This guide is meant to offer you a first point of entry into major resources for accessing scholarly sources in the Harvard research environment. The intent is to be neither comprehensive nor too finely grained -- we want to give you just enough to encourage exploration and help you gain confidence, without overwhelming you with choices.
Research is about hypothesis-making and testing and for that reason, you'll find that it's more iterative than linear. As your project develops and your thinking deepens and expands, other tools, other kinds of information, and other search techniques might need to be added to this knowledge base.
Feel free to contact me, at any point in the process, whenever questions arise. I may not have the answer myself, but I'll know which Harvard librarian has the expertise you're after and will put you in touch with him or her.
Enjoy your work!
Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont Library
Since 1932,the Annual Reviews series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including political science, sociology, anthropology, and public health.
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.
SMART SEARCHING 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.
Don't be put off by the name of this resource: the social sciences (and humanities) are also well-represented in this multidisciplinary database of over 20,000 journals. Results display by default in reverse chronological order, but you can resort them by relevance if that better suits your purposes.
A keyword topic search in Web of Science, much like HOLLIS, will return results that you can then sift through using a variety of left-side filter categories. Under document type, look for the review option. Selecting it will help you quickly uncover essays that sum up and synthesize research trends and breakthroughs and to trace citation trails (the "web" of interconnected scholarly conversations).
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.
One of the first, and still the best known of our full-text scholarly databases. JSTOR provides access to the contents of 2600 core academic journals, in 60 knowledge domains in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
Much of the journal content in JSTOR has a "moving wall," a set period of time in which the most current volumes, issues, and articles of a particular journal are not available online for reading and downloading. (Depending on the journal title, the moving wall may be anywhere between 1 and 5 years). In a few instances, the moving wall has been eliminated altogether.
Most of the research databases you use 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.
So have it your repertoire: just be sure you maximize its utility to you by adjusting your Google Scholar settings, as described in final section of this guide.
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.
This database might be an excellent next step after you've sampled what's available in HOLLIS. Academic Search Premier is also multidisciplinary in its coverage, 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, searching in ASP may even be a more efficient route to quality information simply because it will deliver a more manageable result set.
For those times when ASP might seem broader than deep the longer list of EBSCOhost subject databases that the Harvard Libraries subscribes to.
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.
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.
PAIS Index (Public Affairs Information System)
Covers issues in the public debate through selective coverage of a wide variety of international sources including journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference papers, web content, and more.
A unique resource for U.S. public policy research in that it grants users access to timely, updated information from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities. One nice feature is that you can also browse organizations by emphasis and by political leaning.
Social Sciences Premium Collection
With an aim to facilitate cross-disciplinary research, SSPC combines, in one place, the contents of several of the most important databases for of the social sciences, among them Sociological Abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, and the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences.
Journals, including non-English language ones, working papers and reports, dissertations, magazine and trade publications are among the types of documents you might turn up by searching SSPC.
USING HOLLIS WELL: THREE CONSIDERATIONS
1. Understand what HOLLIS 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" -- the system default -- your results represent content from both databases together, at once. You can make different choices, however before or after you execute a search, if you want to view "library catalog" content separately.
2. Know how to work HOLLIS.
Creating search strings with some of the techniques below can help you get better results up front.
3. Take control of your HOLLIS 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 Books and Covid 19 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!
HOW DO YOU BROWSE?
Open HOLLIS. Click on the link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT.
Examples of subject terms in actiom (click to see subdivisions of each topic):
TRANSFERABLE KNOWLEDGE TIP: Words Always Matter
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 additional words may relate to a subject's geography ("united states," massachusetts, etc.), or the time period that's under discussion in a book (19th century, 20th century, etc.).
Sometimes, a specific marker of the form or type of information is also included in a subject heading (statistics, legislation, handbooks, case studies, etc.).
Despite the fact that our 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 online content students can surface there is substantial. Services like Scan and Deliver
In addition, some organizations (and a few commerical publishers) are opening up temporary, emergency access to a wide array of e-books, textbooks, and digital materials that fuel scholarship. Humanities E-100 students should know about:
HathiTrust Emergency Library: If a still-in-copyright text is in HathiTrust and has been digitized, 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.
From within HOLLIS, full-text items from HathiTrust are linked. You should arrive right at the Temporary Access link with a single click.
If you enter HathiTrust directly over the web (at http://hathitrust.org), you might, instead, be told that the item is unavailable because of copyright.
The key here is to announce yourself as a member of the Harvard community. Just click on the button, at the top right of the screen, and choose Harvard University
Open Library (via Internet Archive)
When you're far from Cambridge, identifying books in print and on shelves in Harvard's library buildings can seem like a futile exercise. You can, however, often get your hands on items your find in HOLLIS even if you live many miles away from the Yard.
1. WorldCat: this is a database of library catalogs and useful for identifying college, university, and other library collections that are in your vicinity. Search for the title and then enter your ZIPCODE to identify your options.
With WorldCat, you're going beyond the BorrowDirect consortium and beyond our reciprocal lending agreements. However, as long as any of the area libraries allow you in (often a phone call or a scan of the website will clarify policy), you'll be in luck!
2. Check the catalog of the large PUBLIC LIBRARY in your area. Depending on the region, the size of the library, its mission, and its funding, a local public library may have a significant research component to its collection (The Boston Public Library at Copley Square is a prime example).
3. Ask your local library about an INTERLIBRARY LOAN. Libraries routinely borrow from each other on behalf of their patrons; if you have a library card, you should be able to request it (or have a librarian do so). ILL can take a bit of time, however. You might wait a week or a bit more before the item arrives. Some places charge a small fee for the service.
4. Borrow Direct Plus: currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member of this library consortium can obtain a card that allows access to the collections and privileges similar to those at Harvard libraries.
Participating members: Brown U, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, U of Chicago, U Penn, Yale
5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there
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 chosen carefully and 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 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.
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 a past academic life -- 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.