On September 22, in our first Zoom meeting, we focused on generating questions, finding research leads, and understanding the contexts -- the intellectual stakes -- of ideas under study, discussion, and debate. We began with case studies from CQ Researcher, and ended with Google Scholar, as we shifted toward entering the academic research conversation.
This guide is intended to help with the next stage of research: what Zora Neale Hurston described as "formalized curiosity ... poking and prying with a purpose." * It identifies some thinking strategies and key databases for getting that work done.
Reach out anytime with questions! We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet for a longer consultation on Zoom.
Sue Gilroy Research Librarian, Lamont Library
*Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road (1942), chapter 10
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.
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.
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. The key here is to 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).
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: 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.
5. If you live close by the college or university from which you graduated, ask about ALUMNI PRIVILEGES there
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.
Screen Studies (ProQuest)
A comprehensive survey of current publications related to film scholarship alongside detailed and expansive filmographies. This collection includes FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals, which is a premier resource for authoritative scholarly literature, while also canvassing some non-scholarly publications (magazines and trade publications).
Social Science Premium Collection (ProQuest)
With an aim to facilitate cross-disciplinary research, SSPC combines, in one place, the contents of several of the most important databases for of the social sciences, and covering bid disciplinary areas like sociology, anthropology politics, and more.
Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
This database can be a good next step once you've explored content available in HOLLIS, particularly if you feel overwhelmed -- or sometimes, underwhelmed -- by the journal and article search results you've uncovered there.
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, so you might see your topic treated from a number of disciplinary angles or through a variety of theoretical lenses.
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.
Lean Library: If you use Chrome, this helpful browser extension can automatically detect when you are on a website that contains content the library subscribes to and will offer you access.
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.