Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – A 2018 Update

Two years ago, I examined the “publication trends” in anime/manga studies by tracking the actual number of articles on anime/manga that have appeared in English-language academic journals starting in 1993 and through 2015. At that point, I was able to identify 965 such articles – though of course, the determination of what exactly constitutes an “anime/manga studies” article is ultimately subjective. And, as I continue the work of compiling the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I am also able to extend this analysis forward to the present.

English-language academic articles on anime/manga, by year, 2015-2018:

2015: 91
2016: 101
2017: 91
2018 (to date): 86

Total: 369 Continue reading

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Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – Details

A couple of months ago, I presented a fairly straight-forward question – when we talk about anime/manga studies (and even just academic writing on anime/manga in general), how many publications are we actually talking about? A few dozen? Several hundred? More?

This led me to draw on the work that I do in compiling the annual editions of the Bibliography of Anime/Manga Studies and extract some specific numbers from them to put together a broader picture of “publishing trends” in anime/manga studies. This goes towards answering the overall ‘how many?’ question, but also shows how the numbers have changed over the years, what journals have been particularly welcoming to scholarly writing on anime/manga, and who the publishers of those journals are.

In extracting the numbers, though, I had to make various somewhat arbitrary choices. And now, I hope I can at least explain the reasoning behind them.

A Preliminary Study of Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends, 1993-2015 – Methodology

Based on my research, from 1993 to 2015, academic journals published at least 981 English-language articles on anime/manga and related topics. The overall results, by year, can be seen in this chart:

academic-artices-1993-2015

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From Akira to Now: Anime/Manga Studies Article Publication Trends – Introduction

 Anime/manga studies is, as Mark MacWilliams notes in his introduction to the essay collection Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, the process and practice of “exploring the historical, cultural, sociological and religious dimensions of Japanese animation and comics, their production, and global reception” from an academic perspective. Having this kind of definition is an important first step in establishing an academic field. But, defining an academic field is one thing – identifying its characteristics is the next.

And, for any academic field, there are some particular characteristics that we can identify. Who are the participants in the field? What disciplines or departments are they based in? What kinds of materials do they draw on in their research? What kinds of specific research methods do they use? What formats do they publish their work in, and in what kinds of publications? And, simply, how much do they publish? When we talk about “anime/manga studies”, are we talking about only a few dozen publications? Several hundred? More?

Developing the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, which currently covers academic publications on Japanese comics and animation going back to 1977, puts me in a unique position to begin providing some of the answers to these questions. In the process of analyzing the Bibliography, I have been able to identify some specific characteristics, patterns, and trends:

  • Between 1993 and 2015, English-language academic journals/periodicals published at least 965 articles on anime/manga – close readings of individual works, surveys of particular themes, examinations of specific directors/creators, histories, studies of fan practices and many other types of approaches.

    [Although the earliest English-language academic article on Japanese comics that I am aware of appeared in 1977, for this specific project, I only analyzed academic publications on anime/manga going back to 1993 – the publication year for the first article on anime in an English-language academic journal. In addition, I specifically excluded approximately several dozen articles that are listed in the Bibliography based on their language or length. One more thing to keep in mind is that the Bibliography that I used as the source of publications for this study is updated continuously as I identify new publications that qualify for inclusion. So, this total number is the total as of today – but may increase in the future.]

  • These articles appeared in a total of 467 different journals, from Acta Paediatrica Japonica (reports on children who “developed various neuropsychological problems, including seizures, while watching the program Pocket Monster”) to Young Adult Library Services.
  • The academic publication that carried the highest number of articles on anime/manga over this time frame is the International Journal of Comic Art, with 78. The 10 journals that have been most “welcoming” to scholarly writing on anime/manga between 1993 and 2015 are:

1. International Journal of Comic Art: 78 articles (8%)
2. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal: 22
3. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: 21
4. Japan Forum: 19
5. Transformative Works & Cultures: 17
6. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies: 15
7: Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific: 15
8: The Journal of Popular Culture: 15
9: Image [&] Narrative: 13
10: International Journal of the Humanities: 13

These ten journals accounted for approximately 24% of all the articles on anime/manga that were published in English from 1993 to 2015.

  • 273 of the articles (28%) appeared in journals published by commercial/for-profit publishers – Taylor & Francis, Sage, Wiley, Intellect, Common Ground, and 15 others. The other 692 articles are in journals published by university presses, colleges/universities or even individual academic departments, academic societies and associations, other non-profit organizations, and sometimes, even individuals.
  • The number of articles on anime/manga published in English-language academic journals from 1993 to 2015 annually, and the breakdown by the number of articles that appeared in journals published by commercial publishers and by independents/non-profits each year can be seen in this chart:

Articles ChartIn follow-up posts, I will provide some context for this project, highlight the methods I used – and the specific choices I made to exclude certain publications, discuss the results in more detail, of course, mention some of the limitations of my research – and hopefully, provide some ideas for how to expand on it. But again, at this point, I am pleased to at least be able to make one more concrete contribution to establishing anime/manga studies as a definite and defined academic field.

