Research Tips

Get plugged in. Make sure you are logged into HOLLIS before you start researching- this will ensure you have access to electronic resources. You may also want to install Lean Library or the Check Harvard Library Bookmark. If you need to use software provided by Harvard, you may need to logged into Harvard VPN. Ensure your computer and the data you generate are saved and secure at all times on the Get Started page. 

Find inspiration and information on a potential research topic in different ways. 

  • Read papers by key researchers in your field for additional resources and papers on your topic. Find papers and articles on the Identify & Explore page.
  • Review past course syllabi for any assigned readings or books that may be related to your potential topic using Harvard’s Syllabus Explorer
  • Review Library research guides for research strategies in your field or topic with Harvard's Research Guides or through another institution's library guides via a Google search.
  • Search broadly through HOLLIS, Google and Google Scholar for papers, image collections, datasets and other resources.  
  • Connect with Library and Other Research Staff: Harvard’s Library Liaisons, Librarians for First-Year Students and Peer Library Fellows. Or schedule “research consultations” to talk about possible research resources and topics and how to navigate them optimally on the Get Help page. 
  • Reach out to faculty, advisors, and peers in your field of interest or concentration.   

Build your virtual “research team”. As you think about your interests and are navigating the waters of remote resources and research, consider building your “research team”. Team members can advise you on how best to navigate resources, how to get started in research, and how to manage challenging points in your research. These members can be anyone from mentoring faculty, librarians, peers within your concentration, graduate students, concentration advisors, and more. Though members of this team can and will ultimately change over time as your interests evolve, having people who you know can guide you, knowing how and where to find these individuals, and asking them for help - are critical steps in your research journey. Never be afraid to ask faculty, librarians, concentration advisors,  directors/assistant directors of undergraduate study, graduate student mentors, House tutors, PAFs, proctors and peers for help in your research process! 

Stay connected to the scholarly community. Whether you're already pursuing an independent research project or just starting to learn about how research is done, it is important to be connected with the research community at Harvard. Subscribe to mailing lists/list servs for research centers of interest, departments, and offices that offer research opportunities and advice. Beyond Harvard, explore professional organization webpages for your field of interest (via Google) to find out more about how members of the field do research and stay up-to-date on the latest research. 

Cultivate your “remote” resilience and take care. Long hours of reading dense material, analyzing data, and making notes on computer screens can get exhausting and feel isolating. 

Intersperse your study and research with short breaks and activities that restore your energy and keep you motivated.

  • Do something active or creative that you enjoy like yoga, stretching, drawing, journaling etc. 
  • Connect with friends and family via phone (not by screen if possible.) 
  • Declutter your study space. 
  • Practice breathing and meditation.   
  • Join or create your own accountability groups to keep you on track to completing research and study goals. For other tips on how to learn and study remotely or to connect with academic coaches and peer tutors, see the Academic Resource Center's website.
  • Do not hesitate to reach out to resident deans, House tutors, PAFs, and mental health counselors of Harvard’s Counseling and Mental Health Services and Behavioral Health if you are in need. All are available to you remotely to help you take good care in this remote environment.