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Editorial: Change and Continuity

by David Metcalfe, University of Warwick

Reinvention: A Journal of Undergraduate Research is now in its fifth issue and its third year. In this – admittedly short – time, it has seen a number of changes. It has grown from a journal based at two institutions to one accepting submissions from undergraduates around the world. From its third issue, the journal began publishing manuscripts written collaboratively by undergraduates and faculty members. These developments have led to a greater number of submissions and, consequently, an increase in the quality and appeal of our published articles.

While these changes have taken place, Reinvention has also engaged with its own continuity. With the funding of the journal's parent institution – the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research – ending in 2010, discussions began to ensure continuity of the journal. Fortunately, being an online publication, the costs in question are minimal, and we are committed to building on the achievements of the publication over its first three years. However, in this difficult economic climate, we understand the need to secure long-term financial support and will look closely over the next few months at the issue of sustainability. Any suggestions for addressing this financial challenge will be gratefully received at the usual address.

Financial sustainability is not the only obstacle facing undergraduate research journals in the long term. In our first editorial, we noted that, of 'twenty-four undergraduate philosophy journals listed in one online catalogue from 1998, only three continue to accept contributions' (Metcalfe, 2007). Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is, in part, due to a high turnover of undergraduates. This phenomenon is particularly relevant to the current issue, which will be my last as Editor. In the United Kingdom, where Reinvention is based, undergraduate degrees are typically three, or sometimes four, years' duration. Few students possess the knowledge or insight to become involved with academic publishing during their first year; as a result, only students recruited early on will commit two years to the project. Running a journal is a steep learning curve, and one not eased by biannual publication. An experienced undergraduate Editor, at the end of their two year tenure, will have co-ordinated just four issues. Other undergraduate journals have fallen by the wayside as enthusiasm and experience graduate alongside their editorial teams.

Fortunately, as a collaborative venture, Reinvention is well placed to meet this challenge. One aspect of our collaborative model is that the Managing Editor is a part-time member of staff. The journal also enjoys close support from the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research whose staff provide an additional means of continuity between undergraduate editorial teams. As well as ensuring continuity, this environment will allow new undergraduate staff to learn about academic publishing at a realistic pace.

With my 'retirement' this year, we have introduced an amended editorial hierarchy. Future issues will be coordinated by an Editor supported by three Sub-Editors, ideally spread across different academic faculties. As well as distributing the workload, this new structure will introduce additional expertise to the editorial team, and it will also provide continuity for future issues as the four editors are likely to graduate in different years. I shall remain, as Editor Emeritus, in a position to mentor the incoming Editor as he/she approaches his/her first issue in April 2010.

However, it remains my privilege this year to introduce the October issue. First, Princy Mittal and colleagues at the Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences & Research (India) consider the use of oral Montelukast for seasonal allergic rhinitis in children. This large clinical trial shows what can be achieved by students and doctors working together in a healthcare setting. Second, Nadia Kanoun and colleagues at Queen Margaret University (Scotland) consider the validity of the activPALâ„¢ activity monitor. Continuing the broader theme of wellbeing, two papers address the issue of employment: David Hunn (University of Birmingham) asks about the relationship between unemployment and legacies of Communism in Leipzig, Germany, and Matthew Pesko of the University of Wisconsin-Maddison (USA) looks at the impact of Wisconsin's Family Care Policy on employment for people with disabilities. Employment is an important area of concern in the current economic climate.

Minna Lehtonen (University of Bedfordshire) explores a relationship between board games and the development of religious tolerance in children, while Lydia Marshall (University of Warwick) looks at the UNICEF Protective Environment Framework for children and its application in Swaziland. Craig Gladman, Troy Boellaard and colleagues from the Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) use visible light power spectral density analysis to distinguish between different road surfaces.

This range of papers testifies to the diversity of the undergraduate research experience. As well as universal challenges, undergraduate researchers must negotiate discipline-specific research processes. Such processes are particularly complex – for academic and undergraduate researchers alike – in the context of state-sponsored health service. For this reason, Srimathy Vijayan and senior colleagues explore challenges faced by healthcare students undertaking research. We hope this final paper encourages future authors to interrogate, as well as work within, existing research processes.

References

Metcalfe, D. (2007), 'The launch of an undergraduate research journal', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Launch Issue, http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/pastissues/launchissue/editorial, accessed 22 October 2009

To cite this paper please use the following details: Metcalfe, D. (2009), 'Editorial: Change and Continuity', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 2, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/archive/volume2issue2/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@warwick.ac.uk