Connecting undergraduate research journals under the aegis of CUR
Mac Vogelsang, left, and Shahin Saberi
Shahin Saberi is a student from Indiana University-Bloomington whose undergraduate research experience has led him along a path that included serving as co-editor-in-chief of the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research. Shahin saw a need for the individuals that work on undergraduate research journals at different institutions to have a way to communicate with each other. Earlier this year, he proposed a network of undergraduate research journals. We are happy to announce that, just last week, CUR launched a new Student Journals Community. Shahin shared his undergraduate research story with CUR and what influenced him to propose the community to CUR.
My undergraduate experience at Indiana University-Bloomington was heavily influenced by research. I engaged in behavioral neuropharmacology work that evaluated mechanisms to circumvent the unwanted side-effects of opioids while maintaining therapeutic efficacy in pain alleviation. Moreover, I served as co-editor-in-chief (co-EIC) of the Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research (IUJUR), an open-access, multidisciplinary journal that represents the work of undergraduate students at all Indiana University campuses. As co-EIC, I sought to make a bigger impact on undergraduate research engagement at IU by allowing for research to be perceived as more accessible and achievable for students. To do so, we organized novel initiatives, such as IU Research Day, a day full of professional development and research-related programming. In the ideation process for this event, we looked at other universities to see how they coordinate similar events. Our strategy of researching other universities’ undergraduate research engagement initiatives was also employed as we pursued mechanisms to increase the impact of IUJUR, and this led me to consider the creation of an undergraduate research journal (URJ) network.
URJs create unique avenues by which young scholars can engage with research more profoundly. They offer a more viable path for undergraduates to earn publication, and student-run journals provide valuable professional opportunities, as student leaders can experience academic publishing from a distinct vantage point and develop as leaders in research. URJs often play an integral role in research engagement programs at the institutional level, and there are hundreds of URJs established at institutions across the country. They often align with similar overarching objectives and practices, such as open-access publishing and multidisciplinary content. However, there remains a dearth of collaborative spirit between institutional URJs. Moreover, the incredible opportunity for intellectual growth through my role in IUJUR was only possible through IUJUR’s previous establishment, and I did not think that it should be up to chance that a student can have a similar opportunity for development only if his/her institution has a URJ.
Mac Vogelsang, my fellow co-EIC of IUJUR, and I decided to pursue the creation of a network that connects leaders of URJs across the country, enhances the impact that each URJ can create in their undergraduate research community, and creates resources that enable URJ development at universities lacking their own student journals. After reaching out to CUR’s executive leadership, we were met with overwhelming support. Mac and I traveled to Kennesaw State University for NCUR 2019, where we proposed our initiative to CUR leaders and received positive feedback.
As a result, CUR has worked with us to start the Student Journals Community, a place for passionate individuals to discuss any and all ideas related to URJs. This can range from the sharing of best practices, to answering questions about journal matters, to even collaborating to create helpful resources for student personnel. We’re excited to see this CUR community grow and ultimately act as a platform for institutional URJs to become more interconnected and foster student development. Check it out today!
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