The resources and strategies described on this page are designed to support Professor Steven Boomhower's graduate proseminar. We hope to support your various information needs.
And please feel free to contact me. I'm happy to help you through email or through a Zoom meeting,
Jonathan Paulo Online Learning and Reference Librarian
OBOs combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia in order to help you identify some of the most important and influential scholarship on a broad social, political, cultural or interdisciplinary topic. They're regularly updated to remain current.
Often the issue in information-seeking isn't scarcity of material but overabundance. OBO entries can help you solve the problem of knowing what or who to read or which voices in the conversation you should give some fuller attention to.
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.
Don't be put off by the name of this resource: the social sciences (and humanities) are also well-represented in this multidisciplinary database of over 20,000 journals. Results display by default in reverse chronological order, but you can resort them by relevance if that better suits your purposes.
A keyword topic search in Web of Science, much like HOLLIS, will return results that you can then sift through using a variety of left-side filter categories.
Under document type, look for the review option. Selecting it will help you quickly uncover essays that sum up and synthesize research trends and breakthroughs and to trace citation trails (the "web" of interconnected scholarly conversations).
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.)
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 West 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.
A core resource for researchers, professionals, and students working in the interdisciplinary social sciences. In addition to citations, abstracts, and (often) full-text of 2400 journal titles, this database will also identify relevant dissertations, selected books and book chapters, and association papers, as well as citations for book reviews.
SMART SEARCHING TIPS:
Given its purpose, the SSPC, much like HOLLIS, can return result sets that seem enormous. But you have options to control what you see:
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. That said, given what ASP includes in its database, result sets can sometimes have more breadth than scholarly depth.
This databases overs core scholarly journals in 75 fields. Some of its content is open access and easily discoverable on the web; some is made available only because of your Harvard affiliation and the library's subscription to JSTOR; the most recent issues of journals may not even appear in a JSTOR search, however, if they are behind the database's 1-5 year "moving wall."
DOCUMENT DELIVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO YOU:
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 a single chapter of a Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.
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.