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Social Studies 98




This research guide has been designed as a first point of entry for students n Social Studies 60, a Fall 2020 course taught by Don Tontiplaphol. 

If questions about finding, accessing, or managing information arise at any point in your project, librarians are your lifelines!  

Please feel free to contact me. We'll triage by email, or we can set up a time to meet up on Zoom for a longer conversation.

Enjoy your work!

Sue Gilroy, Library Liaison to Social Studies, Lamont Library 

Contexts, Overviews, Consensus Views


logo oxford university pressThe Oxford Bibliographies Online 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.

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.

Examples related to Social Studies 60  course themes include:



Handbooks and companions are a stock-in-trade for academic researchers. Typically, they're edited volumes, with chapters written by (often commissioned from) subject experts. They synthesize current "consensus" thinking about  a particular topic, phenomenon, theory, etc., and often offer extensive bibliography. 

Certain publishers (Oxford UP, Cambridge UP,  Blackwell, Routledge, and Sage) are well-known for producing high quality, authoritative handbooks on a wide array of topics across the disciplinary spectrum. 

PRO-TIP: One easy way to search for them is simply to add the word "handbook"  or "companion" or "introduction"  or even "reader" to a broad keyword search in HOLLIS. That's because they often have this word in the title (signifying form as as well as content) or because they a have special language tag added to the catalog description.



Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory

In this volume an international team of distinguished contributors examines the major figures in Critical Theory, including Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, and Habermas, as well as lesser known but important thinkers such as Pollock and Neumann. The volume surveys the shared philosophical concerns that have given impetus to Critical Theory throughout its history, while at the same time showing the diversity among its proponents that contributes so much to its richness as a philosophical school. The result is an illuminating overview of the entire history of Critical Theory in the twentieth century, an examination of its central conceptual concerns, and an in-depth discussion of its future prospects.


Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (2015)

Leading scholars from across the globe provide an overview of the analytical frameworks and concepts feminist theorists have developed to challenge key epistemic assumptions that inform traditional scholarship. The chapters offer innovative analyses these transfomrations on  topics in social and political science, cultural studies and the humanities, discourses in medicine and science and contemporary critical theory.  


Sage Handbook of Philosophy of Social Sciences (2011)

Starting with the history of social scientific thought, this handbook sets out to explore the core fundamentals of social science practice, from issues of ontology and epistemology to issues of practical method.  Considers the contrasting approaches by which social scientists study the world and justify their knowledge claims and  identifies the fissures and debates in contemporary thought.







Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: a well-respected web resource. 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;

The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, first published in 2001 and completely revised in 2015, is an effort to map the map the social and behavioral sciences on a grand scale. As such, it is a vast, authoritative, and efficient first point of entry for researchers. 

Each article provides a detailed overview of the individual, idea, phenomenon, movement or field it treats, complete with cross-references.  All articles are followed with useful bibliographies identifying the scholarship and texts that have been most important in shaping consensus thinking as well as the figures who are now making cutting edge contributions 

Because the  IESBS is part of a larger online information pavilion, called Science Direct, related content links will sometimes appear on the right side of the subject entry, to encourage further exploration and discovery. 

Scholarship beyond JStor and Google Scholar

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. 

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.


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 many topics. 

Examples of curated subject pages: 

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.

Primary Sources

Social Theory: brings together an extensive range of influential writings representing the most important trends of sociological thought from the eighteenth century to the present day. Included in the more than 150,000 pages of searchable content are seminal works by such theorists as Harriet Martineau, Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Jürgen Habermas, Talcott Parsons, Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard.

Past Masters: Full-text electronic editions of works by major philosophical figures, in both original language and in English translation. Areas covered include the history of political thought and theory, education, religious studies, economics, classics, history and German studies. Texts include published and unpublished works, articles and essays, and correspondence. 


At Harvard

Beyond Harvard

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 special 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 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: