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Literature of the Pacific: Research Strategies

A guide to online and print sources related primarily to indigenous Pacific literature

Useful Subject Headings

Use these subject headings to narrow your search in Voyager, via a "Subject Begins With" search in Basic search mode. For a more general list of useful Pacific-related subject headings, click here:

 Islands of the Pacific--In literature

Oceania -- in literature

Pacific Island literature--History and criticism

Pacific Island literature (English)

Pacific Islands poetry (English)

Narrow searches further by island group:

Papua New Guinean literature (English)

Solomon Islands poetry (English)

and etc.

For works about a specific author, use "Subject Begins With" by author's last name: 

Holt, John Dominis

Wendt, Albert

and etc.

OneSearch Mānoa

OneSearch includes the UH Voyager Catalog plus a huge index of academic journals on most topics. Also includes conference papers, maps, government documents, music scores, DVDs, archives & manuscripts, and more. OneSearch does not find everything that the library has, but it is a useful starting point for looking for a wide variety of material.

Basic Research Checklist

Generally speaking, all Hawaiʻi- and Pacific-related library research follows the same steps, in this order: 1) Search Voyager; 2) Search the Hawaii-Pacific Journal Index (HPJI); 3) search databases specific to your topic. The below outlines an overview process meant to get you started; in this context, Google Scholar and Google Books can be powerful supplements to Voyager and HPJI; however, when it comes time to doing a literature search for a Masterʻs Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation, be aware that Google Scholar/Books donʻt capture everything there is -- particularly in the realm of Hawaiʻi and the broader Pacific, where a huge portion of the relevant material has not yet been digitized (and may never be).

1. Voyager

  • Voyager should be your first stop whenever beginning a new research project. It holds the record for every item (books, journals, newspapers, microfilms, videos, audio recordings, manuscript collections and etc.) in every library in the UH system, from Hilo to Kauaʻi. Generally speaking, Voyager allows you to search for materials by title, author, publisher and subject. It does NOT generally allow you to search for the titles of articles within journals or the titles / authors of chapters within books (there are other strategies for these kinds of searches ... see below). There are occasional exceptions to this rule -- some book contents are listed in Voyager records; some journal articles have been cataloged separately in Voyager by title -- but as a rule of thumb when starting your research, assume that you are going to be searching for title, author or subject.
  • Before you start searching, it's a good idea to log into the Voyager system, which you can do by clicking on the "Login to your account" link in the upper right hand of the Voyager search screen. This will not only save you a step when you begin requesting books, but also allows you to save your search results for future reference (very important when it comes time to cite your references in a paper).
  • The simplest way to begin searching is via a keyword search. In the "Basic" mode, simply type some words that you think might describe your needs (for instance, Pacific literature) and hit search. This will give you a broad sampling of materials, some of which should be related to your topic. When you find something that is of interest, look at the "Subjects" field -- you can click on these links to find other materials that are on the same topic.
  • Subject searching is a more focused means of navigating in Voyager. Because it is a "controlled vocabulary" it is also less forgiving than keyword searching. If you already know your subject headings, use them in the Basic Search mode, as a "Subject Browse" search. (See the box at left for a list of useful subject headings dealing with Hawaii and Pacific literature). If you are unsure of the exact subject heading, go to Advanced Search mode and use the "Subject Keyword" search -- this search will bring up all titles with the subject headings that contain the keywords you use. (Note that a basic keyword search will also search all subject headings; by using a subject keyword search you are essentially narrowing down the basic keyword search by limiting it strictly to the subject headings field.)

TIP: When searching for books BY a specific author, use the "Author (Last Name First)" search in Basic mode; when looking for books ABOUT an author, use the Subject Browse search in Basic mode (use last name first in this search as well).

2. Hawaii-Pacific Journal Index (HPJI)

  • As mentioned above, Voyager searches for the titles of journals, but it does not generally search for titles of articles within journals. Hawaii-Pacific Journal Index is one way to "look inside" journals. It is not a full-text database, but it does allows you to search the contents of more than 130 scholarly journals and "popular press" magazines published in or about Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. Most of these are not indexed anywhere else in the world. All of the searching in HPJI is by keyword, and covers the article title, journal title, author, journal date, and an abstract/summary of each article.
  • The three most useful searches in HPJI are Keyword Anywhere, Author Name and Journal Name. In most cases, it is best to use the "advanced search" mode, rather than the "basic search," which is less flexible.

  • With a few exceptions, most of the magazines and journals indexed in the HPJI are only available in print; all are held by the Hawaiʻi and Pacific Collections in UHM library. Once you find an article in HPJI, look at the holdings information -- if there is an electronic version available (such as for Contemporary Pacific or the Journal of the Polynesian Society) a link should appear in the HPJI record. Otherwise, you will need to go back into the Voyager database, search for the journal title in basic search mode, and then use "Get This Item" to request the specific journal the article appears in.

  • When working in HPJI, it's a good idea to have two windows open so that you can run HPJI and Voyager simultaneously; once you've found something in HPJI, you can then jump to Voyager to request the journal. Remember to save the publishing information (article title, journal title, issue date, page numbers) for all items you request: A year's worth of journals are often bound together; if you don't have this information with you when you come to look at the journal, you will waste a lot of time flipping through hundreds of pages looking for your article.

3. Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar is another useful means of searching inside scholarly journals, and you will often find material here that is not indexed in HPJI (because Hawaiʻi and Pacific scholars will sometimes publish articles in journals that are not specifically about Hawaiʻi or the Pacific).Be cautioned however that the opposite is also true: Many of the journals indexed in HPJI have not been scanned by Google -- don't skip HPJI thinking that Google Scholar will find everything, or you will miss some important resources.
  • Although you can reach Google Scholar on the open internet, it is best to log in through the library's electronic resources portal (use the link above) -- this is because the library's version of Google Scholar automatically recognizes articles that the library has paid for through its database subscriptions, and so you can immediately get the articles for free in full text. If you were to find the same articles using the open Internet version, you would be required to pay for access to the articles.
  • If you find an article in Google Scholar that the library doesn't subscribe to electronically, be sure to search in the Voyager catalog to see if we subscribe to the print version.

4. Google Books

  • Google Books can at times be a useful tool for searching within the contents of books: It searches the full text of books that have been scanned by Google. If a book is out of copyright or if Google has made arrangements with a copyrighted book's publisher, you will often be able to look at full-text on screen. In other cases, you will be able to see a small "snippet" of the text.
  • When full text is not available online (or even if it is, but you prefer to read the printed version), keep in mind that virtually all of the books you find on Google Books will be available in print in the UH library. So you can also use Google Books as a supplement to our Voyager catalog: Search the contents of the books using Google, then search Voyager for the title.

Databases, Indexes & Online Document Collections

Mouse over link for database description. See also the Pacific Collection's "Selected Databases" page for other heavily used sources of Hawaii/Pacific information.

  • Australasian Literature online
    Australasian Literature brings together creative works from throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Starting in the 1930s and spanning up to the present, works of fiction and poetry are cross searchable. Includes interviews.