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.
A search of Annual Reviews can therefore help you easily identify—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field. The comprehensive critical review not only summarizes a topic but also roots out errors of fact or concept and provokes discussion that will lead to new research activity.
The advanced search screen offers excellent search tips, including ways select certain AR titles or limit to particular disciplines and narrow by date.
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 there.
The BTI is a collaboration of nearly 300 country and regional experts from leading universities and think tanks worldwide. The project analyzes and compares transformation processes towards democracy and inclusive market economy worldwide. The BTI aims to identify successful strategies for steering change. Produces country and regional reports and features a Transformation Atlas.
The COVID-DEM Infohub has been established to help democracy analysts worldwide track, compile, and share information on how State responses to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are impacting on democratic governance.
The Fragile States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Fragile States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.
Freedom House produces research and reports on a number of core thematic issues related to democracy, political rights and civil liberties. Its research and analysis are used to frame policy debates in the United States and abroad on the progress and decline of freedom. Freedom House's flagship publication, Freedom in the World, is the standard-setting comparative assessment of global political rights and civil liberties.
A global coalition which operates in over 100 countries to expose the systems and networks that enable corruption. TI does research to advocate for policies and laws to change the system, and it build coalitions to drive national, regional and international change. TI produceds two important annual reports. The Corruption Perception Index scores and ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by experts and business executives. The Global Corruption Barometer supplements the CPI by surveying ordinary citizens around the world. Country and regional information can be accessed from the site.
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.
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (ProQuest)
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.
PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) covers publications on the full range of political, social, and public policy issues and on any topics that are or might become the subject of legislation or are of import internationally.
Sociological Abstracts (ProQuest)
A core resource for researchers, professionals, and Social Studies concentrators, in general. 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. Sociological Abstracts sits inside a larger multidisciplinary database, the Social Sciences Premium Collection for those times when broader exploration is warranted.
The advantages of Academic Search Premier are 1) its multidisciplinary; 2) its inclusion of very recent content; and 3) its mix of scholarly, news, and magazine content.
Your search results may seem more manageable than in HOLLIS and less narrowly focused than JSTOR, but that said, 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.
A world-wide collaborative devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research. It's often an excellent place to check for papers that may have been presented in a pre-publication, "working form" or at conferences.
Through a partnership with some major publishers, moreover, SSRN will sometimes identify new studies "in press" (i.e., slated for publication in an upcoming journal issue). Most documents are downloadable free of charge, in keeping with the site's emphasis on open access, but you'll want to register on the site to access them.
Most of the research databases you use through the Harvard Library search for information differently than Google Scholar. Most base their results lists on "metadata" -- the descriptive information about items that identifies features in certain fields (title, author, table of contents, subject terms, etc.).
While Google Scholar's algorithms account for some of this same information, it adds full-text into the mix when it retrieves, sorts, and ranks search results.
What does this mean for you? Sometimes, better relevance, especially on the first page or so.
And sometimes, given that it searches full-text, Google Scholar might reveal more quickly than our databases where a hard-to-find nugget of scholarly information is hidden away in a published article.
Google Scholar can also be a good place to do a "cited reference" search in order to trace scholarly reaction to/engagement a particular article forward in time.
CIAO is the most comprehensive source for theory and research in international affairs. It publishes a wide range of scholarship from 1991 onward that includes working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from NGOs, foundation-funded research projects, proceedings from conferences, books, journals and policy briefs.
Two specially constructed search engines allow you to canvass information that might otherwise be difficult to turn up. Many of the documents produced by IGOs and NGOs are widely distributed on the web but not necessarily included in standard databases of published scholarly research.
IGO Search Engine includes material from the World Bank, UN Development Program (UNDP), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union, Organization of American States, the Asian Development Bank and many others.
NGO Search Engine includes local, regional and international NGOs and draws its materials from sources as diverse as AARP, Earth Watch Institute, International Crisis Group, OXFAM, the World Agricultural Forum. Sites were chosen based on their consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).
USING HOLLIS WELL: THREE CONSIDERATIONS
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).
RESOURCES IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
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.
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.
If HathiTrust 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.
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).
Library Expert: Kathleen Donovan, Gutman Education Library
Library expert: Lynn Shirey, Librarian for Latin America