The end goal of “academic writing” is not just producing a piece of writing that follows a particular format and style. Rather, the end goal – at least once you as the author are no longer writing simply to fulfill a class requirement – is a piece of writing that can then be published in the form of a book, a chapter in an edited essay collection, or, most likely, an article in an academic journal. But this kind of end goal implies an immediate and obvious question – how do you, as an author of a potential journal article, first go about deciding which journals to submit your paper to?
A simple and straight-forward question to ask when conducting any kind of academic research is – where do I start looking for materials on my topic? And, a key concept to understand when thinking about the research process is that there is no such thing as single resource that would be an equally effective starting point for any kind of research. Subject encyclopedias and specialized subject bibliographies, introductory essay collections (these often carry the specific term “Companion” or “Handbook” in the title – as with the examples of the Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel and the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society) and of course, various general and subject-specific research databases , to say nothing of Google Scholar, may all be useful.
In the past, I have profiled/evaluated one such resource – the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research. And recently, I became aware of another one that – at least initially, looks like it would be perfect for anyone who is looking to begin researching topics related to anime/Japanese animation.
What does this Database cover? How is it organized? And, most importantly, is it actually useful?
(Note: All of my comments apply to the English version of the Database only)
“Launched in 2013, Database for Animation Studies is a part of the project called Mapping Project for Animation Studies held by Japanese Association of Animation Studies. It collects the information of the books and the articles on Animation Studies and share it. By doing it, this website aims to show the map of the landscape of Animation Studies.” Continue reading
Academic work in any field or area, including anime/manga studies, is not “for its own sake” – and the end goal of any academic project is a result or outcome that can be shared with the public. Of course, the actual process of knowledge sharing can take several different forms. Just some of them include books, chapters in edited essay collections, articles in a academic journal, presentations at conferences, stand-alone lectures, even just blog posts. So, if you are an academic who just finished a research project, how do you find the opportunities that may be available to you to share your work?
One straight-forward way (especially if your work is in the form of an article-length paper) is to identify journals that cover the subject, theme, topic or area of your research, and submit it for publication to one of them. Over the course of the research process, we become familiar with both the leading general journals in our research fields, and with others that are much more specialized. So, for example, someone who is studying the work of a particular anime director is likely already familiar with the Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema – and can plan on submitting their paper to it. Similarly, a journal like Japan Forum or Japanese Studies would be a logical place to publish an examination of how anime/manga depict particular events in Japanese history, while a paper on representations of disability in manga can be presented to a journal such as Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry (as Andrea Wood did with Drawing disability in Japanese manga: Visual politics, embodied masculinity, and wheelchair basketball in Inoue Takehiko’s REAL).
However, this kind of approach has its own limitations. At the very basic, you the author may simply not be familiar with some of the journals that could potentially serve as outlets for your work. In fact, as studies such as Trends in publication outlets of geographer-climatologists and Where do educational technologists really publish? An examination of successful scholars’ publication outlets demonstrate, scholars in particular academic fields can publish in dozens of different journals. New journals appear frequently – Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society, just announced a few days ago and set to publish its first volume next year may be of particular interest to scholars working with Japanese comics. Sometimes, journals may also announce special issues built around specific themes. And, of course, journals represent only one of the potential types of outlets that scholars have for sharing their work.
So, what kinds of resources can scholars draw on for identifying opportunities to publish their work in journals/essay collections or present it at academic conferences? There are several such resources that may be of interest to scholars who are interested in anime and manga. Continue reading
In a previous post, I asked whether graduate students write Ph.D dissertations/master’s theses on anime and manga – the answer being very much yes. In the same post, I also discussed several ways of locating and accessing these kinds of dissertations, including using Google Scholar, institutional repositories, and the subscription-only ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database, and listed a number of recent dissertations/theses authored by graduate students in colleges/universities both in the U.S. and in other English-speaking countries.
But, just as with published scholarship, simply being able to locate and access dissertations on a particular topic does not necessarily serve to fill an end user’s information needs. Books receive reviews, whether in academic journals, in popular magazines, or on blogs. Until recently, I was not aware of any similar resource for reviews of dissertations.
As it turns out, the appropriately titled Dissertation Reviews website serves exactly this purpose – of providing “overviews of recently defended, unpublished doctoral dissertations in a wide variety of disciplines across the Humanities and Social Sciences”. Its main goal is to highlight, rather than critique/criticize, so in a way, if a title is selected to be reviewed, that in of itself can be treated as an endorsement and a positive appraisal of its value and contribution to scholarship.
