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Polina Zelmanova Case Study

Polina Zelmanova

During her undergraduate degree, Film Studies PhD candidate Polina Zelmanova held the position of Editor at Reinvention, Warwick’s journal of undergraduate research. She discusses how Warwick’s undergraduate research opportunities opened new doors for her.

Polina's experience with Reinvention

Polina developed an interest in undergraduate research in her second year – and the opportunity to become Reinvention's Assistant Editor came at the perfect moment.

“It felt like a great opportunity for professional development,” she explains. “I was drawn to the position because it would allow me to use my research skills in a professional context and provide me with a unique perspective into academic publishing across disciplines.”

She went on to become Editor of Reinvention the following year. “The most fulfilling thing was working with like-minded, passionate individuals. It was exciting to take a paper from submission to publication, helping authors share important work and contribute to their field.”

New paths to explore

Whilst Polina had originally wanted to pursue film production as a career, her experience with Reinvention made her aware of what a research-led career could offer. After completing a Masters, she submitted a PhD proposal and received funding from the Midlands4Cities AHRC.

“I always felt passionate about social activism and through my research work I felt like I could make a difference both within academia and beyond,” Polina continues, discussing her choice to focus on representation of sex in teen films post #MeToo.

“My main reason for staying at Warwick was the thriving research community. In the Film and TV department I felt like I was treated like a real researcher from my very first day. At the same time, the emphasis on undergraduate research and the opportunities given to undergraduate researchers created an exciting environment to work in.”

For the next generation of undergraduate researchers...

Polina focused on expanding opportunities for undergraduate researchers across all disciplines as editor of Reinvention. “We built on the existing book reviews section to also include reviews of exhibitions to encourage engagement with the arts sector, which is often overlooked,” she says.

“We also began developing resources and more detailed guidance for students interested in submitting research. I hope this helped undergraduate students improve their writing but also demystify the academic publishing process whilst helping them develop best practices.”

Polina’s advice to aspiring undergraduate researchers: take every opportunity you can to share your work, and build your network for advice, inspiration and, potentially, future collaborators.

Finally, she adds: “Don’t be afraid to fail or to try multiple times. It is common for papers to not be accepted on first try – in undergraduate publishing but and beyond. Don’t take this as a sign to give up. At worst you will end up with feedback and experience of the academic publishing process, at best you will be able to use the feedback to become a better researcher with an even better paper.”