The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find scholarly information to inform your final essays and capstone projects.
Remember that good research often begins with hunches and hypotheses: about where an academic conversation is "happening," and about what words and search strings might surface it. Good researching is also about being observant as you consider where else (or to what else) your initial reading may lead you. And good research is all about patience: you may need to try several combinations of search terms before you strike gold.
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 20years.
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).
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 copyrright), 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)
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.
What does a Browse search give you? Click on the image above to find out!
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.
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.
The first and still most widely known full-text journal database, trusted for its content. JSTOR covers core scholarly journals in 75 fields.
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."
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.
Covers the international literature in the social sciences, so this database allows you to search across fields like politics, sociology, anthropology, criminology and education.
Perfectly acceptable for most general forays into scholarship, its algorithms are excellent and do return relevant results. This database searches full-text, which 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 is 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.
One simple change can turn Google Scholar into what's effectively another multidisciplinary 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 home 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.
Using the right side limits, adjust the DATE PARAMETERS of your search results. Items that were published on the subject during the period you specify will qualify as primary sources.
Using the right side limits, examine the FORM/GENRE categories. Items that have been tagged with words like "interviews," "autobiography," "memoir," "speeches," "photographs," "correspondence" (and so on) might help you target various kinds of primary sources.
Look for a biography of the individual or social reform movement you're interested in. Full-length biographies are chock full of primary source references -- from shopping lists to letters to contemporary reviews and perceptions. Some of these will be in archives and impossible for you to reach given the constraints of the term; others will be republished and can be easily obtained for you by other means.
A large, full-text collection of English language news sources -- state, national, and international. Coverage begins (roughly) around 1980 for most of these sources. This database has nice features: the ability to search transcripts of TV and radio broadcasts, for example, and to limit to editorial and opinion pages.
Consider this e-resource as your best alternative to NexisUni. Owned by the Dow Jones company, Factiva allows you to search across 8000 or so news publications from the U.S. and around the world.
Full-text coverage sometimes extends further back than the 1980 cut-off point for Lexis-Nexis. Factiva allows for broad searching (but change the date parameters if your topic stretches back more than 3 months!). Results are nicely subdivided into categories on the left side of the screen for easier navigation.
For topics that were in the news earlier than 1980, this suite of databases (which includes the digitized content of important papers like th NYT, Boston Globe, LA Times, Washington Post (and more) is the obvious choice.
1995 is something of an arbitrary date marker; how much recent content you get in a historical newspaper database can vary from newspaper title to newspaper title.
But in general, if you think "older" news (25 years), think Proquest Historical first.
Algerié (ECPAD, Agence d'Images de la Defensé)
Child Soldiers (Internet Archive: film footage, interviews, recorded testimony, etc.)
Homeland Security Digital Library (limit by "publisher" -- i.e., government department or agency; by resource type; and more)
ProQuest Civil War: primary source materials which feature selected newspapers (from northern, southern, and border states) and pamphlets on slavery, abolition, and the war.
Homeland Security Digital Library: limit by "publisher" -- i.e., government department or agency; by resource type (CRS reports are helpful as these are issue briefs for Congress), etc.
Women's Magazine Archive (late 19th century - c. 2005)
Women's Studies (ProQuest History Vault)
World War I Centennial, National Archives (UK)