Getting Started With eHRAF (2)
Welcome to eHRAF! We have a series of user guides and tutorials available to take you through the various aspects of using eHRAF for cross-cultural research.
If you’re a teacher or lecturer and you want to get started with using eHRAF in your classroom assignments, visit Teaching eHRAF where you can find sample syllabi, teaching resources and read testimonials from other educators.
Can’t find what you’re looking for or prefer more personal assistance? Contact Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 1-203-764-9401.
If you are currently reading this FAQ, you are on the HRAF home page (http://hraf.yale.edu) and you are not currently inside the eHRAF databases. The only place you can conduct your cross-cultural research using eHRAF is from within the database interface. Don’t worry. We can help you get there!
How to access eHRAF and begin searching:
On the right-hand side of this site, you will see two access buttons (one brown and one blue) that will direct you to the databases so that you can begin your cross-cultural searches using either eHRAF World Cultures or eHRAF Archaeology. Alternatively, your college, university or school library may have special instructions for you to access the eHRAF from on- or off-campus. This troubleshooting page will tell you what to do if you are having issues accessing the databases.
Ready to begin your cross-cultural research in eHRAF? Our Practical Guide will help you get started.
Keep in mind:
The HRAF homepage is a useful companion site to keep open while browsing or searching eHRAF because there are additional guides, information and articles here that can help you learn more about HRAF as an organization, the contents of the eHRAF databases, and cross-cultural research methods and findings. Feel free to keep this page open in a separate tab for reference. You can also visit the homepage at http://hraf.yale.edu regularly to read our latest blog posts and site updates. You do not need any special passwords to browse this site. However, please note that if there are any hyperlinks throughout the homepage connecting you to information within the database(s), you may be prompted to sign in to eHRAF.
Cross-Cultural Research and Methodology (2)
View the Sampling section of HRAF’s Basic Guide to Cultural Research for a comprehensive overview of cultural sampling, including sample sizes, which samples are used within eHRAF, and how best to make use of these in your research.
In brief, eHRAF World Cultures contains three samples that can be considered representative:
The Probability Sample Files (PSF) is stratified random sample of 60 largely preindustrial societies that meet certain data quality controls, one randomly chosen from each culture area. Learn more.
The Simple Random Sample (SRS) currently contains 28 societies randomly chosen from a compiled list of over 8 cross-cultural samples. Learn more.
The Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS) consists of 186 anthropologically described societies pinpointed in time and space. Learn more.
eHRAF Archaeology has a Simple Random Sample.
As explained in the Basic Guide to Cross-Cultural Research on the home page under Selection of Cultures and also under Sampling within the HRAF Collection, the eHRAF collection was initially designed to represent the diversity of cultures around the world (mostly described by ethnographers), but because we undertook some special programs such as immigrant cultures in North America, we do not claim that the whole sample is representative. For teaching purposes, we suggest that you consider the 60-culture Probability Sample Files, which does claim to be representative. You can sort results in eHRAF by Sample Type on the Region and Culture results page.
Troubleshooting and Technical Issues (2)
If you experience any technical issues or error messages while using eHRAF, the easiest fix is to create a new session. eHRAF sessions are automatically invalidated after 45 minutes of inactivity. To create a new session, you can clear your web browser’s cache and start again. You may need to re-authenticate or log in again via your institutional library if you are off-campus. Alternatively, you can open an additional browser and start a new session from there (for example, using Firefox instead of Chrome). This should resolve most errors due to invalidation which may have been caused by opening and closing many windows or tabs when using eHRAF over an extended period of time.
If the problem or error you are experiencing is not helped by refreshing your browser, contact our IT team at email@example.com. If you can, please include the text of any error messages as well as any other details about when or where the error occurred.
See Troubleshooting eHRAF Access to find a solution.
About the eHRAF Databases (7)
We offer HTML, PDF and Excel versions of our coverage information on our Reference Materials page.
As of 2015, eHRAF has nearly 300 cultures included, which is well below the thousands of cultures that exist in the world. HRAF’s mission is to facilitate cross-cultural research with as much in-depth cultural coverage as we can provide for each culture rather than to have complete coverage of all the cultures of the world.
Adding cultures to eHRAF is labor-intensive. Before an ethnographic document can be added to the database, it is processed by our research analysts who index each and every paragraph to enable meaningful searching using subject codes. Our small, non-profit team is largely supported by membership dues. While we continue to add additional pages of ethnography every year (see “How often are the databases updated?“), we cannot possibly process as many cultures as people might like.
That said, if you have a particular culture you want to see in eHRAF, please write to us and let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your suggestions may help us decide what to include in the future.
