EAC380 / HIS 380
Research Review Essay
This exercise is designed to help you work on two key academic skills: (1) recognizing an argument that
derives from scholarly research; and (2) synthesizing differing positions on a particular topic.
Here you will apply these skills to a focused topic in the history of China from 1368 to the present.
1. Identify a focused topic in Chinese history during the period covered in this course.
Topics should be focused enough that you can select appropriate articles that have some overlapping
material. Topics such as “Chinese Religion” or “Confucianism” or the “Ming Dynasty” are too broad to
do that. You should begin considering the topic as soon as possible and discuss it with me as you
develop your ideas.
2. Select THREE (3) scholarly articles from scholarly journals.
Scholarly journals are publications where scholars publish the results of their research. They engage
in a practice known as “peer review” in which articles are read and criticized by other scholars before
they are published. It is a system that assures that articles published meet the minimum expectations
in the field for high-quality research. Peer review is a way to encourage articles to meet basic
standards; it does NOT a guarantee that an article is “right.”
Your selections must be substantial articles. Book reviews (which many journals publish) are not
If you are unsure whether something counts as a journal article, you should ask me.
3. Write a SEVEN-PAGE (7) ESSAY that answers the following questions:
What are the ARGUMENTS (theses) of each of the articles you have selected?
How do the articles relate to each other?
Consider questions like: Do they address different aspects of a single problem? Do they agree or
disagree with each other? Do they address different topics but use them to address each other?
Taken together, what do they tell you about the topic you have chosen?
Double-spaced using a normal-sized font (such as Times New Roman in 12 point).
Language: Standard Academic English. Pay attention to grammar and usage.
Bibliography: Append a page (page 8) with a properly formatted bibliography of the articles using the
Identify references to the texts of the articles using simplified parenthetical notes, such as (Smith, 45),
which means the point you are making is found on p.45 of the article written by Smith.
Proposal (one sentence topic statement plus a bibliography of the articles): DUE March 23, 2021 via e-mail.
FINAL VERSION: DUE April 29, 2021 via the SafeAssign link in Blackboard.
EAC380 / HIS 380
Research Review Essay
The following is the rubric used for grading your Research Review Essay. Note that the grade weight is a
percentage that add up to 100 points. The equivalent letter grade can be found in the grading guidelines
section of the course syllabus.
Characteristic Grade Weight Ideal Characteristic Description
Topic clarity 5% The topic is focused enough to allow the reader to see the
relevance of the articles chosen.
Article Quality 10% The articles chosen meet the following criteria: peerreviewed; relevant to the defined topic; well matched as a
20% The essay clearly identifies the central argument of each
Article Relationship 15% The essay describes well how the articles relate to each
other. When relevant, it describes areas of agreement and
areas of disagreement.
Assessment 15% The essay clearly explains what reading the chosen articles
together suggests about the essay’s topic. This may take
different forms. For example, it may describe a consensus
shared by the three articles on the topic. Or, it may identify
the core issues that divide the authors of the articles. Or, it
may show how the articles suggest changes over time in how
scholars look at the essay’s topic.
Organization 15% The essay presents its material in a way that the reader can
easily follow and that proceeds logically to its final
Writing Clarity 20% The writing of the essay uses standard academic English that
is largely free of grammatical errors, typographical mistakes,
or stylistic sloppiness.
EAC380 / HIS 380
Tips and Resources for Finding Scholarly Articles in Chinese History
Here are some suggestions for locating the articles for your Research Review Essay. These are
followed with some recommendations on useful databases and suggestions concerning the library’s
Discovery search engine.
1. Think creatively about search terms.
Sometimes valuable sources are categorized in unexpected ways. Searching with
several relevant terms will give you a better selection of articles from which to
2. Be selective when choosing the articles from your search hit list.
Do not just choose the first three articles among the hits! You are looking for three
articles that will fit together well to illuminate your topic. That will require a little
thought and some initial reading of candidate articles. Some good articles may
actually appear on the second set of hits, or even later.
3. Search for Chinese search terms using both Romanization systems.
Remember that most English scholarship before 1990 was written using the WadeGiles system, but more recent scholarship uses Pinyin almost exclusively. If you are
looking for a Chinese name or a Chinese term, you may miss good sources if you
use just one Romanization in your search. This is especially true for topics in the
20th century and earlier.
4. Do not be afraid to use the sources you have already found to locate others.
If you have already found good articles, look through the authors’ source notes to
see if they are directly addressing other sources.
Databases of Scholarly Articles
UAlbany Library Catalog
The library catalogue search engine (currently designated “Discovery”) is a first stop for locating
research materials of all kinds. Caution is needed, however. The search engine mixes together all
materials available to the UAlbany community (books, articles, book reviews, web resources etc.).
When you use this, you should choose the “Advanced Search” option and limit the Material Type
to “Articles.” That will cut down the extraneous material significantly. Note that the “Articles” limit
will still pull up book reviews, which are not allowed for this project. If you do find an article from
this database, the catalogue will provide you a link to the relevant database, where you can get the
The library’s Discovery search engine is tied to UAlbany’s subscriptions to various databases of
scholarly journal articles and will locate most of these materials, but you can go directly to the
individual databases using the library’s Database Finder (https://apps.library.albany.edu/dbfinder/).
EAC380 / HIS 380
This database includes the contents of the journal issues included (articles, book reviews, research
reports, some books, etc.). You should use the Narrow Results options to limit your search to
“Articles.” The database also categorizes journals by subject, so you should also limit your search
by checking the relevant disciplines (e.g., Asian Studies, History, and Literature).
This is another database of journals. It is not as extensive as JSTOR, but it does include some
journals not in JSTOR (e.g., positions: east asia cultural critique). The UAlbany subscription is
included in the library’s Discovery search engine. The Advanced Search options are behind the
initial simple search, so it is difficult to start from that point. Once you have results, you can filter
the results in various ways (as with JSTOR).
International Databases of Interest
This is short for Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (中国知网). This is a database of
journal articles published in the People’s Republic of China. You can think of it as a Chinese
version of JSTOR, but much larger. Unfortunately, UAlbany does not have a subscription to this
database, but if you have connections in China, you may be able to secure materials from this
resource. Remember you want high-quality articles in academic journals. Look for journals
published by universities with an academic title (e.g., the term xuebao 学报 in the title).
CiNii (NII 学術情報ナビゲータ)
Short for Citation Index of the National Institute of Informatics, this is a Japanese database akin to
CNKI. It includes most academic journals published in Japan (and therefore in Japanese). As with
CNKI, UAlbany does not have a subscription. Some of its content, however, is open access.
Useful Journal Resource
Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory
This database lists the characteristics of academic journals (not their contents). Instead, it describes the
journals themselves: the publisher, its international identifying ISSN number, where it is published, whether
it is still active, and what formats it appears in. The most useful information is that it will tell you if a journal
is “peer reviewed.” Just look for the picture of the referee’s shirt to the left of the journal title. UAlbany has
a subscription to this with a link on the Database Finder page of the library website.
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