Handbook project Studying Japan: Research Designs, Fieldwork and Methods
With Cornelia Reiher
Japanese Studies is an interdisciplinary field. Research focusing on Japan’s society, politics, culture and history draws on a wide variety of theories and methods from various disciplines. This textbook responds to the increasing demand for systematic and transparent research practices in Japanese Studies and Area Studies communities. It aims to support training in research design, research methods and preparation for fieldwork in and beyond Japan. In short, it is the first comprehensive fundamental guide on methodology in Japanese Studies.
Students of Japanese Studies and researchers focusing on Japan often face the problem of choosing adequate research methods and translating them into a research design that can be meaningfully applied to Japan and its area-specific characteristics. This is especially true when conducting fieldwork on and in Japan and working with Japanese language sources. Devoid of a comprehensive textbook on methodology in Japanese Studies, students often have to start from scratch when preparing their own research for their BA, MA or doctoral theses and are confronted with questions like “How do I start my research?”, “Which methods suit which research questions and designs?”, “How should I conduct my research?”, and so forth. Lecturers who advise students or teach methodology courses are also lacking a comprehensive textbook on methodology. In order to design a methods course they have to scan through a large body of different texts on methodology and methods.
This textbook aims at making this process easier and offers a starting point for learning and teaching methods and research design in a Japanese Studies context and beyond. It compiles an overview of basic qualitative social science methods, presents doctoral students’ and senior scholars’ experiences of applying these methods to research on and in Japan, gives reading suggestions and offers exercises for self-study and hands-on activities during courses. In short, the book, which is a collaborative effort of scholars from Japan, Europe, the US and Australia, provides the foundations for a course on qualitative research methods on Japan aimed at undergraduate and graduate students as well as early career researchers in Japanese Studies, the Social Sciences and Area Studies.