Welcome to the Harvard Library

Congratulations on choosing to write a senior thesis! This guide brings together resources and information to help you as you work though the thesis research and writing process.

Finding a Researchable Question

What is Already Known


Handbooks are a stock-in-trade for academic researchers. Typically, they're edited volumes, with chapters written by authorities -- or recognized experts, and they synthesize current "consensus" thinking around a particular topic, the most widely accepted perspectives on a topic  They usually contain extensive bibliography which you can mine as well.

 

Current Trends & Questions


Literature reviews are essays that help you easily understand—and contextualize—the principal contributions that have been made in your field. They not only track trends over time in the scholarly discussions of a topic, but also synthesize and connect related work. They cite the trailblazers and sometimes the outliers, and they even root out errors of fact or concept. Typically, they include a final section that identifies remaining questions or future directions research might take.

Among the databases for finding literature reviews, we recommend you start with:

  • Annual Reviews offers comprehensive collections of critical reviews by leading scholars.
  • Web of Science can be a powerful tool in uncovering literature reviews. 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.
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online provides scholarly annotated bibliographies leading you to key sources on topics in the social sciences and humanities.

 

Prioritizing My Reading
 

  • Oxford Bibliographies Online combine the best features of the annotated bibliography with an authoritative subject encyclopedia. Entries identify key contributions to a topic, idea, person, or event and indicate the value of the work. 

Finding Scholarly Resources in Your Field

Research Guide:


Key Databases:


Library Research Contact:

Susan Gilman, Librarian for Tozzer Library

Research Guide:

Key Databases:


Library Research Contact:

Diane Sredl, Data Reference Librarian

Research Guide:

Key Databases:


Library Research Contact:

Fred Burchsted, Research Librarian

Anna Assogba, Research Librarian

Research Guide:


Key Databases:

Library Research Contact:

Kathleen Sheehan, Research Librarian

Research Guide:


Key Databases:


Library Research Contact:

Kathleen Sheehan, Research Librarian

Social Studies tends to be so interdisciplinary that it's sometimes hard to offer students  a "one-size fits all" starting point.  

Research Guides:

  • Research Guides for Social Studies 98 (junior tutorials) may also cover -- broadly speaking -- an area of interest and you may find some leads there. But the 1:1 consult often can't be beat for  locating the databases and the primary sources that are  best suited to your project! 


Key Databases:

Library Research Contact:

Sue Gilroy, Liaison to Social Studies, Lamont Library

Research Guide:


Key Database:


Library Research Contact:

Kathleen Sheehan, Research Librarian

Michael Leach, Head, Collection Development, Cabot Library

Helpful Library Services & Tools

Credits

The contents of this Guide are drawn largely from other Guides authored by Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Writing Programs and Liaison to Social Studies.