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Editorial: Reinventing Yourself through Undergraduate Research

Jure Jeric, University of Warwick

Previous editorials have focused on discussing the educational and academic aims of Reinvention, and undergraduate research more generally (Metcalfe, 2008; Freer, 2010). Although the two goals can at times seem to be in conflict, their underlying principle is how and why undergraduate students contribute to a common pursuit of knowledge. In this issue, I would like to stress the importance of a two-way exploration process, both in relation to the world around us and to our inside worlds. The latter refers to the indirect benefits of participating in research projects and of attending academic conferences – activities that are invaluable for academic growth. However, what makes them truly important for academic producers at the undergraduate level are the opportunities to explore, make mistakes and learn about themselves.

Personal development through undergraduate research has to date not attracted a great deal of attention from scholars. The aim of this editorial is not to provide a systematic evaluation of how students reinvent themselves through doing undergraduate research, but rather to offer some insights and first-hand experience from our contributors, which, hopefully, might stimulate future academic thinking on the subject.

Whenever we have an opportunity to gather feedback from our contributors, they note that becoming a published author is an intellectually challenging experience. Very often they highlight some of the benefits of the peer-review process, such as honing their writing and research skills, or advancing their academic capabilities. However, there does not seem to be a consensus when it comes to how the publishing experience has influenced them on a personal level. Some of the students proudly claim that 'it has reinforced my desire to become an academic', while others have discovered new career paths, such as publishing or public service. It is always interesting to find out how they have learnt something new about themselves; for example, 'I have more self-confidence that I am really aware of', or 'by doing my research I have finally found out the answer to the question that has provoked me for years, even before I started my degree'. This variety of experiences is certainly an argument in favour of the importance of catalysing undergraduate research, not only as academic experience, but also as a personally formative one.

As we have discussed in previous editorials, the reinvention of academia is not limited merely to publishing some of the very best pieces of undergraduate research; it is also focused on organising conferences, where students have the opportunity to disseminate their research and to engage in academic debates. In this respect, I am delighted to say that Reinvention has continued its fruitful co-operation with the British Conference of Undergraduate Research, which was held at the University of Plymouth on 15 and 16 April 2013. We will continue with the tradition of producing special BCUR issues, with the next one due to be published in summer 2013.

We are also excited about the forthcoming International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR), which is a further step in the Monash-Warwick Strategic Partnership. The conference will be a 24-hour event staged concurrently at Monash University in Australia, Monash University in Malaysia, Monash University in South Africa and Warwick University on 10 May 2013. It is a conference where current undergraduate students across all disciplines will be invited to showcase the fruits of their research experiences. We are convinced that the presenters and attendees will find this event to be academically and personally fulfilling, as it has been the case with the authors who are publishing their first papers in this issue of Reinvention.

We are proud to showcase a variety of different papers in the current issue, which offer completely new perspectives on some of the most common themes from our daily lives such as love, soccer and happiness. In fact, offering a new perspective is exactly what makes undergraduate research such an important part of academia. Therefore, it is a real pleasure to present six inspiring papers, which demonstrate the hard work their authors put into exploring the world around them, and learning about themselves. The search for happiness has motivated Christopher Roth (University of Oxford) to quantify this inevitable ingredient of our lives and to test 'Darwin's Happiness Hypothesis: Subjective Well-Being in an Individual Panel from an Evolutionary Perspective'. Eric J. Parziale and Prof. Philip A. Yates also adopt a statistically rigorous approach to learn more about 'Keep the Ball! The Value of Ball Possession in Soccer' (Saint Michael's College, USA).

Another duo of papers focuses on researching love, which is certainly not an easy challenge considering the wealth of philosophical and scientific literature – and fiction – written about this spiritus movens. Theodore Bass (University of Warwick) looks for an answer on 'Can individuals motivated by Rousseau's portrayal of "amour-propre" live virtuously', while Lisa Dale (Staffordshire University) researches 'How an Early Life Attachment Affects Adult Romantic Love'.

A similar desire to contribute to the betterment of our world through a common pursuit of knowledge with a high level of creativity has motivated Margarita Lymbouris (University of Westminster) to research 'Effects of Various Oxidants and Antioxidants on Fibrin Polymerisation', and Jessica O'Leary (Monash University) to dive into 'Where there are many women there are many witches: The Malleus Maleficarum and the Gendering of Witchcraft'. Although at first glance these two papers do not seem to have many similarities, what links them together is the fact that they are offering completely new perspectives on very well-known concepts that we sometimes wrongly take for granted. Both of them serve as a good reminder that challenging the existing agendas should be an ongoing process.

The latter seems to be the only way to achieve sustainable academia and education. This is precisely the topic of the first set of books reviews we are proud to showcase in this issue. Mark Boulet (Monash University), Zartasha Athar and Muyiwa Oyinlola (University of Warwick) offer some valuable insights into Sustainability education: Perspectives and Practice Across Higher Education, edited by Paula Jones, David Selby and Stephen Sterling. The second set of book reviews focus on Joshua Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, with reviews written by Prof. Martin A. Conway (City University London) and Daniel Kilov (Macquarie University). Linking back to the importance of undergraduate research as a two-way process of exploring the world around us and our inside worlds, it is interesting to recognise that the book reviews combine critical analysis of two very exciting works with a personal touch from our reviewers, making them thought-provoking and inspiring both for the authors themselves, and, hopefully, our readers.

I would like to conclude by expressing our gratitude to Caroline Gibson, who is leaving her current role as Reinvention's Managing Editor to become one of IATL's Academic Managers. She will however continue to work closely with the journal and in particular our relationship with Monash through the Monash-Warwick Alliance.


References

Freer, A. (2010), 'Editorial: The Growth of Reinvention', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3 (1), available at www.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/archive/volume3issue1/editorial, accessed 20 April 2013

Metcalfe, D. (2008), 'Reinventing the Journal?', Reinvention: A Journal of Undergraduate Research, 1 (1), available at www.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/archive/volume1issue1/metcalfe, accessed 20 April 2013

To cite this paper please use the following details: Jeric, J. (2013), 'Editorial: Reinventing Yourself Through Undergraduate Research,' Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 6, Issue 1, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume6issue1/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.