This research guide has been designed for students in The Gothic, an advanced academic writing class in the humanities, taught by Pat Bellanca.
The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find the information you'll need to execute your second essay successfully. See them simply as starting points for your research into a story or novel that picks up on important course themes.
Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. Language will be essential to the effort. You may need to try several combinations of search terms, in fact, before you strike gold.
Let me know how I can help as your work gets underway. We can triage by email or set up a time to meet on Zoom for a longer talk about your project.
Enjoy your work!
Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Writing Programs, Lamont Library
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.
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 up to two chapters of any Harvard-owned book digitized for your use.
NOTE: Initiate Scan and Deliver requests through HOLLIS.
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.
Normally, yes, because the "curated content" HOLLIS offers you is specifically geared toward the Harvard community that you now belong to.
That means it's been chosen carefully and vetted in one way or another by other scholars, by the publishing houses from which it originates, by the organizations and companies we purchase it from on your behalf, and by the specially trained library experts who are continually building up Harvard's collection.
Some of it might appear in a Google Scholar search, but a good portion of it is premium content that would never appear in search results on the free and open web.
Image above: Poe, etching by Henrí Emiie Lefort.
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, and folklore.
In other words: if a Literature Department teaches it, you'll find it covered here.
Searches differently than the MLA bibliography, by including full-text. This 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 incorporates more types of information -- not just books and journal contents-- and depending on your need, comfort level, and perspective, that eclecticism can be an advantage.
It's also an excellent way to follow CITATION TRAILS. Enter the title of a book or journal article and then click on "Cited by" when the item appears. If the cited references are very numerous, consider keyword searching with them.
SMART SEARCHING 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 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.
The OED has been "the last word on words for over a century" -- the authoritative source on the English language.
It provides you with the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.
As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find present-day meanings in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.
In the OED, You can find out when and where words are known to have first appeared, when they changed meanings, when some meanings became obsolete, when words disappeared entirely from usage.