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A Decade of Reinvention: What is Next in Store for Undergraduate Research?

James Young and Peter Halat, University of Warwick and Monash University

 

As we celebrate ten successful years of Reinvention, we also look forward to ten years and more of publishing undergraduate research. At Monash University Australia, there has been a wave of focus not just on undergraduate research, but also on interdisciplinary undergraduate research. Our incoming editor Peter Halat has witnessed this first hand through his involvement in Monash’s Global Leadership and Advanced Research Program, known as the GLARP. In the GLARP, enrolled students are teamed with students who are outside of their faculty, but who share a passion for undertaking research. By unifying different faculties of research, the GLARP counters a barrier of interdisciplinary research: institutional specialisation (Siedlok and Hibbert, 2013: 203). We hope that Reinvention continues to unify undergraduate research from all disciplines, and we look forward to publishing papers of an interdisciplinary nature.

Another challenge for each team member in the GLARP is to communicate and broaden their specialised research abilities and talents to the team, such that the team can generate a single research project which suits all team members. This necessity of communicating research to an interdisciplinary audience was further highlighted by this year’s iteration of the International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR; http://www.icurportal.com/), which marked Peter’s third straight year of involvement with the conference. The conference linked 11 institutions and many more disciplines over two full days of presentations and poster discussions. Comparing this with past editor Tim Ziegler’s perspective of ICUR 2014, it becomes apparent that ICUR continues to grow year by year (Ziegler, 2014). The ability to communicate with an interdisciplinary audience such as the audience at ICUR allows undergraduate researchers to expand their audience. Emily Fero, whose work examining the Dead Sea Scrolls is published in this issue, presented the same work to an interdisciplinary audience at Monash during ICUR 2016. We strive to ensure that Reinvention remains an amplifier for undergraduate researchers to communicate their work to the interdisciplinary audience of the world.

This amplification of undergraduate research through ICUR and Reinvention inevitably prompts the question of how this research is able to gain a much wider audience and reach students and academics around the world. The outgoing editor of Reinvention, James Young, is currently working in the digital publishing industry of historical primary sources, which has increased his exposure to the variety of different avenues that publishing is currently undertaking. Indeed, there is an increasing drive in universities to try to employ digital productions of primary sources in everyday teaching, with many noting the positive effects that this can have on the learning experience of students (Lee, 2002: 504). But this effect on learning experiences can also directly correlate to students undertaking research in their fields, irrespective of whether they are using digital primary sources.

The collaboration of new and innovative ways to undertake and present research is encapsulated in the work carried out by ICUR, and which the incoming editor Peter has been able to experience at first hand. ICUR has experienced some growing pains by implementing technology, battling dropped calls between institutions and fighting technological interruptions. It is perhaps for these potential issues that most conferences do not employ technology to broadcast the presentations internationally, but the fact that ICUR is growing year by year with more universities participating than a few years ago signifies that there is a demand to have more exposure to undergraduate research within institutions around the world (Vincin, 2014). Even in this year’s iteration of ICUR, eight universities were connected simultaneously and engaged within a student panel incorporating students from all over the world. The employment of new technology can play a huge part in moving towards being able to meet this demand.

As mentioned in the April editorial, Reinvention’s online-only publishing model is one of its greatest strengths, but not just because it means that the huge costs of printing are avoided (Young, 2017). Students and academics are beginning to use physical copies of research journals less and less as the digital versions are easier to access for students who do not necessarily spend a lot of time in a library; the same can also be said for digital primary sources and archives (Rogers, 2016: 112). The fact that Reinvention can celebrate its tenth anniversary as a journal solely dedicated to publishing undergraduate research highlights that publishing digitally does work and is more sustainable in the long term.

This sustainability means that each issue of Reinvention has been able to live up to its name of being an international and fully interdisciplinary journal. Volume 10, Issue 2 of Reinvention is no different, especially with the celebration of the BLASTER project. Last year, a few members of Reinvention’s editorial board attended the BLASTER conference in Leuphana, Germany. The aim of the conference was to devise the best practices in undergraduate research; students from universities in Lithuania, Germany, Slovenia, the Netherlands and the UK took part. As part of this conference, each university set up its own editorial board which accepted papers from within their institutions. This experience enabled these students to grasp the processes of academic research, and part of this special issue is a celebration of this.

There are two papers and two sets of book reviews in this issue which are not a part of the BLASTER project, but do directly speak to the goal that Reinvention has been trying to achieve since its inception in 2007. The first of these is by Emily Fero, a student of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International studies at Monash University. Through her close examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Fero argues against a hypothesis that a section of the Gospel of Matthew can be utilised in a hypothesis that it defends Pharisaic libel.

Our second paper comes from Helena Sewell of the University of Warwick, who touches upon a pertinent topic of homosexual representations on television through an exploration of two very popular series, Modern Family and Brothers & Sisters. The inclusion of gay characters in film and on television is a topic around which many discussions about Hollywood ultimately centre, especially when the annual reports from GLAAD regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ characters indicate that the industry is very slowly starting to change. Change is happening, however, and Sewell’s deft analysis of these two influential television shows highlights this.

The subject matter of the two book reviews in this issue are very different from each other and from the research papers in this issue. Federico Botta, an academic of the Warwick Business School and Sean Malcolm, a student of the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University, review Cathy O’Neil’s book, Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which discusses the danger that could be posed by mathematical algorithms.

The other set of reviews are on Stephen Graham’s book Vertical: The City to Satellites to Bunkers (2016). Our reviewers – Andrei Belibou, a Warwick student in the Department of Sociology, and Julian Yates, an academic in the Department of Human Geography at Monash University – delve into Graham’s 15 diverse chapters analysing the verticality of the world’s urban landscape.

These diverse papers and reviews that are included in this issue encapsulate what Reinvention is, and what it has always been about. For James, who is now leaving the journal as editor and passing the stewardship over to Peter, the experience of working with undergraduate research and researchers has been an immensely rewarding one. There is no doubt that working on the journal for the past year strengthened his drive to progress into the world of academic publishing. Peter, who has been working as an assistant editor for the past year, will be leading a new Reinvention team forward to publish Volume 11, Issue 1 in April 2018.


References

Lee, John K. (2002), ‘Digital History in the History/ Social Studies Classroom’, The History Teacher, 35 (4), 503–17

Rogers, H. (2016), ‘Academic Journals in the Digital Age: An Editor’s Perspective’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 21 (1), 112–17

Siedlok, F. and P. Hibbert (2013), ‘The Organisation of Interdisciplinary Research; Modes, Drivers and Barriers’, International Journal of Management Reviews, 16 (2), 192–210

Vincin, J. (2014), 'Editorial: Technology and Education: Benefits, Possibilities and Limitations', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 7, Issue 1, available at http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume7issue1/editorial/, accessed 13 October 2017

Young, J. (2017), 'Undergraduate Research: To Fund or Not To Fund?', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 10, Issue 1, available at http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume10issue1/editorial, accessed 13 October 2017

Ziegler, T. (2014), 'A Global View of Undergraduate Research Reflected in Reinvention', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 7, Issue 2, available at http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume7issue2/editorial/, accessed 24 October 2017

 

To cite this paper please use the following details: Halet, P and Young, J. (2017), 'A Decade of Reinvention: What is Next in Store for Undergraduate Research?', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 10, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume10issue2/editorial. Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.