When conducting research on any topic, there are certain things that any researcher must keep in mind. One of these things has to do with the basic design of bibliographic access systems – library catalogs, scholarly databases, subject bibliographies. These systems are tools for locating “bibliographic units” – books, book chapters, and individual journal articles. So, they are great when a researcher is looking for, for example, journal articles on the classic anime Neon Genesis Evangelion – a search for “Neon Genesis Evangelion” in the EBSCO Academic Search Premier database retrieves records for three articles. These three are by no means all the English-language articles that have been published on Evangelion, just the ones that have appeared in the journals covered by this particular database. But, locating these three can be a start.
Often, though, a researcher is looking for information not about individual articles, but rather, their authors. What is an author’s academic background and research interests, what other work has he or she done, where is the author currently teaching – finally, how can I contact the author? Do resources exist for this kind of research?
One thing to keep in mind right away is that although it’s standard for online databases and library catalogs (and websites like Amazon) to allow a search for an author’s name, all that this kind of search will return is not information about the author, but rather, records for the individual books, chapters, articles, etc. that include the name in the appropriate field. So, searching for the leading American anime scholar Susan J. Napier in Academic Search Premier returns 11 results for items written by Prof. Napier – but does not give you any idea about who she actually is. Granted, both actual articles as published in journals and the corresponding records in some academic databases will sometimes list an author’s academic affiliation, but that kind of detail may very well be out of date literally as soon as it appears.
So, what are some available resources for researching authors, not just their works?
- Scholar Universe
Scholar Universe is a specialized database containing current, up-to-date profiles of over 2 million academic authors in different areas, fields, and disciplines, their academic affiliations, interests, and publication lists. It can be used as a stand-alone product to search for authors who have written about, taught classes on, or indicate that they have an academic interest in anime/manga. Scholar Universe will search the authors’ profiles, the titles and abstracts of their works, and any other materials that they make available, such as their CV’s or even syllabi of classes that have taught in the past.
In addition, since Scholar Universe is owned by the leading information services provider EBSCO, it is also integrated into other EBSCO products. For example, if a particular author has a Scholar Universe profile, every record for an article by that author in the ProQuest Research Library, a standard academic database that is available in most colleges/universities and in many public libraries, will link to the profile.
- Google Scholar Citations
Google Scholar is of course prominent as the easy to use, accessible, familiar, and most importantly, free resource for locating and accessing scholarly literature. An additional feature of Google Scholar that is lesser known, but certainly useful is Google Scholar Citations – any author whose articles are accessible in Google Scholar can set up a personal profile page with a photo, current contact information, and a list of all of their publications. Once the profile has been set up, all of the author’s publications as they appear in a Google Scholar search will include a link to the profile.
However, this remains a fairly obscure and definitely under-utilized service. One reason for this may simply be that the profiles are not created automatically – an author needs to actively create one. An additional requirement is that the author have or be willing to have a Google account in order to create their profile. Furthermore, profiles then need to be actively maintained.
Some examples of Google Scholar profiles:
Academia.edu is a Facebook-like social network that allows any user to set up a searchable profile and upload their publications or other papers.
Granted, although all of these services do have their own benefits and offer various added functionalities, plenty of times, locating an author’s profile page on the website of their university may be sufficient. In fact, sometimes, because the content of an author’s personal profile page is written by that author, viewing one may give you a better idea about that author as a person. And of course, it is also important to always remember that “authors are people too” – and frequently, an anime or manga scholar will, in addition to any faculty pages or specialized profiles, also maintain a personal website where they can present themselves to the world in whatever way they see is most appropriate.