This brief guide is designed for students in Humanities E-100, a Spring 2022 Extension school class taught by Stephen Shoemaker.
The intent is not to be exhaustive, just suggestive: you'll find below some resources -- and perhaps more importantly -- some thinking strategies to employ as you search out quality monographic and journal literature in the Harvard research environment.
Let me know -- at any point in the semester -- if you have questions about searching, locating primary and secondary sources, or citing materials. We can triage by email or meet up on Zoom for a one-on-one conversation,
Enjoy your work!
Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Services for Academic Programs, Lamont Library
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).
When an article you need is available in a print journal at Harvard but not online, you can ask us to make a PDF for you through a service called Scan and Deliver.
We'll send you an email when it's ready for downloading, typically between 1 and 4 days after you place the request. Scan and Deliver is a free service to Harvard affiliates.
Scan and Deliver is also an option if you want up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.
NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.
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.
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!
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).
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.
Borrow Direct Plus (Post COVID, TBD): 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
If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there
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 tool called a subject database.
Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals.
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.
Recommended "step between" HOLLIS and subject specific databases
Like HOLLIS, Academic Search Premier is 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. In the early stages of research, when you're not sure what fields your research topic falls in -- or between, ASP might just feel like a more "manageable" space to go exploring.
Best database for finding religion-focused scholarship:
Produced by the American Theological Library Association, this database compiles the major scholarly literature produced in journals and books. Citations cover all religions and all theological points of view.
The essential database for U.S. history (and thus, for history of religion in the U.S.)
For topics that are related to literature of all kinds or folklore
Produced under the auspices of the Modern Language Association, the major U.S. scholarly association for literature and literary-related fields, MLA is the premier database for searching scholarship on literature from all periods, in all languages, in all its forms. It also covers areas like folklore, media studies, and popular culture of all kinds.
Literature Online (LION)
A leading online resource for the study and teaching of literature in English, it has three major components: primary sources (over 355,000 literary works), a database of literary criticism, and an online library of key reference resources.
Scholarship and criticism in this database comes from ABELL (the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, the British "cousin" to the MLA). Although there is significant overlap with MLA, ABELL does have some unique content and is usually worth checking.
Covers a broad spectrum of the arts and entertainment industry - including dance, drama, theater, stagecraft, musical theater, circus performance, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, performance art, film, television and more.
Three additional options
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 yourHarvard 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."
Social Science Premium Collection (ProQuest)
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, and covering bid disciplinary areas like sociology, anthropology politics, and more.
It searches full-text which can be an advantage when you've got a very narrow topic or are seeking a "nugget" that traditional 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. GS is perfectly acceptable for most general forays into scholarship; its algorithms are excellent and do return relevant results. GS can also be a good way to follow citation trails.
Learn how to get around the Google Scholar paywalls by changing your computer settings here: https://library.harvard.edu/services-tools/google-scholar
Zotero, a 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: http://guides.library.harvard.edu/zotero.
DON'T HAVE TIME TO LEARN ZOTERO RIGHT NOW?
ZoteroBib, a free citation generator, may be the answer for your E-25 paper. It lets you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software. Some of its handy features are described on this page.