This research guide has been designed for students in MODERN LOVE, a spring 2020 Expository Writing class taught by Maggie Doherty.

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find the information you'll need to execute Essay 3 successfully. See them simply as starting points for your research into a story, film, TV series, or novel that picks up on important course themes.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. Language will be essential to the effort.  You may need to try several combinations of search terms, in fact, before you strike gold. 

Let us know how we can help as your work on Essay 3 gets underway. Contact Liz Berndt-Morris or Kerry Masteller for a personalized suggestion; we can discuss by email or set up a time to meet for a longer talk about your project. 

Enjoy your work! 

HOLLIS: Panoramic Searching of Harvard's Infoscape



HOLLIS combines the extensive contents of our library catalog with those of another, large and multidisciplinary database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.

It allows you to look for materials  broadly -- panoramically -- across a vast information landscape of print, digital, and multimedia sources.



Normally, yes, because the "curated content" HOLLIS offers you is specifically geared toward the Harvard community that you now belong to.

That means it's been vetted in one way or another by other scholars, by the publishing houses from which it originates, by the organizations and companies we purchase it from on your behalf, and/or by the specially trained library experts who are continually building up Harvard's collection.

Some of it might appear in a Google Scholar search, but a good portion of it is premium content that would never appear in search results on the free and open web. 





Build up and out from what you know already:the "keyword" (Google search) approach.

  •  Use the language that comes naturally to you to describe your topic.  Then mine your searchresults for verbal clues: other words (or word combinations) to substitute for the ones you've started with. Goodsearching is really about using language well and flexibly. Consciously look for ways to grow your searching vocabulary  as you go.

Build from what you have already: the item in hand approach.

  • An author, a core text from a class, a title of a book that your instructor recommends may contain clues that can lead you to other items, available at one or more Harvard libraries that cover the same topic or some aspect of your topic.
  • Its call number can sometimes identify a "range" in the library's stacks where you'll find related information.
  • Its subject terms (also known as subject headings) will link to related information throughout the libraries. 






When your assignment requires it, or when it helps you narrow down large result sets, limit your results to PEER-REVIEWED articles.


Scour ARTICLE ABSTRACTS (summaries) and when available, take note of subject terms, which you can use to refine, refocus, sharpen, or streamline your search. 


When they're offered, RECOMMENDED READINGS, which display to the right of an open HOLLIS record, are worth a glance. Like Amazon.com's recommendation feature, this tab can help you discover similar materials serendipitously, almost "sideways,"  based on what other users have read.    


When offered, click on the  tab (at the bottom of the item record.  


The impact of research can be measured, at least in part, by how many other scholars choose to use it as a source for their own subsequent investigations. The more times cited, the more influential a piece of scholarship is considered to be (for one reason or another). 



  • ​Use QUOTATION MARKS for phrases:  
    • "self help"   ||  "lily bart"
  • ​Connect search terms and phrases explicitly with AND/OR and do so with capital letters:  
    •       "revolutionary road" AND "richard yates AND criticism
  • ​Enclose synonyms or interchangeable concepts in PARENTHESES: 
    •       (gender OR female OR women) AND love AND film
  • ​Truncate words with an ASTERISK to pick up alternatives: 
    •       politic* will also retrieve  politics, political, politician (etc.)
  • ​FILTER your results via right side limit categories. They'll help you sharpen up and whittle down your search results by date, language, resource type, to peer-reviewed articles, and more.
  • ​Take advantage of special system features: always sign in.
  • ​STORE the items you want to track down or read later via the pushpin icon; SAVE a good search so you can remember what worked.


Databases Beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier

For many research projects you'll undertake as a Harvard student, Academic Search Premier  will be the logical next database to search, once you've sampled what's available to you in HOLLIS.

Like HOLLIS it's multidisciplinary in its coverage and it also provides you with a range of article types (some scholarly, some not).

But while still broad, it's a smaller universe than HOLLIS. Depending on your topic, in fact, searching in ASP may even be a more efficient route to quality information, simply because it will deliver a more manageable result set.



The searching strategies you've learned to use in HOLLIS will apply to ASP:

  • value of connecting words (like AND and OR); truncation; subject terms
  • left side limits
  • the ability to view content online;
  • ability to limit to peer-reviewed material;
  • ability to  create ready-made citations to cut and paste into your bibliography.


​​The thinking strategies will also transfer, so employ them here! 


Above, left: Issa Rae and Jay Ellis, from HBO's Insecure


MLA International Bibliography

The most important academic database for deep searching of the scholarship produced about all periods of literature (and in all languages). It also has strong and substantial coverage of scholarship on film, popular culture, and folklore.

In other words: if a Literature Department teaches it, you'll find it covered here.

Film and Television Literature Index

As its title implies, this database covers both film and television and from many angles:  theory, preservation and restoration, writing, production, cinematography, technical aspects, and reviews. 

​FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals

This database is contains over 500,000 article citations from more than 345 periodicals. It covers the entire history of film. 

The parent organtizaion of this database is FIAF, a French collective founded in 1938 and dedicated to preserving the world's film heritage.  Given its international coverage, you may need to limit by language.


 LGBT Life 

Magazines, academic journals, news sources, gray literature, and books about the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience. Some, but not all, are available in full text.

Gender Watch 

Articles, books, and NGO, government and special reports related to gender.


The primary source for abstracts of peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters, and dissertations in psychology and the behavioral sciences, maintained by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Sociology Database

Full text of journal articles, dissertations, and other sources covering sociology and social work, including related fields like social services and policy.

Tools for Locating Full-Text and Managing Your Sources

Google Scholar Settings: 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.  

If you've used NoodleTools or EasyBib in high school  -- or even if you've figured out the the pin and cite options in HOLLIS -- Zotero will take you to a whole new level. 

This free, open source citation management tool makes the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page stress-free and nearly effortless.

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero. A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: http://guides.library.harvard.edu/zotero.