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UMass Amherst Libraries

Japanese 391M/591M: Queer Japan in Literature and Culture

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There are ways that you can save a great deal of time reading so that you can spend more time thinking and writing.

Read book reviews

A scholar has taken a very careful look at this book, analyzed the author's intent, strengths and weaknesses. Read the review(s) first to help you decide whether or not you should spend time doing a careful reading of the book yourself. Reading several book reviews on the same book can also be very helpful because each reviewer has his/her own agenda and that agenda might get in the way of an impartial review.

Mine the footnotes

Again, a scholar has spent years doing research on his book. Read his/her footnotes and bibliography to find relevent materials for your own research. So many things (down to the page numbers) that might be obscure or not use any of the keywords that you have been trying, but are absolutely relevent. Footnotes are particularly useful for those of you who want to access the original Japanese but feel overwhelmed by reading so much in the original language. Just remember - scholars aren't always as accurate as they should be in their citations. You may need to do some creative detective work to untangle the mess.

Talk to your classmates

Even if you are working on different topics, your classmates may well come accross research that is potentially helpful to you. Talk to your classmates, share your findings and save time for everyone. Just do your own thinking and writing and citing please.  



Remember to save your work and save it often. We have all lost work when the system goes down, our thumb drive gets corrupted or our hard drive fails. But you can minimize your risks by saving your files often and storing backups on your U drive, Google docs, or whatever other option you choose.

Keep copies of your drafts even if you think they stink. There has always been instances of plagiarism in academia, all the way to the top, but it is much easier to check now with resources like Turnitin (which compares your paper to a database of other papers looking for similar word usage) or even just using Google. Having drafts of your paper will help you to prove that your work is your work in case it is called into dispute.

Keep track of your citations. It is far too easy to lose track of what information came out of which book or article. In the old days we kept 3 x 5 index cards with this information. Now it is so easy to cut and paste people get sloppy. Don't let this kind of a mistake haunt you. I recommend deciding on brief titles - usually the author's last name and date of article/book when you add the information to your bibliography and then using in-text citations as you write so you don't lose the information.

If you are using mostly English language materials, consider learning how to use Refworks to save time and grief.

Schedule an appointment at the Writing Center located in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and get help from an unbiased expert.