Why Use Them?

HOLLIS searching encourages a panoramic, "wide gaze" approach to research Research projects, however 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 image of camera with different colored lenses 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.

The Gold Standard Databases for Literature

MLA International Bibliography (EBSCOhost): The most important academic database for deep searching of the scholarship produced about all periods of literature (and in all languages). It also has strong and substantial coverage of scholarship on film, popular culture, folklore,and film. If a Literature Department teaches it, you'll find it covered here.

Multidisciplinary Databases Beyond HOLLIS

Academic Search Premier:  an excellent database to rummage around in after you've sampled what articles are available -- or seem to be surfacing first -- in  a HOLLIS "everything" search.

Academic Search Premier is also multidisciplinary in its coverage and also provides you with a range of article types (some scholarly, some not). It draws its information mainly from journals, though you may find book reviews, the occasional dissertation, and magazine and news articles in your results list.

But while still broad, it's a smaller universe than HOLLIS, and depending on your topic, searching in ASP may seem more manageable

Google Scholar

Familiar and current, it also searches full-text, which makes it different from the other databases (including HOLLIS) on this guide. 

Full-text searching 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 is perfectly acceptable for most general forays into scholarship; its algorithms are excellent and do return relevant results.

Pro TIP:

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 at the new menu that now displays on the left side of the screen. Choose LIBRARY LINKS.
  • Then type Harvard University into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.