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Please use our new Research Guides at

Be sure to update any links or bookmarks to point to the new guides.

For more assistance, contact the liaison librarian, Babi Hammond. Phone: (717) 245-1619. More Liaison Information.


Find reference works

Citing encyclopedia and other reference works is NOT considered a scholarly practice, therefore you are discouraged to include such sources in your research paper. However, if you are new to the field and do not know much about your research topic, reference works can be a good place to start. A good reference work can help you relate your topic to the large context of the discipline, and help you quickly identify key authors, key sources, and key issues on the subject. This kind of background information is useful for refining your research topic, coming up with a good research question, and identifying possible sources for further research.

  • How to Find Reference Works

You can find print reference works via Catalog (limit your search to "Location=Reference Stacks"). The library also has a number of online reference works in the database list that are relevant to East Asian Studies, such as

Find books for in-depth study on the topic

If you cannot find a good reference book on your chosen topic, you can always find relevant books on the topic. Read the introduction part of the book carefully, because that is where you may find a nice overview of the topic, including how the topic has evolved over time, and what major arguments have been made, and so on. Besides, you should always read the ending part of the book, the bibliography, carefully, because bibliographies can give you important clues as to what sources are available that may be relevant to your research. You may be able to find some sources this way that you may never find otherwise. Once you identify the sources (books and articles), it should be relatively easy to obtain them, either in our library or via interlibrary loan.

  • How to Find Relevant Books

Find journal articles for up to date, focused analysis

Once you have a broad understanding of the research topic and come up with a well refined research question, you should find as many scholarly articles as you can for up to date, in-depth studies on the topic.

  • How to Find Relevant ArticlesThere are many databases in our library database list that contain high quality scholarly articles on East Asia. For example
    • JStor: JStor includes 19 Asia related journals. It is full text, and covers publications about 1-5 years back from the current issue (not up to date).
    • Project Muse: Project Muse includes 16 Asia related journal titles. It is full text, and covers mostly recent issues.
    • Bibliography of Asian Studies Online: BAS has the most comprehensive coverage of mostly English language publications (including books and journals) on Asia. It is an index only database (no full text), and not as convenient to use as JStor and Project Muse. However, it is a most valuable source for any in-depth research on Asia.

Find primary sources to support your argument

You can support your argument by quoting from secondary sources (studies done by other scholars). But if you want to make an original argument, oftentimes, you will need to cite primary sources to support your claim.

  • How to Find Primary Sources

For primary sources published in books,

  • General Search Strategy: search the catalog or WorldCat (preferred) with subject descriptor documents or sources. For example, if you are searching for primary sources on Chinese history published in books, search WorldCat with (keywords) "Chinese history" + (subject)"documents or sources."

For other primary sources other than books, search the databases:

Find East Asian language resources

WorldCat includes a great number of East Asian language materials. Use the Chinese or Japanese interface of the database for easy browsing of the language materials.

Digital Archives

Many public and academic libraries are now digitizing their archival materials and make them available free online. Here are some major resources from libraries that are relevant to modern China/Japan Studies.

China Studies

Japan Studies

Organize your sources

Always document your sources carefully throughout the entire research and writing process. Check your Writers Manual or our library Citing Sources page for appropriate ways to document your sources in different styles.

On Reserves at the Circulation Desk there are always style manuals available for consultation.


Additionally, RefWorks is a useful tool for citation management. Current Dickinson College students, faculty, and staff can setup an individual RefWorks account. Please see our RefWorks FAQ or Consult a Librarian for further assistance.

About the Field: research centers and organizations