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Humanities E-497: Crafting the Thesis Proposal in Religion, Dramatic Arts, and English

Harvard Extension School

bookmark iconJSTOR

One of the first, and still the best known of our full-text scholarly databases. JSTOR provides access to the contents of 2600 essential academic journals, in 75 knowledge domains in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  

Some of its content is open access and easily discoverable on the web; some is made available only because of your Harvard affiliation and the library's subscription to JSTOR.

lightbulb iconSmart Searching Tip 

Much of the journal content in JSTOR has a "moving wall," a set period of time (1-5 years) in which the most current volumes, issues, and articles of a particular journal are not available online for reading and downloading.

That means you may need to check a JSTOR search against results from another database just to be sure you've got the most current, as well as most relevant, scholarly conversations to work with. 

bookmark iconProject Muse

Originally a collection of high quality journals published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, Project Muse now includes both journals and books from non-profit scholarly publishers, including university presses and societies.

Muse is weighted heavily toward the humanities (though its coverage of the social sciences is also robust).


Content in Project Muse is current, and unlike JSTOR, there is no moving wall to contend with. 

In fact, recent issues of journal titles that are embargoed in JSTOR will sometimes be available for access in Project Muse

But there's substantial unique content in Muse, as well -- by some estimates, about 30% of the database -- and that makes double-checking it worthwhile for many projects.  

bookmark iconBritish Humanities Index (ProQuest)

Smaller than JSTOR and Project Muse, the British Humanities Index searches the contents of about 400 scholarly journals in areas like religion, gender studies, theater, cinema, literature, and the fine and performing arts.

Unlike JSTOR and Project Muse, moreover, the British Humanities Index includes some general interest magazines, published in the UK and internationally, and the contents of some newspapers and reports.  

The Index reflects the interdisciplinary nature of humanities research, allowing end users to find relevant articles in adjacent  and intersecting subject areas. It is also useful for researchers into the history of various subjects which are not themselves humanities: archaeology, economics, education medicine, geography, history of of science, regional studies, and the like.

bookmark iconArts Premium Collection (ProQuest)

The Arts Premium Collection contains thousands of journal titles, ensuring deep searches of extensive collections in specialist subject areas like art history, architecture and design, cultural theory,  film/screen studies, literature, music, performing arts, philosophy, religious studies and more. 

Given its breadth and its specialist orientation, moreover, this database also can serve to augment and supplement a search of the smaller British Humanities Index.

bookmark iconGoogle 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.