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Social Sciences S-100B | Graduate Proseminar (Orkaby)


Contents of this Guide: Welcome


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 neither to be comprehensive nor finely grained -- we want to give you just enough to encourage exploration  and help your 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 librarians have the expertise you're after and will put you in touch with them. 

Enjoy your work! 

Sue Gilroy, Research Librarian, Lamont Library

Serendipity and Strategy: Searching HOLLIS



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. 


  • Try 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).




  • Sometimes, adding the word sources to a keyword string will retrieve published collections of primary source materials.  Other words that you can try include document* (for documents and documentary); readeranthologycasebook

  • Using the right side limits, adjust the DATE PARAMETERS of your search results. Items that were published on the subject during the period you specify will qualify as primary sources. 


  • Using the right side limits, examine the  FORM/GENRE categories. Items that have been tagged with words like "interviews," "autobiography," "memoir," "speeches," "photographs," "correspondence" (and so on) might help you target various kinds of primary sources.


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.  WorldCatthis 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), including e-books and some digitized materials that Harvard may not have.

Public libraries large and small also have access to ebooks, and can be a rich alternative source if Harvard doesn't have what you need or you can't get to our copy.


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. 

5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there.


Scan and Deliver

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.  

Searching Non-Roman Scripts in HOLLIS


Brief Library FAQ on searching non-Roman scripts in HOLLIS

Romanization and Transliteration (from the Middle East and Islamic Studies library guide)

Official Transliteration Tables for Nom Roman Scripts from the Library of Congress (includes Arabic,Cyrillic, Hebrew, Vietnamese,Chinese, etc.)



Finding the Research Conversation in Journals and White Papers


Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost)

Why: The advantages of Academic Search Premier are 1) it is multidisciplinary; 2) it includes publications that are current as well as historical; and 3) it offers a mix of scholarly, news, and magazine content.

ASP can sometimes also seem broader than it is deep. When that's the case, try one of the databases listed below. 


Why: This tried and true database is probably one of the first places you learned to search for scholarly literature. "Smallish" (in relative terms), it's also mighty because the journals it includes are those that, historically, have been considered the most important and most impactful in the fields they cover.  

One nice feature of JSTOR is the ability to zero in on a particular discipline. Scanning the left side limits after you run a straight keyword search might help you pinpoint  you "where" the scholarly conversation is clustering (history, Asian studies, urban studies, etc.). 

One downside of JSTOR: it typically excludes the most recent 1-5 years of the publications it includes (with some exceptions). That means you may want to supplement / update with  in HOLLIS,  Google Scholar, or one of the subject databases listed below.

Google Scholar

Why:  GS searches differently from most library databases, including HOLLIS. In addition to searching "metadata" (lots of descriptive info about a book or article, it also searches full-text . This can be an additional 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. 

It's also an excellent way to follow CITATION TRAILS. Enter the title of a book or journal article and then click on "Cited by" when the item appears. 


America: History and Life

The premier database for coverage of North America (U.S. and Canada), prehistory to the present.  Latin American and World history is covered in Historical Abstracts. 

Historical Abstracts

The premier database for world history ,1450-present.  Excludes the U.S.  and Canada, both of which are treated in a companion database, America History and Life.


 Worldwide Political Science Abstracts 

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. 

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.

HEIN Online (law)

The premier database for U.S., foreign, and international law.  An excellent place to look for legislation and law reviews, among other things. 


Sociological Abstracts

A core resource for researchers, professionals, and students working in sociology, social planning and policy, and many related disciplines. It draws its contents from more than 1800 journals, relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews and other media.

A more encompassing search --across other social sciences areas like Education, Criminology, and Anthropology can be done in Social Science Premium Collection 


CIAO [Columbia International Affairs Online]

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.

Think Tank Search

A customized Google Search from the Harvard Kennedy School for policy perspectives.

Policy File 

Provides access to timely, updated information from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities. Over 75 public policy topics are covered, from foreign policy to domestic policy.  

IGO Custom Search Engine 

Searches web content of intergovernmental agencies. including the U.N.

NGO Custom Search Engine  

Searches web content of non-governmental organizations for perspectives from civil society.

Subject Bibliographies, Literature Reviews, Methods Sources


The Oxford Bibliographies Online 

Sometimes, the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but overabundance. How do you know what to read? Which voices have been most important to the scholarly conversation or set a new direction in research? 

An OBO entry might solve the problem. Compiled by experts in a field, each OBO entry is curated reading list annotated reading list of influential studies on a broad topic, with some annotation and evaluation.

SMART TIP: Use HOLLIS to identify your access to materials identified in OBO entries. 

Sample Entries Targeted to Student Interests:



Literature reviews are among the scholar's stock in trade, They not only summarize discoveries, findings, and trends in research, but also evaluate and contextualize that research. Usually they will identify the still-unanswered questions, describe contested areas of knowledge, and suggest new directions or perspectives that the research should take.

Literature reviews come in a variety of forms: 


1. The Literature Review as Stand-Alone Essay

The best known example of this types is probably the Annual Reviews series. Since 1932, it has published authoritative syntheses of research undertaken in 46 academic fields, including political sciencesociologyanthropology, and public health. Essays always center on an important topic/area of investigation or study, survey what's known, what's settled, what's contested, and what should come next.  

2. The Imbedded Literature Review

A literature review, even when it's not specifically called out as such, may be hiding in plain sight.  Examples:

  • The introductory chapter of a monograph (single-authored book) or essay collection will often review scholarship that has come before and influenced the present discussion in some way. 
  • A recent dissertation can be a gold mine for an extended literature review. Try our ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database.
  • A handbook or companion on your topic (or the nearest equivalent to your topic). Oxford Handbooks Online and Cambridge Companions are two famous and well-respected examples of this genre, but there are other good publishing houses  producing handbooks, too. Sometimes, just adding the keyword handbook (or companion) to a HOLLIS search will surface one or more titles you can examine.

3. Historiography: the literature review in special disciplinary terms

This is the term of art, in history and its subfields, for what is essentially a literature review -- a study of how historians, over time, have approached a particular question, phenomenon, event, etc.  Sometimes adding the keyword historiography (or historiograph* )to a search in HOLLIS, Google Scholar, or one of our library databases will help surface an essay of this type.





Sage Research Methods Online

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.


Library Experts by Language/Subject Speciality


ASIA and SOUTH-EAST ASIA (Shayan, Paul)



  • Diane Sredl, Data Reference Librarian, Services for Academic Programs, Harvard College Library 


  • George Clark,  Library Liaison to Environmental Studies and Public Policy


  • Odile Harter, Library Liaison to Romance Languages (French and Italian)


HISTORY (Min,Tahina)









Student Leads, Fall 2022


Note to students:  Personalized suggestions should be considered additional resources to those listed above in this guide. 

Assume that if your topic is historically focused on the U.S., for example, you'll also have to use America History and Life; that if it has a political focus, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts will be essential; that if you're seeking materials of an IGO (UN) or an NGO, you'll use the links to custom search engines we've provided -- and so forth. 

Research will require you to forage widely in the search environments available to you. 







  • HEIN Online [see if this search gets you started: "limited liability" AND adoption AND mexico NOT "new mexico"]










Tips for Locating Full-Text Articles


1. 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.  

2. Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  


3.The Harvard Library Bookmark: a browser extension you can create; it's essentially an alternative to the Lean Library plugin. Directions for creating it are here:



Organizing Research with Zotero:

 Zoteroa 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:

In the Fall, librarians will offer training sessions, including online ones.  Watch the guide for dates and time (probably announced late August).