One of the most defining features of the “genre” of academic writing is that it explicitly connects to, expands on, and engages in a conversation with previously published material. The author of an academic work on a particular topic, whether this work is a book, a journal article, or simply a paper prepared for a class assignment has to be aware of what other authors have written about this topic, their methodologies, their points and arguments, and their conclusions. So, for an easy example, Brian Ruh opens his essay Producing transnational cult media: Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell in circulation (Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, 5) with the statement that “In the case of anime and manga, fan response has been a critical factor to how various texts have been adapted and received, and fan activities have been necessary to their transnational flow” – and supports it with references to two book chapters – Anne Allison’s “Can popular gulture go global?: How Japanese ‘Scouts’ and ‘Rangers’ fare in the US” (2000) and Lawrence Eng’s “Anime and Manga Fandom as Networked Culture” (2012), and Marco Pellitteri’s 2010 book The Dragon and the Dazzle: Models, Strategies and Identities of Japanese Imagination: A European Perspective.
So, how does an author find the supporting sources that are necessary for good academic writing? As I described in a previous post, there are several standard techniques and resources for research in anime/manga studies. The resources include library catalogs, and general and subject-specific academic databases, both subscription-based (such as Academic OneFile, the Bibliography of Asian Studies, and the Film & Television Literature Index), and open-access (primarily Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search). Some of the search techniques that scholars can use include “reference chaining” – directly examining the bibliographies/works cited sections of works already identified using one of the resources I just listed, and simply examining the table of contents of new issues of journals that have previously published materials on a relevant topic.