure you click on the button, top right  and choose Harvard University.

3. Internet Archive Open Library

For books not available online via a HOLLIS link or through HathiTrust, the Open Library may be a good next step. You'll need to create a free account to "check out" books (temporarily, for up to 2 weeks).  

4. Lamont West Door Pickup (if you're in / near Cambridge)

Materials that are available for checkout are requested online via HOLLIS; they are paged for you by library staff. When they are ready, you receive an email directing you to schedule a pick up time (15-minutes windows, as available)


Tools for Locating Full-Text and 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.  

Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  


 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: