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Editorial: A Culture of Collaboration

Tim Ziegler, Monash University

 

The publication of Volume 8, Issue 2 of Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research marks the end of my involvement with the journal, after I joined its editorial team in 2013. Having successfully completed a three-year Bachelor of Science degree at Monash University, in 2016 I will begin an Honours thesis, as well as working part-time as a palaeontology research technician. These three years represent three-quarters of Monash's involvement in Reinvention, as well as the first three years of the International Conference of Undergraduate Research. My responsibilities with the journal have expanded my professional network both at Monash and at the University of Warwick, facilitating insights into how information flows around an institution. I have seen how undergraduates' access to research depends on a culture that proactively shares research seminars, internships and calls for volunteers. The staff with whom I have worked frequently acknowledged the efforts still needed to link within-faculty networks, but overwhelmingly they want to boost students' access to opportunities across each institution. These meetings showed me that, for undergraduate students to contribute to a diverse research culture, we must be flexible, attentive and responsive to our colleagues' needs. As part of my editorial responsibilities, I have also researched the contemporary priorities of many disciplines, along with their methodological criteria. Further, I have learned how undergraduate research is perceived and performed worldwide. Increasingly, I have come to understand the variety of forms that novel research takes; this journal has hosted conceptual offerings, incremental additions to valuable datasets, new applications of technology and more. This has provided a critical perspective on my own performance, and on how undergraduates can access the diverse range of research opportunities that emerge. I have seen Reinvention mature over my three years' involvement. Student authors are submitting articles from an increasingly diverse geographic range, frequently with faculty co-authors. They are also more free to explore discipline interactions without anxiety, often developing novel ideas as a consequence. The variety of authorship in Volume 8, Issue 2 reflects, in my opinion, a sincere and increasing uptake of undergraduate research philosophies worldwide. We have been excited to receive submissions that not only breach hierarchies, but span institutions as well. I am not surprised that our scientific articles reflect a strong collaborative ethos; the complexity of natural systems is rarely explained by a single discipline's output. It is gratifying to present in this edition four articles investigating biological systems, in quite independent contexts: psychology, ecology, biochemistry and industrial applications.

Research that relates humans and the environment frequently concerns the direction and scale of our human impacts. This is not the case in 'The Relationship Between Connectedness to Nature, Environmental Values, and Pro-Environmental Behaviours' by Marybeth Pereira (Charles Darwin University, Australia) and Peter M. Forster (University of Worcester, UK). These authors reverse that perspective to explore how our interactions with the natural environment shape opinions and behaviours, with implications for personal health and public policy. The second article in this quartet is 'Pilot Study Posits Predictive Model for Population Densities of an Invasive Intertidal Brachyuran Crab in New England, USA' by Cory W. Child and Nicholas J. Jouett (respectively Eckerd College and University of Rhode Island, USA). This article has been co-written by a postgraduate and undergraduate, and confers professional advantage to both. I commend Jouett for adopting the tradition of scientific generosity by facilitating Child's article. The authors present a novel and effective method for predicting local population density for an invasive marine crab in North America. As well as presenting their method for critique, this article allows other researchers to adapt or reproduce Child and Jouett's technique to other organisms.

The third article in this scientific group is 'Enantioselective Multidimensional Gas Chromatography for the Analysis of Selected Monoterpenic Compounds in Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil' by Rachel West (University of Warwick, UK), Yong Foo Wong and Phillip J. Marriott (both of Monash University, Australia). As in Child and Jouett's work, this article describes a novel application of existing technology to establish the foundation of future research. Tea tree oil production is an economically significant industry in Australia and overseas but, as with many products, it is vulnerable to supply chain adulteration. The authors' authentication of oil purity can be used to ensure that consumers continue to receive high-quality products. Another article that describes the industrial and economic potential of biological products comes from Mohit Santilal (University of Westminster, UK), author of 'Fermentative Hydrogen Production from Molasses Using Pure and Co-cultures of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium beijerinckii by Batch Study'. Santilal's work is a fine example of academic research completed under the time and finance constraints of an undergraduate degree, and shows that these constraints do not exclude meaningful or successful work.

Two further articles, both authored by University of Warwick students, investigate how we reflect contemporary subjects in public spaces. Eleanor Barnett provides the first of these, with 'Commemorative Funerary Monuments in Reformation Bristol c. 1490–1640'. In this outstanding contribution to the social and religious history of British cities, Barnett has independently collated a comprehensive record of Bristol's effigies, tombs and other monuments. From this foundation, a broad-ranging analysis identifies the intersecting influences of religion, mercantilism and hierarchy on these striking and significant features. Carmen Thong shares with Barnett an interest in the human narratives in a built environment, but diverges toward subversive imagery and a theoretical conceptualisation of her own city of interest. Thong's article, 'Literary Cartography: Dark Tourism in Post-Troubles Belfast', tacks toward anthropology and a post-modern, consumption critique of how we view other peoples' histories. Each of these articles reflects the originality and drive I see as hallmarks of undergraduate research.

This issue of the journal also marks the departure of our Assistant Editors at Monash, Taarika Bangalore, Kirsten Carlaw and Josh Marlow. Your contribution and service has provided talented undergraduate researchers from across the globe a most valuable opportunity. You have escorted these first-time authors and their articles through a rigorous process of selection, peer review and publication; you have also represented the journal to referees, citing authors and other stakeholders at the highest professional levels. In this way, you have ensured that Reinvention operates at the level of any learned academic journal. On behalf of the entire editorial team, IATL and the Monash-Warwick Alliance, I extend my thanks to each of you. This change of staff makes 2016 a time of change and renewal for Reinvention. There can be no individual more capable and better suited to this challenge than our assistant editor and incoming chief editor, Joe Grimwade. Joe's exceptional editorial insight, diligent work ethic and ceaseless commitment to his authors' needs all make him the ideal character to shepherd Reinvention through this period. I look forward to seeing the journal extend and mature under his leadership. Assisting Joe in this task will be two new Warwick-based assistant editors, Ben McClatchie and Dave Bernard, three new Monash-based assistant editors, Laura Riccardi, Alex Tan and Jana Howden and a new Monash-based Book Reviews Editor, Bernard Keo. I welcome you all to your roles, and hope you enjoy the privilege of serving Reinvention as much as I have.

 

To cite this paper please use the following details: Ziegler, T. (2015), 'A Culture of Collaboration', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 8, Issue 2, http://www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/archive/volume8issue2/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.