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PACS 202: Origins and Migrations: Research Strategies

A guide to researching Pacific origins, settlements and movements.

Useful Subject Headings

The below list is not comprehensive, but does include many of the major subject headings one can use to search for texts in Voyager on early origin stories. In each example, other countries or peoples can be substituted. For instance, rather than search Mythology Melanesian one can search Mythology Solomon Islands or Mythology Samoan or etc.

Cosmogony, Solomon Islands

Cosmology, Solomon Islands

Mythology, Melanesian

Legends, Samoan

Malaita Province (Solomon Islands)--History



Polynesia--Discovery and exploration

Maori (New Zealand people)--Origin

The Contemporary Pacific online

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. This strategy is essentially meant to have you start in the most controlled environment (i.e., the library, as represented by Voyager) and expand your search outward from there. The below outlines an overview process meant to get you started; in this context, OneSearch Mānoa, Google Scholar and Google Books can all be very powerful supplements to Voyager and HPJI; they also are part of the process of expanding your search beyond the physical boundaries of the UH library system. However, when it comes to doing a literature search for a Masterʻs Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation, be aware that OneSearch and The Googles are only three of several necessary tools to your research: They donʻt capture everything there is.

Items in the Voyager catalog marked UH Mānoa: Hamilton Pacific Reference or UH Mānoa: Hamilton Hawaiian Reference can be pulled directly off the reference shelves in the Hawaiian & Pacific reading room. For items marked UH Mānoa Hawaiian Collection or UH Mānoa Pacific Collection, request retrieval through the "Get This Item" link in Voyager. (Click here for instructions on how to request books using "Get This Item.")

For information on requesting books, journal articles or other materials that are not available in the UH system libraries, see the "Sources of Inter-Library Loan / Document Delivery" under the Online Sources tab above.

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 or books, journals (not journal articles, just journal titles), magazines, newspapers, films and so forth.
  • 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, Samoa mythology) 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. Subject headings are in theory applied to every item (books, journals, newspapers, videos, etc.) in the library's online catalog, and are meant to help you narrow down your search.  (We say "in theory" because there are certain instances where the headings haven't been added.) 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. (For a list of useful Pacific subject headings, click here.). 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.) Remember:
    • it is best to use a combination of keyword searching and subject headings searches to make sure you are finding everything in the library.
    • When searching using a known subject heading, use "Subject Browse" in Basic search mode -- be aware that the subject browse search requires you to use a properly constructed subject heading (that is, all the terms have to be in the proper order).
    • If you're unsure of the subject heading, use "Subject Keyword" in the Advanced search mode -- this search does not require you to have all the terms in the proper order, and is therefore more forgiving that the "Subject Browse" search.

2. Hawaii Pacific Journal Index


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.


4. The Googles

When using Google Scholar and Google Books, please remember that the Internet (even Google!) does not hold information on everything in the world. There are things in our library that simply don't exist anywhere else in the world and are invisible to Google. This is particularly true of the kind of primary source material that you are expected to know about when doing graduate-level research -- you ignore Voyager and the Hawaii-Pacific Journal Index at your own great risk! Google searches should also never be substituted for searches in databases featured at left -- Google is a good means of diving into your subject and getting a sense of what has been published ... but it is not a one stop solution to advanced scholarly research and it can also at times be an extremely messy search. All of this said:

Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar can at times be a 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 are not picked up 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. If the library doesn't subscribe to print, you can request a "document delivery" of the article using the library's Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service—in most instances, you will receive a (free) digital version of the article within a few days. For more in ILL, click here.

Google Books

  • Google Books can at times be a useful tool for searching within the contents of books: It searches the full text of numerous books (not every book in the world, though!). Full-text searching can be especially useful when you're looking for Pacific Island names or concepts -- for instance, it allows you to search for references to the Chamorro figure Puntan; this will often turn up books that you might not otherwise think to look in.

  • 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. If you come across a title that is not in Voyager catalog, remember that you can also request the book through the library's Interlibrary Loan system—delivery time ranges, but for current publications it is usually one to two weeks. (Be warned though that some of our partner libraries will not loan out brand-new works via ILL (they want to hold them for their own users) and virtually no one will send old and rare material.)