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
Since 1932, the Annual Reviews series has offered authoritative syntheses of the primary research literature in 46 academic fields, including political science, sociology, anthropology, and public health.
A search of Annual Reviews can therefore help you easily identify—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field. The comprehensive critical review not only summarizes a topic but also roots out errors of fact or concept and provokes discussion that will lead to new research activity.
The advanced search screen offers excellent search tips, including ways select certain AR titles or limit to particular disciplines and narrow by date.
SMART SEARCHING TIP: If you find a review that seems on point, but rather dated (10 years or so), try searching for it (or one of the authorities it cites) in Google Scholar. Then follow the “cited by” links. You may discover something more recent there.
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.
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.
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).
Your "default" approach to searching Harvard's catalog, HOLLIS, is probably similar to your Google approach: enter some words, see what comes up, then try again or improve from there.
But BROWSING in the catalog is an under-appreciated research strategy, especially when you're trying to discover your interest. It helps you see how writing ABOUT an author, an idea, an event, etc. has been broken down and categorized. So instead of getting the typical list of titles, you see results in terms of sub-topics. Inspiration may lie there!
HOW DO YOU BROWSE?
Open HOLLIS. Click on the link above the search box. Then select SUBJECT.
Examples of subject terms in action (click to see subdivisions of each topic):
TRANSFERABLE KNOWLEDGE TIP: Words Always Matter
Browsing subject headings lists can teach you a lot about searching, because they rely on standardized language and standard ways of qualifying or further describing a give subject.
For example, additional words may be used to precisely define a subject's geography:
united states | massachusetts | Gambia (etc)
Sometimes, a specific marker of the type of information is also included in a subject heading:
statistics | legislation | handbooks | case studies | biography| history | fiction (etc.)
SOME WAYS TO FIND THEM in HOLLIS
RESOURCES IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Despite the fact that our physical items are unavailable and buildings are shuttered, HOLLIS can and should continue to be a key research resource, wherever students are. 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
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, a portion of a book (and now, a portion of a special collection, under some circumstances). Just remember that the library staff responsible for this service are returning to campus slowly, so the response time (usually within 4 days) may be delayed.
NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.
If HathiTrust 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.
Hathi Trust 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.
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)
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), 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.
Moreover, because you are a Harvard student, you're eligible for a BPL ecard, no matter where you're Zooming in from these days; you'll need to sign in with your Harvard email and key to get access, however. See BPL: Who's Eligible for an Ecard for the registration link.
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; even in COVID times, it's good to check on your options.
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.
This database might be an excellent next step after you've sampled what's available 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.
Depending on your topic, searching in ASP may even be a more efficient route to quality information simply because it will deliver a more manageable result set.
For those times when ASP might seem broader than deep the longer list of EBSCOhost subject databases that the Harvard Libraries subscribes to.
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.
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.
HSDL is the nation’s premier collection of documents related to homeland security policy, strategy, and organizational management. The HSDL is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
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
CURRENT REGIONAL NEWS (Examples)
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.
Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.
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.
ECONOMICS AND DATA
HISTORY AND HISTORY OF SCIENCE
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY
SPANISH LANGUAGE RESOURCES
Anna Assogba, Liaison to Romance Languages and Literature