At this time, we do not have a system for providing updates of HRAF’s Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) thesaurus to external users. However, we are actively pursuing creating such a system which should include distribution of an ISO-25964 version and additional services. Based on similar recent requests, our team has already assigned higher priority to this goal. The same situation applies to our Outline of World Cultures (OWC) thesaurus.
We attempt to include as much information as we can about each culture, keeping in mind that the aim of our database is to compare and contrast cultural and social life. Since the emphasis is on comparison, it is not possible to include everything about every culture.
How much of the total ethnographic literature on a culture that we include is difficult to answer because the situation has changed over time. At the outset, the plan was to have a complete list of the world’s cultures – the Outline of World Cultures) which has about 2,000 described cultures – and include in the HRAF Collection of Ethnography (then available on paper) about ¼ of the world’s cultures. The available literature was much smaller then, so the million or so pages collected could have been about ¼ of the existing literature at that time. Since then, the number of described cultures has grown as well as the body of literature, and our aims have changed somewhat. We know we cannot include everything available about each culture, so we aim to include at least two comprehensive “ethnographic snapshots” (each of a particular time and place focus) based on extensive observation and interviewing. We supplement these larger ethnographic works with more specialized articles and/or chapters.
HRAF collections are expanded and updated annually, with new cultures added to eHRAF World Cultures and new traditions added to eHRAF Archaeology typically in the spring. You can see recent and forthcoming additions to each database on the following pages:
HRAF collections are expanded and updated annually, with new cultures added to eHRAF World Cultures and new traditions added to eHRAF Archaeology typically in the spring.
eHRAF World Cultures
Currently, we add 10-20 cultures annually with approximately 20,000 pages. About 25% is new ethnographic material and the remaining material is converted from the microfiche collection. See Culture Updates for recently added and forthcoming cultures.
Currently, we add five archaeological traditions annually with approximately 10,000 pages. The focus is on archaeological tradition sequences. Some randomly selected traditions are also added from the Outline of Archaeological Traditions. See Tradition Updates for recently added and forthcoming traditions.
Currently, GIS data is not available in eHRAF. Although latitude and longitude coordinates are not yet available as coded data, location information can be found in eHRAF by searching using the OCM code for Location (OCM 131). Note that some cultures are widely dispersed geographically.
About Human Relations Area Files (2)
These clarifications will help you when referring to HRAF and eHRAF.
- Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) is the name of our non-profit organization at Yale University.
- eHRAF World Cultures is the name of HRAF’s online ethnographic database.
- eHRAF Archaeology is the name of HRAF’s online archaeological database
- HRAF Collection of Ethnography refers to the paper and fiche collections. (Note that many people have referred to this collection as the “HRAF files” for short, but we think the full name is clearer, especially since we now have an archaeological database.)
In short, HRAF refers to our organization as a whole, while eHRAF refers to our searchable online databases for cross-cultural research.
Notes on access
The HRAF homepage (hraf.yale.edu), which contains the eHRAF Highlights blog, teaching resources, research materials, user guides and other information, is freely available to all visitors. The eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology databases are only accessible via member institutions or through paid subscription (free trials are available).
Documents, Citation and Referencing (3)
There are several ways that you can save a record of your eHRAF search results. Here’s what you can and cannot download:
- Users can freely download bibliographic references for importing into bibliographic software such as EndNote or other purposes (see Citing eHRAF for more information).
- Users can print or email search results and/or selected paragraphs or pages from documents consistent with fair use, but not entire documents.
- To download entire documents, users should contact their institution’s library for their holdings and/or use interlibrary loan.
When citing a document from eHRAF, please include both the original publication citation (if applicable) followed by information about where and when you found it. You should also include the date of access for any eHRAF resource to complete your bibliographic reference.
For your convenience, preformatted references that you can copy and paste into your bibliography or save directly to your referencing software are provided directly within the eHRAF database interface. You may also choose to print or email citation information including selected excerpts from documents. For a detailed guide on how this works, see Finding citation information in eHRAF.
This feature is not yet available. However, we are working on revamping our entire application to make it more modular and flexible. One of the items on our development list is to have more options for exporting. Various formats are under consideration.
HRAF Microfiche and Paper Formats (1)
The cultures in the microfiche/paper and electronic versions of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography are not covered in the same ways. The online version (eHRAF World Cultures) includes more recent documents materials, but not all of the older documents from the fiche version such as the historical country and city files.
View Microfiche vs. Online Cultures for further information.
Library Information (4)
No. The eHRAF database model does not fit the COUNTER content models that are the bases for the COUNTER Usage Statistics Standard.
Unfortunately, eHRAF databases are not currently compatible with OpenURL.
Librarians can learn more about eHRAF and MARC records, OCLC, WorldShare, WorldCat and EBSCO Discovery Service on the Catalog Records page.