How many people have read your 10-page term paper? If you're like most students, the answer is probably somewhere around two: you and your professor. Exceptional work by undergraduate students, done for class or for independent research, often goes unnoticed, and research is not finished until its results are shared with others. With an increasing emphasis in universities on undergraduate research experiences, Undergraduate Research Journals offer undergraduate students the chance to complete the scientific process, including writing up the finished research, having it peer reviewed, and ultimately having it published in the scientific literature.
There are several reasons that undergraduate students should consider submitting their work to an Undergraduate Research Journal:
1. To illustrate the high quality of undergraduates' scholarly work. Scholarly work encompasses a broad range of investigation and includes more traditional data-based activity, as well as literature reviews and historical research.
2. Transmitting the results of one's scholarship through a printed medium requires development of formal, written communication skills. According to employers and professional and graduate school faculty, increasing undergraduates' written communication skills would make those students more attractive for employment and for admission to post graduate training or education. Journals provide an excellent opportunity for students to list a professional publication on their resume.
3. Increasing students' success in life following graduation. Because modeling can facilitate learning, showing students what their peers have accomplished should help to encourage ever widening circles of students to become engaged in and excited about research.
4. Undergraduate research is a vital component in education. The literature suggests that students take projects more seriously and learn more when the project is directed towards an external rather than an internal audience such as a class assignment.
5. Undergraduate research journals provide an incentive for students to write papers. Writing papers empowers students to share their knowledge with others and promote discussion in the undergraduate community to which they belong.
I encourage you to take a look at the interdisciplinary journals as well as the journals specific to your area of study. There is a wide range of journals available within most disciplines including such specific topics as marine science and bioethics. Although mostly geared toward scholarly works, many of the journals encourage creative submissions of fiction and art. Of the hundreds of Undergraduate Research Journals currently in publication, I have compiled a list of the journals published by U.S. institutions that will accept submissions from students across the country and even internationally. Plains Song Review, RURALS, and Nebraska Anthropologist are all held and published here at UNL. If you are aware of others that you would like to see included, or there is a problem or question about a specific journal, please let me know.
Undergraduate research not only bridges the gap between knowledge and experience but has the benefit of laying the groundwork for career exploration and development. The opportunity for undergraduates to publish in a national journal is an added value to the overall education experience and to the process of self-discovery. (Undergraduate Research Community)
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