Citation patterns in anime/manga studies – an initial study

When we bring up the term “anime and manga studies”, or even just the concept, being asked to define what we mean by it is inevitable. In trying to present a definition, we are certainly not alone –  just some recent examples of scholarship describing and defining particular academic areas, fields, and disciplines include Building a new academic field – the case of services marketing (Journal of Retailing), The emerging academic discipline of knowledge management (Journal of Information Systems Education), and, perhaps with the most application to anime and manga studies in particular, Animation studies, disciplinarity, and discursivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture) and the essays Why comics studies and “What’s in a name?”: The academic study of comics and the “graphic novel”, published in an issue of the Cinema Journal, in an “In Focus: Comics Studies Fifty Years After Film Studies” special section.

As Catherine Labio, author of “What’s in a  name?” notes, “defining our object of study…is a fraught yet obligatory first step in the process of academic disciplinary formation”. And, certainly, scholars writing in English about Japanese comics and Japanese animation have made it a point to present several working definitions – two such efforts are Craig Norris’s Manga, anime, and visual art culture chapter in the Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture (pp. 236-260), and Susan Napier’s “Manga and anime: Entertainment, big business, and art in Japan” in the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (pp. 226-237). But, all that a working definition of this kind does is establish an area of inquiry or a field of study – something more is necessary.

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The “oligopoly of academic publishers” and anime/manga studies

When I am asked to describe my own “academic interests”, anime and manga are actually not the first thing that I bring up. Rather, what I am interested in first and foremost is knowledge sharing – the theory behind drives (or prevents) people from sharing their knowledge with others, the actual tools and techniques that facilitate knowledge sharing, and the specific ways that individuals share knowledge – such as by publishing books or journal articles. And so, I am also generally aware of the major trends and issues that come up in this context, such as the development of the “open access” model of scholarly publishing, and the general controversy over the spiraling costs that publishers charge for access to journals. A related issue is the supposed extreme and excessive influence of a small number academic publishers that control an overwhelming majority of academic journals that scholars across many different fields need to have access to.

This issue has been mentioned plenty of times anecdotally, and recently, a group of scholars at the Universite de Montreal led by Vincent Lariviere (…whose work I consider to be the epitome of excellent library/information science scholarship) has explored it empirically. Their new paper, The oligopoly of academic publishers in the digital era, PLoS One, 10(6), confirms it, by finding that over the years from 1973 to 2013, the share of both journals and individual articles published by a small group of academic publishers has increased significantly.

Percentage of PapersIn 2013, the authors demonstrate, five publishers accounted for 51% of academic journals – and 54% of academic articles – published in the social sciences and humanities broadly defined, and 66% of academic articles in the social sciences (such as “sociology, economics, anthropology, political sciences and urban studies”). However, in the same year, only about 20% of papers published in the humanities were from the five “major publishers”.

These numbers, and their implication that large academic publishers do indeed exert a large measure of “control…on the scientific community” are important – but, for the purposes of this blog, and for the purposes of anime and manga studies as an academic field – they have to lead to a follow-up question.

What percentage of the academic output of anime/manga studies is concentrated in journals published by major for-profit/commercial publishers?

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Anime and Manga Studies in 2013 in Numbers

Trying to ask what exactly is meant by an academic discipline, field or area is a question that is almost so broad as to be meaningless. Of course, it’s still a question that is asked plenty of times – as, for example, Paul Ward does in Animation studies, disciplinarity and discursitivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3:2). But one way to at least begin asking this question is to operationalize it – to move away from what a field is, and towards the question of what do those working in this field actually do, and how. There is a general answer – scholars in a particular field think about particular topics, work with particular materials, answer particular questions. And there is an answer that is even more specific – scholars in a particular field produce knowledge that takes specific – and quantifiable – forms. And one way to gain at least some understanding of any particular academic field is by looking at how that field produces knowledge.

At the very basic level, this means examining a particular field’s “research output”, “publication patterns” or “publishing behavior”. That is, what kind of writing is expected of scholars in the field? Does it take the form of journal articles, book chapters, stand-alone books? And what are the proportions of each of those type of output to each other? A typical example of this kind of question and analysis is Huang and Chang’s Characteristics of research output in social sciences and the humanities.

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