EAS6078: Getting Started

Begin by getting as much advice as you can from your supervisors and staff of the East Asian Studies Library. Consider theoretical and comparative perspectives as well as the empirical sources on your area of interest.

Electronic Bibliographic Searching – academic journals

This is a rapidly developing area. The collections of most British libraries are searchable via their websites or through COPAC. Ejournals may be searched either through a facility such as ZETOC  or Scopus  or through publishers’ sites. East Asian-language periodical literature is also readily available – ask Library staff for assistance.

Electronic and internet resources

If you are using electronic resources beyond the academic journals, consider how to evaluate the material you find and how to preserve access to it. Remember that you will need to record the date on which you accessed electronic resources, and that these may (if you’re unlucky) be moved, updated or removed between the first time you read them and the dissertation submission date. If your argument is really dependent on something, make sure you have a copy – possibly an electronic one – of the text you were working from.

Inter-library loan service

If you are thinking of using the inter-library loan service, bear in mind that inter-library loan can be slow, and that what may look like a very promising source when shown in an index or bibliography may turn out to be worthless when you actually start reading it. Consult with your supervisor before you fire off a batch of inter-library loan requests, and consider visiting Boston Spa at an early stage in your work so that you can evaluate material before requesting it on loan.

When to start writing

Do not wait until you think you have finished ‘researching’ before you start ‘writing’. If you wait, you will invariably discover that you have more than enough material for some areas and that large holes remain in other (possibly more crucial) areas. As soon as you think you have some aspect more or less thoroughly covered, write it up, even in rough form. Worry later about any redundancy of material: it is easier to make cuts at the last minute than to fill gaps. The earlier you start writing up bits and pieces, the more rapidly you will gain a sense of the way or ways in which various elements can be made to fit into a smooth and persuasive narrative or argument.

For students taking intermediate/advanced language – How much use of Japanese/Chinese/Korean is “enough”?

There is no hard and fast rule to describe how many or what volume of East Asian language sources you must use in your dissertation, but they should make a ‘substantial’ contribution to the work. ‘Substantial’ can be interpreted as meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • your key argument(s) came from vernacular sources.
  • essential data (textual or numerical) came from vernacular sources.
  • your arguments or examples would have been one-sided without the use of vernacular sources.

Reading East Asian-language Sources

When you turn to Japanese/Chinese/Korean sources, do not pick up one or two sources and start translating! Skim through your most promising source several times. Look up only very frequently occurring vocabulary. If a source does not live up to expectation, do not be afraid to set it aside and look further for another.

Research ethics

The University requires that any research project involving human participants be subject to ethics review, to ensure that the safety, privacy and dignity of those participants is protected. This will not be necessary for all projects (such as those based wholly on published materials), but anyone who intends to use – for example – interviews or questionnaires in the course of their research will be required to secure ethics approval for their project. This question will be discussed in the dissertation workshop in semester two.

More information on ethics policy and procedures

Form of Dissertation


Dissertation lengths are for MAXIMUM lengths and are not a rough guide. Please refer to the online MOLE course guide for information about the regulations for dissertation word lengths. Word length includes everything except the list of references and any appendices.


One electronic version should be uploaded to Turnitin.


If you are following the SEAS in-text referencing system correctly then you should not be using many footnotes. If a piece of explanatory material is too bulky to appear as a footnote, it should be made into an appendix.


The School requires the use of the Harvard Referencing system in dissertations, as in other written assignments.

General Considerations

Generally a well-written dissertation will comprise the following elements:

Table of Contents

This should be a clear summary, ranging from “Introduction” to “Conclusion”.


This should set out the aim and scope of your dissertation: what your subject is and how you are going to treat it. Sources and methodology (where your information comes from and how you are going to organise and interpret it) are also described in the introduction.

Main body

This should be a logical treatment of your subject. Depending on your topic, each chapter may deal with, for example, one or more aspect of a complex problem, one or more closely related source, a well-defined time period, etc. In any event, each chapter should have a thread that holds it together.


This is a concise statement of your findings, the degree to which you have achieved your objectives, and a discussion of limitations, unresolved problems, or points needing further investigation.

List of references

All dissertations must indicate the sources cited using the SEAS guidelines on referencing. Sources cited must also be listed in alphabetical order of the author’s name in a list of references at the end of the dissertation.


Assume (as a writing discipline, not as a matter of fact) that your reader is intelligent but not necessarily literate in Japanese/Chinese/Korean. Keep the use of vernacular terms in the text to a minimum. You will need to use some judgement here: some terms such as ‘karôshi’, or ‘the xiaokang society’ are probably useable in romanisation (provided that you provide a translation or explanation when you first use them, and – if you feel keen – characters); others, such as ‘nuhua jiaoyu’ are probably not.

Personal names - all areas

Chinese, Japanese and Korean names should be given in their conventional order: family name followed by given name. NOTE: This rule does not apply to works originally written in a European language or to individuals living and working in Europe or North America who, as in the case of Masao Miyoshi, have adopted the European format.