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A Master Class in Research

Graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars attended this three-day workshop series on mastering the tools needed to become a more resourceful and creative researcher.


Photo courtesy of Reed Lowrie.

“I wanted to send a heartfelt note of gratitude to the entire team for creating a program that opened paths of possibilities for intrepid researchers,” wrote a participant of a recent Harvard Library workshop on enhancing scholarly research skills. The three-day class held in January, entitled “The Whole Hog: A Nose-to-Tail Library Master Class,” attracted scholars from across the University, including the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Division of Continuing Education, Graduate School of Design, and Graduate School of Education.

The workshop series was designed to immerse attendees in a full range of research processes and to provide a strong foundation for lifelong scholarly practices. “Databases 101” helped develop skills for diving into unfamiliar databases and making the most of advanced search features. “Find It & Research Management” offered advanced strategies for tracking down materials, as well as note-taking, research management tools and techniques, and considerations around publishing, copyright, and open access. “Beyond Text” introduced scholars to a wide of array of non-textual materials—including data, maps, images, and audio—and their use in research. In “All About Archives,” hands-on activities taught participants careful handling of materials, deciphering of descriptive aids, and search strategies. The sessions combined analog research methods with online resources.

“Quite simply, it was incredibly helpful just to be reminded from so many library staff members that they are there to help, and to not be afraid to reach out,” wrote another participant. More than 20 instructors from the library’s Research, Teaching, and Learning units were involved in the design and teaching process, along with representatives from Special Collections, the Office for Scholarly Communication, the Bureau of Study Counsel, the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and the Peabody Museum.

The participants’ tremendous enthusiasm through 12 hours of instruction and team-focused exercises reinforced the importance of the Library’s core research teaching and learning services. “Many researchers singled out ‘librarians’ as the most valuable aspect of the workshop—getting to see our enthusiasm and willingness to help, learning more about our expertise, and feeling supported in their research,” said Reed Lowrie, manager of Reference and Information Services at Cabot, Lamont, and Widener, and one of the event’s organizers, along with Emilie Hardman, Odile Harter, Ramona Islam, and Michael Leach.

Included among the feedback from the workshop was a note: “Thank you for a life-changing three days!” 

Article written by Harvard Library Communications.

Article published on February 10, 2016.