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Expo E-25 | Academic Research and Writing: Food (Feinberg)

Spring 2021



This resource guide has been designed for students in Joan Feinberg's Spring 2021 Extension School writing seminar. 

image of canoe boats filled with food in the Solomon Islands, a phenomenon known as floating marketsThe resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted and are meant to be representative, rather than selective. They represent our first best guesses at where you'll like find the "few good things" you need on the themes of future foods or food and climate change. 

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 lead. If you hit a dead-end, that's normal: redirecting yourself or finding an alternative solution to the research problem you're confronted with is part of the process. 

Your ability to use language well and flexibly is also critical. Searching depends on words. So use language creatively and flexibly.  You may even need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. That's normal, too. 

Let me know how I can help as your work on Essay 3 proceeds. We can triage by email or have a longer conversation on Zoom.

Enjoy your research adventure!  

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Writing Programs, Lamont Library

Image above: Floating Markets, Solomon Islands, June 24, 2004.: Paul Cater Deaton, NOAA, via Flickr (CCX2.0)

HOLLIS: A Key Research Database




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 20years.

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).






HOLLIS will be a key research resource for your Expos essay, no matter where you are working from this term.  That's in part because of the sheer size and enormous variety of what it contains, but also because the content students can surface there is substantial.  

Here are some ways to think through your digital options in HOLLIS:

1. Scan & Deliver

This service, free to Harvard students even before the pandemic, can be a lifesaver when you find something in the catalog that's essential -- but only available in print.

Scan & Deliver allows you to request a PDF of an article that's unavailable digitally or a portion of a book (up to two chapters).  Normally, you'll get the scanned article or chapter(s) within 4 days of submitting your request.  Often, the email linking you to the scan arrives much sooner than that. Use this service liberally. That's what it's there for!

NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.

2. Hathi Trust Temporary Emergency Access Library 

IHathiTrust has a digitized copy, 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 for the item you're using.

HathiTrust materials can't be downloaded or printed out (when they're in copyright), but the upside is that you'll have excellent access to our collection in print, even when you can't use the print. 

Normally, your access to HathiTrust items is seamless via Harvard; when you see the record details, click on the   link to initiate check out.

NOTE: If you go directly into HathiTrust through the link above, be sure you click on the button, top right  and choose Harvard University.

3. Internet Archive Open Library

For books not available online via a HOLLIS link or through HathiTrust, the Open Library may be a good next step. You'll need to create a free account to "check out" books (temporarily, for up to 2 weeks).  

4. Lamont Front Door Pickup (if you're in / near Cambridge)

Materials that are available for checkout are requested online via HOLLIS; they are paged for you by library staff. When they are ready, you receive an email directing you to schedule a pick up time (15-minutes windows, as available)


Academic Search Premier: Looking Beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier:  an excellent database to rummage around in after you've sampled what's available in Articles 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, and depending on your topic, searching in ASP may seem more manageable and targeted, and the results you get will likely be fewer number. When HOLLIS "obscures," a database like ASP might help you "clarify" -- i.e., see your way forward a bit more clearly. 


Google Scholar: Building Research Leads from Items You Have "In Hand"


Although it's not a Harvard Library "database," Google Scholar is perfectly acceptable for most general forays into scholarship; its algorithms are excellent and do return relevant results.

One of the best ways to generate research leads with Scholar is to use it to follow citation trails  when you have a known source -- a class reading, a book you've found on HOLLIS that looks promising, an article that's so "perfect" for a research project that you want to see if there's "more like it" out there, waiting to be discovered. 

For example: 

  • You can click on cited by to see which scholars picked up and used a research article/book in research. Just enter the title.
  • Big "cited by" lists can be whittled down by adding keywords and clicking on the search within cited reference option.
  • Related articles helps you identify research that's close ----algorithmically, at least -- to the item you started with. 

lightbulb icon PRO-TIP

 One simple change to the settings in Google Scholar will turn it into what's effectively a Harvard database -- with links to the full-text of journal articles that GS wants you to pay for.  We give them to you free of charge.

Here's how to optimize Google Scholar for Harvard access:

Look to the left of the GS screen and click on the "hamburger" (); then click on .  Look left for (and click on) "Library Links."  Then type Harvard  into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.