What does “relevance” mean in HOLLIS? How is that calculated?

HOLLIS, like most databases, defaults to sorting results by something called “relevance.” Each database has its own proprietary formula, but generally, HOLLIS favors results that meet criteria such as: 

  • Recent publication date
  • High number of matches to your search terms in the HOLLIS record
  • Matches to your search terms in the author, title, and subject fields
  • For articles, peer-reviewed or highly-cited articles

If you enter a person's name, HOLLIS will favor items written by that person over items about that person. HOLLIS also guesses whether you’re trying to search for a specific citation (as opposed to a general topic), and adjusts results accordingly.

More details available in the vendor knowledge base.

Have another HOLLIS question? Our HOLLIS User Guide provides an overview of HOLLIS's features and functions.

Service Alert:
  • Ask a Librarian, including chat and email, will be suspended on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24. Regular service hours will resume on Saturday. .
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during this time, please report it to Library Technology Services.



Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm



Sunday 12noon-7pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.