Key Subject-Specific Databases to Know


Search by keyword, journal title, topic area, or some combination of topc and keywords (with additional filters).

Combines two great "gold standard" databases: Anthropological Literature, produced at Harvard, and Anthropological Index, produced by the UK's Royal Anthropological Institute and the British Museum. 


This database also searches the contents of  ERIC, a key resource for scholarship, policy, and the literature of practice, and originally produced by the Dept of Education.


This database encompasses the contents of Linguistic and Language Behavior Abstracts, a key rsesource for scholashiip on topics like the intersection of anthropology and linguistics, language structure, language acquisition, discourse analysis, and more.  



Major Multidisciplinary Databases

Google Scholar 

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 the section below. 


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. 

Social Sciences Premium Collection 

A core resource for researchers, professionals, and students working in the interdisciplinary social sciences. In addition to citations, abstracts, and (often) full-text of 2400 journal titles, this database will also identify relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews.


Given its purpose, the SSPC, much like HOLLIS, can return result sets that seem enormous.But you have options to control what you see:

  • After running a search, you can always limit your results via left-side filters: publication date, source type, language, etc.  You can even drill deeper into the results in a particular database that SSPC includes.
  • Before running a search, you can make some decisions about what you want to see up front.  These categories appear right below the search boxes:

screenshot of pre-search limit options by source, document type, and language

Academic Search Premier

This database can be a good next step once you've explored content available in HOLLIS,  particularly if you feel overwhelmed -- or sometimes, underwhelmed -- by the journal and article search results you've uncovered there. 

While much of what ASP searches is from scholarly sources, generous amounts also come from newspaper and general interest magazines. Like HOLLIS, ASP casts a wide net, so you might  see your topic treated from a number of disciplinary angles or through a variety of theoretical lenses. That said, given what ASP includes in its database, result sets can sometimes have more breadth than scholarly depth. 


This databases overs core scholarly journals in 75 fields.  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; the most recent issues of journals may not even appear in a JSTOR search, however, if they are behind the database's 1-5 year "moving wall."