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Undergraduate Guide to Japanese Studies: Find Journal Articles

Helps students new to conducting research, emphasizing how to find scholarly books and articles on Japan.

Find Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Journal Articles

Example Topic: The History of Publishing in Japan

We will use the topic of publishing in Japan. This is quite a broad topic:

  • If this refers to contemporary publishing, will this be topic have a business focused look at eBook distribution in modern Japan?
    • Will you explore Japan's first commercial printing ventures?
    • Or the start of modern printing with printing presses?
  • Will you research what kinds of publications most popular?
    • What time frame will you focus on: the Edo period (1603 - 1868)?

Filter Results to be Just Peer-Reviewed Articles (Part 1 of 3)

You can search "japanese publishers" in the search box below and then apply the "Peer-Reviewed," and "Journal Article" filters:

★ Note that each article you go to read, a new page will load with a different interface. This is because access to these articles is provided by different companies. Each with their own interface design.

The First 5 Results are:

What to make of these results?

Why are there two non-peer reviewed articles in the search results, even though I filtered by "peer review?"

  • The journals do have peer review articles but also include essays from professionals and the personal experiences of academics and other scholars. You must continue to be proactive about assessing your sources even when applying filters.

Some of these results seem really specific! Why isn't there just an scholarly article on "japanese publishers?"

  • Academic articles are, by their nature, highly specific. Both the "Tin Pan Alley" article in Asian Music and the review of "Japanese Woodblock Prints" in Art Libraries Journal can provide insights into the topic of Japanese publishers, at least in the Edo/Tokugawa era.
  • The book review of "Japanese Woodblock Prints," there is in fact a small list of references at the end of the article that will be very helpful in reading more deeply on Japanese publishers.

Why are there Book Reviews included in the results?

  • It is very common for peer reviewed journals to publish book reviews. As stated above, they can be an easy way of discovering more resources on your topic.

Be More Specific with Your Keywords to Get Better Results (part 2 of 3)

We will make a small change to our keywords. In addtion to "japanese publishers," we will include the term "edo." Edo is the name of the era between 1603-1868. This era is famous for its flourishing of literature and literary genres.

Search "japanese publishers edo" and apply the "Peer-Reviewed" and "Journal Article" filters.

The First 5 Search Results are:

Keep Reviewing Results Past the First 5 Results

There are quite a few more search results that the 5 above. See some of the other interesting articles that appear in the search results:

Vary Your Keywords and Search Again (Part 3 of 3)

Simple Variation of Keywords

To get better results, we use the keywords "japan publishers edo." We can adjust there words slightly to make sure we see all the possible resources on this topic:

★ Each set of terms needs to searched to find the most resources for your topic.

Complex Variation of Keywords

As you read more resources about the topic of book publishing in the Edo / Tokugawa era, you should begin to discover much more specific terminology, often these will be of objects, places, people, and entities that are unique to the broader topic:

  • yomihon (literally "reading books" that were text heavy, compared to the illustrated comic format of kibyōshi)
  • gōkan (multi volume sets of books)
  • kibyōshi (illustrated satirical books produced in the mid Edo era)
  • Santō Kyōden (a popular author of kibyōshi during the Edo era, being able to read original works [in translation] will be important for your research)

These kinds of terms only arise by reading other research materials. Often you will learn terms that are only in Japanese that don't really have an English translation. Many scholars will just use the Japanese word for Japanese objects. When searching these terms, you can filter by language (English) if you can't read Japanese -- yomihon, gōkan, kibyōshi, Santō Kyōden

Japanese & Korean Studies Librarian

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Adam Lisbon

How do I keep track of the resources I find?

You can use Zotero. It's free software that works with your browser to make tracking your sources and citing them later much easier. Check out the Libraries guide on using Zotero.