This guide is intended to help you to get started using the Harvard Library collections and services.  If you have questions about the Library or would like assistance when conducting your research, please contact me.  I would be happy to hear from you.

Kathleen Sheehan
Research Librarian,
Liaison to the Departments of Government,
Psychology, and Sociology 

Helpful Research Tools and Services

This is a group of tools and services to help you conduct your research more efficiently.

  • Ask a Librarian is our virtual reference service.  If you have a question about the libraries, you can reach us through this service.
  • The Research Management and Citation Tools guide provides information about tools that enable you to collect and to organize your sources and to quickly format bibliographies.
  • Install the Check Harvard Library Bookmark to get quick access to material licensed by Harvard Library.
  • Download the Browzine app to browse e-journals from the Harvard collection by subject and to save favorites to a virtual bookshelf. The app can be used on mobile devices or on laptops and desktops.
  • Submit a Collections Purchase Request if there is material that you need for your research which the Harvard Library does not own.
  • Request a Widener Study Carrel if you would like a designated place to do your work in the Widener stacks. Request a Widener Hold Shelf Assignment if you would simply prefer to have a place to keep library materials you are using for your research.
  • Scan & Deliver is a free, electronic document delivery service that enables Harvard students, faculty and staff to request pdf's of journal articles or book chapters from the Library's collections. Requests are placed through the HOLLIS. You will receive an email with a link to the pdf within four days.
  • Use Borrow Direct to request a book not currently available at Harvard. If one of the libraries in this network has the item, you should receive it within four days.  If the item is not available through Borrow Direct, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan request to borrow it from a broader network of libraries.
  • Harvard Library Research Guides,  created and maintained by librarians throughout the Harvard Library, provide assistance with finding library materials, searching electronic and print collections, citing sources and more.

Finding Scholarship

E-books & Texts

  • Sage Research Methods enables researchers to explore quantitative and qualitative research methods in the social sciences.
  • Social Theory provides access to influential writings on the most important trends in the field of sociology since the 18th century.
  • Cambridge Core is the unified platform for Cambridge University Press books and journals
  • Very Short Introductions from Oxford University Press, offers concise introductions to a wide range of subjects including aging, American immigration, diaspora, and feminism.

Literature Reviews & Annotated Bibliographies

Journal Articles

There are hundreds of journal indexes to which the Harvard libraries subscribe.  One way to find which indexes cover the journals in a particular field is to search by subject in Find E-Resources.

Key Databases in Sociology

  • Sociological Abstracts is a core resource for researchers in sociology, social planning/policy, and related disciplines. It includes citations and abstracts from over 1800 journals, relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews and other media.
  • ProQuest Social Sciences Premium is an index and full text database on the social sciences, including politics, sociology and education from over 500 important social science journals.
  • Annual Review of Sociology provides comprehensive, timely collections of critical reviews written by leading scholars. The reviews cover the current understanding of a topic, its historical context and the major questions that remain to be answered.
  • ERIC Index is a major resource for research in all areas of education. ERIC annually indexes articles from over 800 journals as well as 13,000 documents (conference papers, research reports, state, selected books, etc.) Produced by the US Department of Education.

Multidisciplinary Databases

  • JSTOR an archive of important scholarly journals. Content is primarily in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Dissertations and Theses Full Text indexes dissertations and masters' theses from most North American graduate schools as well as some European universities. Provides full text for most indexed dissertations from 1990-present.
  • Social Science Research Network is a collaborative website devoted to the rapid dissemination of research in the social sciences.
  • Web of Science is a multidisciplinary database covering the journal literature of the social sciences. It indexes 3,300 major journals across more than 50 disciplines.  You can also search the databases for articles that cite a known author or work.

Databases in Related Fields

  • America History & Life is the primary index to the scholarly literature in the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present, covering over 2,000 journals published worldwide. Historical Abstracts indexes over 2,000 journals on the history of the world from 1450 to the present.
  • Anthropology Plus is the most comprehensive, index of materials from the late 1800s to today in the fields of social, cultural, physical, biological, and linguistic anthropology; ethnology, and related fields.
  • Applied Social Sciences Index & Abstract (ASSIA) spans the literature of health, social services, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, race relations and education in over 500 journals, from more than 16 countries.
  • Econlit is a comprehensive index with selected abstracts of the world's economic literature, produced by the American Economic Association. It includes coverage of over 600 journals as well as articles in collective volumes, book reviews and dissertations.
  • PAIS indexes the public and social policy literature of public administration, political science, economics, finance, international relations, law, and health care.
  • PsycINFO indexes and provides abstracts for over 1800 journals,  produced by the APA.


At Harvard

When you are looking for books and articles on a topic, use the default search in HOLLIS, which is a keyword search. Once you have done a search, note the "facets" on the right side of the page. Selecting a facet enables you to narrow your search by language, source type, subject, etc.

Beyond Harvard

For books not currently available at Harvard, you make a request through Borrow Direct.

  • If one of the libraries in this network has the book, you should receive it within 4 days. 
  • If the book is not available through Borrow Direct or the item is an article, you can submit an Interlibrary Loan request to borrow it from a broader network of libraries, which takes an average of 2 weeks.

If you find an item in another library that you think the Harvard Library should own, you can submit a Collections Purchase Request.

Finding Data

Your best source of assistance for data-related questions will likely depend on the type of data you need. Diane Sredl is the Data Reference Librarian in the Lamont Library and a great point of contact and guide to the resources (govdocs@fas.harvard.edu).

Here are a few research guides created by Harvard librarians to assist you with finding data:

Journal Ranking Resources

  • Journal Citation Reports - A resource for journal evaluation, using citation data drawn from over 8,400 journals from over 3,000 publishers worldwide.
  • Google Scholar - Metrics - A tool for scholars "to quickly gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications". It gives you the option to search publications in broad categories and more specific subcategories. To get started, click on the options button in the upper left corner of the Google Scholar home screen and select Metrics. To get to the screen where you can search by Categories, select the View Top Publications link at the bottom of the screen. You will then see a Categories drop-down menu above the publications list.
  • SJR: Scimago Journal & Country Rank - A publicly available portal that includes the journals and country scientific indicators developed from the information contained in the Scopus® database (Elsevier B.V.).
  • For additional information, see the Research Impact Metrics Guide from the Univeristy of Michigan Library and Measuring Your Scholarly Impact from the Harvard Kennedy School Library.