Instead of publish or perish, how about publish and flourish? This is the goal of the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Alberta (JURA), a peer-reviewed journal tailored for publications written by undergraduate students. The deadline for all submissions to the 2016-17 full edition is Dec 31.
“This is a great opportunity for undergraduates as it helps guide them toward their first published research article. Scientific publications offer students a chance to stand out in an ever-increasing competitive environment,” says Maurice Mohr, the journal’s new editor-in-chief and PhD candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology.
Publishing in JURA is similar to publishing in other journals: there is a rigorous process.
“The only difference is that JURA would still accept a manuscript that would be rejected elsewhere due to reasons such as ‘lack of novelty of the research findings.’ In other words, JURA does not put as much weight on the novelty of the research material or the scientific impact of the research findings as most undergraduate students are working on smaller, partial projects that would not be publishable on their own,” says Mohr.
Still, like any paper, study rationale and objectives are outlined on the basis of existing literature; methodology and analysis are scientifically sound; results are presented in an appropriate way; and the interpretation and discussion is justified by the results.
Increasing competition for grad school positions
In the last 30 years, the number of undergraduate students in Canada has almost doubled, rising from 550,000 to 994,000 students, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada 2010 report, Trends in Higher Education. This rapid increase inherently leads to a growing competition among university alumni for positions in graduate school or jobs in industry and the public sector.
“It’s the currency of academia. Publications provide value to alumni’s professional profile whether in academia or beyond. There are very few forums where undergraduates can publish,” says Mohr.
JURA’s reach expands to a larger audience
Since its formation in 2011, JURA has been a University of Calgary-based and graduate student-run journal, which has published over 100 research contributions from undergraduate researchers of various disciplines and faculties.
In 2016, Krysta Powers and Kelsey Collins, the outgoing editors-in-chief, handed over the journal lead to a new and passionate team of editors, consisting of four graduate students: Maurice Mohr, editor-in-chief, Kinesiology; Yang Yu, managing editor, Biomedical Engineering; Lindsay Loundagin, publishing editor, Kinesiology; and Stacy Gibson, publishing editor, Health Sciences.
“The expansion of the JURA editorial board from two to four editors was a response to the growing number of article submissions in 2014 and 2015, facilitated by the successful journal management and advertisement of the former editors Krysta and Kelsey,” says Mohr.
The goal of the current editorial team is to build upon this growth and establish JURA as a respected and well-known undergraduate journal at the University of Calgary as well as at universities across the province of Alberta and beyond.
The JURA website and submission portal has been moved to the Open Access Publishing Service offered by the University of Calgary Library. This move strengthens JURA’s open access policy for the future and guarantees the wide distribution of undergraduate research to all interested readers. In addition, JURA has partnered with several organizations at the University of Calgary to highlight and reward high-quality, scientific presentations at undergraduate research symposia. Examples include JURA Best Poster Certificates awarded to student presenters at the Markin USRP in Health and Wellness Student Research Symposium or the 17th Annual Alberta Biomedical Engineering Conference in Banff. Until the end of the year, JURA will be present at two more undergraduate events to spread the word and inform undergraduate researchers of the great opportunities offered by JURA: Neuroscience Research Night, which was held Nov. 9, and the Student Union Undergrad Research Symposium on Dec. 1.
Dec. 31 deadline for all submissions to the 2016-2017 full edition
The next 2016-17 full edition will feature full research articles, reviews, and extended abstracts. Additional motivation for students to publish their undergraduate research is the 2016-17 JURA Best Paper Award, a $250 recognition for the student who submits the highest scoring full research article in terms of clarity of writing and presentation of research findings. The deadline for all submissions to the 2016-17 full edition will be Dec. 31, 2016. For any questions, please check the JURA website or email the editors at email@example.com for details.