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Term Paper assignment

Your term paper assignment has two main parts:

critical review + comparative perspective

For both parts, you need to show your critical thinking skills. Your professor is already an expert in the topic, so she's not looking for a summary of the ideas - she's looking for your ability to apply a critical analysis to what you've learned.

1. Read the book

You can't review something you haven't read.

A critical review asks you to examine the ideas of another person from your perspective

Keep in mind that you will need to summarize and evaluate the main ideas as well as fulfill the criteria on your assignment sheet.


Finding a library copy

The Library search box is your key source for finding both print and digital books in the library collection.  Enter the title of the book you are seeking  to see if it's available.

How to read the call number:

BL1945 .S82 C43 2005

1. Find the floor where BL is located.

2. Find 1945 in the BL section and then look for S82 and so on.


  • If the book you want is out on loan - you can place a hold and get it back within about a week to two weeks..
  • ebrary is a collection of over 30,00 books - with over 900 of them on China.  If you create an account you can download books,  annotate and highlight text within the books

2. Analysis

It might be useful to make a chart to note down the important points.

Book's central idea My responses
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

What scientific evidence is there to support this claim?

How does the author support this claim in the article?

What are the origins of this theory? Is this the original source of this theory or has is the author building upon pre-existing ideas?

and so on...   

These responses should be valid academic points - it's not enough to say that it's a "good" or "bad" idea. You need to explain why. 

3. Find book reviews using the library search

Search for the book title using quotations (e.g. "house united house divided")

In the left hand side box will be listed book reviews; if we hold the book the information will be found in the middle column of the page of results.

Note: In Advanced Search as well as  on the full results page (see below) you can use the Content Type delimiter to include only Book Reviews:




NOTE:  Google is not useful for this assignment. If you search for the title, you'll get links to buy it on Amazon rather than quality book reviews.

4. Finding book reviews using databases

Search using the book title in quotations.

Recommended databases:

JSTOR - Use Advanced Search to limit Item Type to "Reviews"

SocINDEX - limit to "Book review" using Document Type dropdown menu

Sociological Abstracts - limit to "Book review" using Document Type

Take a look at the list of databases for Asian Studiesespecially China Academic Journals (if you can read Chinese).


You need to consider the authority of the book review.

  • Who wrote it?
  • What is the reviewer's background in this field?
  • Where is this review published?

As much as you are evaluating the book, you also need to evaluate the book reviews you use.

5. Additional research

Book reviews tend to be very short (under 1000 words), so you might need to find other sources that discuss the ideas and themes of your book.

Listed below are Research Databases particularly useful for Asian Studies. These databases include journal articles, book chapters and in some cases include the full text of the item. See Subject Guides for a complete list. 

  • Bibliography of Asian Studies - key index to Asian studies articles
  • China Academic Journals - searchable full text archive of Chinese journals
  • JSTOR - full-text searchable archive of over 500 journals including 48 titles for Asian Studies including China Journal, China Quarterly, Chinese Literature, Frontiers of Philosophy in China and Modern China. Coverage begins at the start of each journal and stops with 3-5 years of the present.
  • Project Muse - full-text of over 25 Asian studies journals - including China Review International, China an International Journal,  Journal of Chinese Overseas, Late Imperial China and Twentieth-Century China

There are also a number of free databases on the web that are very useful for locating information on various aspects of Chinese Studies:

  • Annual Bibliography of Oriental Studies - full text searchable database covering books and articles in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and English published since 1981. Need to have Chinese fonts to view the non-English records
  • British Library of Development Studies -  country profiles section creates search in this library's catalogue for books and articles on the selected country." Europe's most comprehensive research collection on development issues, providing an unparalleled range and depth of coverage."  Provides links to free full-text, extensive coverage for Asia.
  •  - over 26,000 full-text documents on development policy, including many of Asia
  • Google Scholar - Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from a wide variety of disciplines.
  • Population Index - provides author, subject and geographic access to journals and books on all aspects of population studies (fertility, migration etc.) Covers works published from 1986 to 2000.
  • International Society for Environmental Ethics Bibliography

6. Write, edit, cite

Take a look at some resources under Writing & Citing > Book Review

The Student Success Centre has great online resources for structuring and organizing, grammar, and editing.

Additional resources on writing a critical review (with focus on how to structure your essay):


Connecting keywords

AND - connect different ideas
e.g. China AND religion

OR - connect synonyms or like terms
e.g. China OR Chinese

NOT - use sparingly!
e.g. China NOT North

In Anthropology Plus andSocINDEX, use wildcard * to get variations.
e.g. Famil* will return family, families, familial

What is plagiarism?

(From Ashley Kate Branch's Pinterest

Plagiarism is "presenting borrowed ideas or wording as if they were your own" (University of Calgary Student Success Centre, 2012). Whether the act of plagiarism is intentional or accidental, the consequences are very serious.

Ways to avoid plagiarism:

  • Cite your sources both within the text of your paper as well as in a reference list at the end.
  • Hand in original assignments for each class. 
  • When taking notes from a source, re-write the ideas in your own words (avoid cut-and-paste) -- unless you plan on using it as a quote.
  • When citing someone else's exact words, use quotation marks AND cite the source. Quote sparingly.
  • Paraphrase properly: make sure you understand the gist, look away, and rewrite in your own words. Think about how this idea fits into the larger scheme of your paper. You still need to cite even though you're not using the author's exact words.

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