A New Year: Get Involved with Our Student Research Journal

A New Year:  Get Involved with Our Student Research Journal 
by Adrienne Mathewson

New Year’s Day is usually the time for reflecting on the past year’s accomplishments and planning for the new year. In January of 2014, I began my second semester as editor-in-chief of our student governed Student Research Journal (SRJ) with high expectations for our Spring issue. I was so excited and honored when the former editor-in-chief, Elyse Myers, selected me to take over the journal last June. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to be a challenging and fun experience. I was right. Overseeing the publication of the Fall issue was quite the experience, and as I settle into my role, I feel confident that producing the Spring issue will be even better.

Every semester, new team members join the SRJ editorial team as content and copy editors. The Managing Editor oversees the editorial team by providing training and assigning manuscripts to be critically evaluated through a strict double-blind peer review process. Submissions are accepted on a rotating basis, which means there are always manuscripts for editorial team members to review.

So what drives students to apply for editorial positions with the journal? For most of us, the opportunity to work on an acclaimed, student-governed scholarly journal is the main motive; and after we join, we realize it is a truly extraordinary opportunity. Not only is there the prestige of producing a scholarly journal- which, to be honest, looks really great on a resume – the training we receive on how to critically evaluate manuscripts makes us all better researchers and writers.

Some of the recent applicants to the journal expressed that they wanted to contribute to our SLIS community as well as further their own research, editing, and writing skills. As one applicant stated “I think the ability to evaluate and synthesize scholarship for clarity and consistency is a valuable skill for information professionals”, and another said that the chance to learn more about research and writing for scholarly publication was one reason for applying for the position.

Another way for students to become involved in the journal is to submit their manuscripts for consideration. Submitting your work to be scrutinized thoroughly by your peers with the possibility of rejection is a scary thought, but that’s part of the process, part of developing into a professional role. One has to be willing to get out there, make the leap and even if there’s rejection, use that rejection as a starting point for the next leap. One benefit to submitting a manuscript for peer review is that the process is extensive; peer reviewers perform a critical evaluation and provide an extensive feedback report. If a student is willing to open their minds to the process, learn from the feedback to revise and re-submit their paper, this is a valuable learning experience.

One of my goals this semester is to work closely with authors who submit manuscripts that may not quite be up to the scholarly journal level to encourage them to use that feedback and revise, revise, and revise until their manuscript is up to par. It is the rare writer who can produce a fully publishable article or book on the first try; however, doing the extra work to become a published writer is definitely worth the effort.

Outside of my graduate student work and Editor-in-Chief position, I work as a freelance writer and editor. As an editor, I face the challenge of providing critical input which strengthens the writing without discouraging the writer from continuing his/her work. As a writer, I face the harsh critic inside of me; however, I know that when I can take a step back from my personal ego and fears, I can then move forward by accepting outside positive criticism.

As LIS professionals and graduate students, taking that leap into the scholarly journal world by participating in our very own Student Research Journal is an opportunity nobody should pass up. There are plenty of opportunities to be involved either by submitting manuscripts or by working on the editorial team. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and new editorial team positions open up every semester.

I encourage every LIS graduate student to read the journal, consider submitting a manuscript and/or applying for an editorial team member position. I am always available for questions or discussion so if you feel a little hesitant about participating, you can contact me, I’m happy to discuss the process with you.  As the new year unfolds, join us at SRJ as we surge forward to publish another quality scholarly journal. 




Adrienne Mathewson is an independent information professional who is in her second year of the SLIS program. She is the Editor-in-Chief of San José State University’s Student Research Journal. You can email her here.