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Social Studies 98


Social Studies 98vr: Backgrounds, Contexts, Consensus Views

Oxford Bibliographies Online

OBOs combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia. They aim 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.

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.



Handbooks and Companions

Handbooks are typically edited volumes, with chapters written by recognized experts. They synthesize current "consensus" thinking around a particular topic or present the most widely accepted perspectives. They usually contain an extensive bibliography which you can mine as well.


PRO TIP:HOLLIS is also a good place to search for these tools. One strategy is just to combine a broad keyword search with this format type (e.g., corruption AND democra* AND handbook). Other terms to try (for rough equivalents of the handbook) are companionguide and reader.

Research Encyclopedias: Examples

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. 


  • 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.
  • If you are searching a history database (like Historical Abstracts), the rough equivalent of the lit review is the historiography.  You can uncover existing ones by adding historiograph* to a keyword search or by using filters pre- or post-search to target this scholarly form. 


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.

Finding Research Beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier

Often a good intermediate step between a HOLLIS/JSTOR search and a search of subject databases like those described below.

Bibliography of Asian Studies

Many hundreds of English-language journals from and about South Asia are indexed in thiss important resource.

Historical Abstracts

The gold standard for research into world history, 1450-present (excluding the U.S. and Canada). One nice feature is a filter is the ability to search articles about a particular period; also a resource for identifying historiographies that may exist.

Index Islamicus

The key database of scholarship on all aspects of Islam and the global Muslim world. 

ProQuest Politics Collection

Provides access to the international rsearch literature on all aspects of, political theory,  political behavior, political institutions, actions, eras, and more.



CAORC Digital Library for International Research

The Council on American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) consists of twenty-three member sites, including ones in South and Southeast Asia. In the host countries where they operate, these centers are the primary vehicle through which American scholars carry out research vital to our understanding of and interaction with other cultures.

Their research materials are made searchable in the Digital Library for International Research--essentially a shared catalog for CAORC affiliates.

Some items will be unique; others might duplicate materials you'll discover in HOLLIS or a subject database. Still, it might be worth a try, given that the parameters of this resource are specially targeted to regions you've chosen to study for term projects.

Yearbook of the United Nations

This is the authoritative reference work on the activities and concerns of the entire Organization.

Each of the sixty-eight volumes of the Yearbook, dating back to the 1946–47 edition, includes the texts of all major General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions, and places them in a narrative context of UN consideration, deliberation and action.

The latest published edition is Vol. 68 (2014), which appeared in 2019. 

However, you can also see pre-press (drafted versions) of the Yearbook for 2015-2017.

UN Digital Library (1975-present)

The central repository for UN documents and publications, including things like voting records, speeches, reports of special rapporteurs, etc. f

The Dag Hammerskold Library of the U.N. in Geneva maintains some research guides that will help you work with this information (and search it effectively).  See, for example, this page of resources:

HEIN Online United Nations Law Collection

This collection, which the Harvard Library subscribes to you on your behalf, is another way into UN documents and publications.
It provides exact reproductions of major UN legal publications, including the complete collection of the UN treaty series. Also discoverable here are International Court of Justice reports, advisory opinions and orders, and more.


IGO Custom Search Engine 

Searches web content of intergovernmental agencies. including World Bank, IMF, Relief Web, an many more.

NGO Custom Search Engine 

Searches web content of non-governmental organizations for perspectives from civil society, like Freedom House, Amnesty International, HRW, and more.

Think Tank Search

A customized Google Search from the Harvard Kennedy School for policy perspectives.

Special Uses of HOLLIS

image of key search considerations: sign-in, use of quotation marks, use of truncation, boolean operators, and nested searching.

Searching Non-Roman Scripts in HOLLIS


  • Sometimes, adding the word sources to a keyword string will retrieve published collections of primary source materials.  Other words that you can try include document* (for documents and documentary); readeranthologycasebook

  • Using the right side limits, adjust the DATE PARAMETERS of your search results. Items that were published on the subject during the period you specify will qualify as primary sources. 
  • Using the right side limits, examine the  FORM/GENRE categories. Items that have been tagged with words like "interviews," "autobiography," "memoir," "speeches," "photographs," "correspondence" (and so on) might help you target various kinds of primary sources.

News Sources



Expert Librarians

Ramona Crawford, Research Librarian and Liaison to South Asia Studies , Widener Library, Room 220

Fred Burchsted, Research Librarian and Liaison to History, Widener Library, Room 220

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian and Liaison to Social Studies, Lamont Library, Room 210

Diane Sredl, Data Services Librarian, Lamont Library, Room 210