How and why you should be involved in next year’s Undergraduate Research Journal and student publications

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The collection of undergraduate and graduate research journals were available to presenters free of charge throughout the day Friday, April 17, 2015. Preface photo/Sarah Cawthon
The collection of undergraduate and graduate research journals were available to presenters free of charge throughout the day Friday, April 17, 2015. Preface photo/Sarah Cawthon

Staff Writer

Even with this year’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) and student publications behind us, it’s never too early to begin thinking about opportunities for next year.
   “The major goal for us is getting students involved in the research process,” said Jamie Smith, assistant professor of political science and chair of the undergraduate research conference committee. “I think a lot of students are nervous about getting in front of a crowd and sharing their research, but at the end of the day, I think most students have a really good experience at the U.R.C.”
   Smith also noted the many benefits of presenting work at the URC.
“There’s academic benefits to getting feedback on your work, it’s a very constructive atmosphere. People are not being critical, it’s more like something along the lines of ‘have you thought about [this topic]’ or, ‘here’s one way to make this paper better,’” Smith said. “In terms of broad benefits, they’re not just academic. This is also a resume builder, if you have presented your research, I think that employers and graduate schools [are more interested] in you.”
Many of these benefits were also touched on by Libby Elmore, the editor in chief of IU South Bend’s New Views on Gender, one of the many publications edited and assembled by students.
“I think it’s a really good experience, it has greatly improved my writing and it’s fun to be a part of a something and see how it all comes together,” Elmore said. “It’s also a nice opportunity to learn how to coordinate with people professionally and to learn things that you don’t normally do.”
Elmore also pointed out that these benefits affect both students who submit work to the journal and students who are involved in the editing process. According to Elmore, to become the editor-in-chief for one of IU South Bend’s student publications, perspective students must apply and will then be interviewed by faculty from the department of the publication. Student’s can also apply to be one of the assistant editors of the various on campus publications. These positions are generally chosen by the current editor.
For students to get work into one of the on campus publications, they have to submit the work to the editor-in-chief. Afterwards, the student’s personal information is removed, and the submission is sent to the other editors. Together, the editors and editor-in-chief decide what submissions should make it in a publication, and decide on any edits that the submissions might need.
Similarly, submissions to the URC go through a committee. However, the process is different because the conference is not a publication and is covering a wide range of topics dealing with a large variety of different disciplines.
“Students that want to participate send an abstract, about 250 words. We review them and put them together into a program,” Smith said. “It’s a pretty open conference, our major goal is student engagement, so, we don’t have a very strict criteria [on what goes in]. Based on the abstract, you can tell that most of the work has had a lot of thought put into it.”
Smith also pointed out that the conference accepts more than research papers, but also art, fiction work, and other student work that might not typically be associated with research. In other words, the conference seeks to accept undergraduate work as a whole, and not just what is commonly considered research.
IU South Bend’s student publications accept a wide variety of work depending on the journal. Analecta is focused on creative work (poetry, fiction, visual arts, creative non-fiction, etc), New Views on Gender focuses on a wide variety of student work dealing with gender, the Undergraduate Research Journal focuses on student research from a wide variety of disciplines, and the Undergraduate Research Journal of History focuses on student work related to historical research.

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