This research guide has been created for Expo E-42B, an advanced writing course taught by Evan Price.
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 complete your final essay project.
As you begin, keep in mind 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. You may need to try several searches before you strike gold.
Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom for a personal consultation.
Enjoy your work!
Jonathan Paulo, Research Librarian, Harvard Extension School
Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont Library
MAGAZINES, CURRENT AND HISTORICAL
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 and its time span is generous, so it's worth checking as a matter of course. (It can also be a good step between HOLLIS and subject-specific databases you'll search).
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.
USING HOLLIS WELL: THREE CONSIDERATIONS
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.
DOCUMENT DELIVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO YOU:
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.
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 (Post-COVID TBD): currently enrolled Extension School students who live near a member library of this 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
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 into the search box and save your choice. As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.
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.