Academic writing on anime/manga can exist in several different formats. Most of these are intuitively familiar to readers – the book written by a single author, the edited collection of essays by several, the individual chapter in a collection, the article in a scholarly journal. But, one format that many readers may not be as familiar with is the Ph.D. dissertation or master’s thesis.
In the Western academic tradition (which, granted, has largely been adopted by academic institutions all over the world), the culmination of a graduate program, whether at the doctoral or master’s level, is a major piece of original scholarly writing that can conceivably be published as a stand-alone book. Doctoral programs always or virtually always require one, in addition to coursework and an oral examination, and many master’s programs (though by no means all) do as well. In its The Doctor of Philosophy Degree: A Policy Statement, the Council of Graduate Schools states that the dissertation both “makes an original contribution to knowledge”, and serves as a significant training experience for an academic career. And, as Paul D. Isaac emphasizes, in Faculty perceptions of the doctoral dissertation, it also plays significant “cultural, informal, and historical academic roles” such as providing a common experience for all Ph.D. recipients, regardless of their specific personal backgrounds, disciplines, or schools/programs.
It is not easy to make the process of putting together the lists of academic publications on anime/manga that are available in the Bibliographies section of this website sound particularly interesting. But, nonetheless, describing some of the steps in this process can actually be a good demonstration of research skills and techniques – and at the same time, can also highlight the particular “publication characteristics” of anime and manga studies as a discrete field or area. So, as I go about compiling and updating these lists, what do I actually do? (In recording/documenting this process, I am inspired by Robert Singerman’s “Creating the optimum bibliography: From reference chaining to bibliographic control”, in David William Foster & James R. Kelly (eds.), Bibliography in literature, folklore, language and linguistics: Essays on the status of the field (pp. 19-47), Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co – a uniquely pedantic essay, – but it its own way, invaluable.) Continue reading
The trend towards “open access” is probably the single most important recent development in academic/scholarly publishing, across many different subject ares, and disciplines. As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of the discussion of the new issues, as well as the challenges and controversies, of open access publishing focus on the STM (“science, technology, and medicine”) fields. But open access as a model and a practice is by no means limited to those fields, and scholars in the social sciences and the humanities/liberal arts are embracing it as well. So, for example, of the 75 English-language articles on anime/manga published in academic journals last year that I am aware of, 29 (39%) are available in open access. This compares to 37 of 81 (46%) for articles published in 2013 (the slightly larger percentage is due to two special issues on anime/manga and related topics in Transformative Works and Cultures and the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Culture), and 22 of 64 (34%) for those published in 2012. In fact, the percentage seems to be holding this year too – with 5 open access articles out of the 13 that have been published on anime/manga so far – a ratio of 38%. Continue reading
This blog has been on hiatus since the spring. Since then, I successfully produced this year’s AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium, organized and presented an Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies panel at the Otakon convention, and am continuing working on a re-launch of the Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Research as a searchable database hosted on a website with a unique, dedicated, and appropriated URL. Right now, the first thing to do is to catch up and make up for lost time. And the best way to do that is by highlighting some of my recent activities.
In particular, as I mentioned, at this year’s Otakon, held once again (as it has been since 1999, and as it will be for two more years) in Baltimore, MD, I was the organizer and lead panelist for the Introduction to Anime and Manga Studies, panel. The description that I provided to Otakon was:
“Anime and manga studies is a vibrant emerging academic field. Anime and manga studies is also how you can get away with reading Naruto for a college class or writing about gender roles in Madoka in a graduate school seminar. Join members of the Anime and Manga Research Circle for an in-depth look at what we mean by “anime and manga studies”, how we got started, what we do as anime/manga scholars – and how you can become an anime scholar too!” Continue reading
In searching for scholarly publications about anime and manga, the question of where to start the search is crucial and unavoidable. A broad database like Academic Search Premier or Academic OneFile covers a lot of what is available, but the “barrier” for coverage is very high, and many journals are not included – to say nothing of books or book chapters. Google Scholar’s coverage is erratic and based purely on keywords in the text of a particular publication. Specialized or subject-specific databases like the Bibliography of Asian Studies, the Film & Television Literature Index Online, the International Index to the Performing Arts or the MLA International Bibliography are more narrowly focused – but again, an article or other publication on Japanese animation or comics may not necessarily be included in any of them. And indeed, the very nature of “anime and manga studies” as an area that is inherently interdisciplinary and does not fit neatly into any one particular databases’s scope makes finding publications on anime/manga a game with no perfect ending.
What options, then, does someone who is looking for materials on anime/manga have?