How to do research in the History of Science

Library resources for researchers working on the history of medicine, psychology, botany, physics and other sciences


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general, multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier.

Add keywords like this to your search:

  • Topic words- "colonial medicine," "African diaspora," "yellow fever"
  • Geographic terms- Texas or Brazil
  • Time periods or events- Georgian, (1970s OR Seventies), "World War II"

Upgrade your search: Key databases

The best tool for your search may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

Web of Science (1900-) (via HarvardKey) is a comprehensive collection of articles in all areas of science, including social. A key feature allows you to track the scholarly conversation by linking from an article to other articles that have cited it.

PubMed (1947-) (via HarvardKey) is the largest, most widely used index of medical literature. It's an excellent source for both primary and secondary sources in the History of Medicine.

Dig Deeper

The Introduction to the History of Science guide provides many different access points into the study of the various fields within the History of Science.


Fred Burchsted is the library liaison to the History of Science. He is available to support researchers by email or with personal (zoom or in person) one-on-one consultations.

Related FAQs

How to Do Research in History

Service Alert:
  • Some Harvard Library locations will be closed or have special hours for Commencement, Thursday, May 26. Please check the Library Hours page for specifics. Ask a Librarian and chat hours will remain as usual.
  • Most Harvard Library locations will be closed Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Ask a Librarian and chat service will be closed on these dates.
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.



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

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