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Reinvention: Thoughts On a Name

Joe Grimwade, Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Warwick.

When I explain my work for this journal, I am asked one question more frequently than any other: 'Why "Reinvention"?' The straightforward answer, that our name is a legacy from the initial involvement of the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research almost a decade ago, is somewhat unsatisfying. I expect that every editor who has considered this question more fundamentally has arrived at individual answers. Writing in 2008 at a point where the academic community was beginning to view undergraduate research as less of a 'cottage industry' and more of a 'movement' (Blanton, 2008: 233ff.), David Metcalfe, Reinvention's founding editor, debated how much the publication was a reinvention, and how much a continuation, of the traditional journal format (Metcalfe, 2008; see also Jeric, 2012 and 2013). Today, our editorial board continues to discuss just what makes this undergraduate journal unique, and how we engage as undergraduate researchers with the wider research community. Our team necessarily changes in its composition as graduation rolls around each year, so it seems to me that this continual process of revisiting and reappraisal is appropriate. Indeed, as a Classicist, I cannot help but consider it to be at the very root of the word 'reinvention', which originates in the Latin verb invenio (in+venio), 'I come across', or 'I find' (Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1982: 957-58). Thus, to reinvent is to come across, find, or examine something once more. It describes what our authors, their mentors, our readers, and we ourselves do, time and again.

For our authors, the demand that they reinvent their approach is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the revision process after their work has been subject to critique by expert peer reviewers. A potentially original piece of research essentially invents an argument, study, or experiment, before conducting analysis and reaching certain conclusions, somewhat akin to the Roman idea of inventio in oratory. As Cicero put it:

Inventio est excogitatio rerum verarum aut veri similium quae causam probabilem reddant. [Invention is the discovery of valid or seemingly valid arguments to render one's cause plausible.]
(Cicero, De Inventione, 1.9)

The plausibility of 'seemingly valid arguments' in relation to the conclusions of an article must, of course, be tested, and the debate over how high to set the bar is a perennial one (see Hanley, Gibson, Metcalfe and Lambert, 2008). Reinvention's requirement that the standard of our articles be equivalent to those published in other academic journals means that the publication process can seem arduous for authors engaging with it for the first time, and manuscripts do fall by the wayside; perhaps the number of articles we publish is restricted as a result. Yet, in the long term, the approach pays dividends. Unlike an exam at the end of a degree course, we do not expect undergraduates to nail it first time - further reading, revisions, and refinements are vital stages of the research process, itself a tremendously exciting, if sometimes frustrating, voyage of discovery.

It has been recognised that undergraduate research encourages students to see themselves as invested in their academic community, forming a personal identity in an experience which is beneficial whether they subsequently forge a career in academia or not (Palmer, Hunt, Neal and Wuetherick, 2015: 411-26; see also Jeric, 2013).[1] In this way, undergraduate research can contribute to an individual's personal reinvention.

For academic mentors as well, the extra work of engaging undergraduates in research can prove extremely rewarding. Following the United States' Boyer Commission report of 1998, which recommended higher education institutions integrate undergraduate research experiences into their courses (Boyer, 1998), and the subsequent influential work of the Council on Undergraduate Research (especially its advice on best practice, Hensel, 2012), the concept of undergraduates as researchers has become gradually accepted. Reinvention, for instance, benefits from the goodwill of tens of peer reviewers every issue, all professional academics and experts in their fields, who treat the work of undergraduate authors seriously and with respect. The journal Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning recently devoted an entire special issue to 'Undergraduate Research Mentoring', which included articles discussing good mentoring practice and the tangible benefits for faculty staff of mentoring undergraduates through research projects (Shanahan, Ackley-Holbrook, Hall, Stewart and Walkington, 2015: 359-76; Vandermaas-Peeler, Miller and Peeples, 2015: 377-93). It is now common for STEM degrees to incorporate undergraduate research opportunities into the course (Webber, Laird and BrckaLorenz, 2013: 242); and while this is perhaps still a little less usual in the arts and humanities, the explosion of published studies examining 'undergraduate research' is the best evidence that the academic community has been reinvented by a wealth of initiatives, of which this journal is just one.

Another such initiative, close to Reinvention and also run as part of the Monash-Warwick alliance, is ICUR, the International Conference of Undergraduate Research, which continues to grow, last October involving ten universities over five continents ( The field of international collaboration, I would suggest, is the next area in which undergraduate research can reinvent itself. In my role as editor, it is apparent that the majority of articles that our journal receives and publishes, the majority of the research institutions that encourage their undergraduates to conduct research, and the majority of articles that are written about undergraduate research, come from established Western academic communities in the United States, Europe and Australia (see, for instance, Ziegler, 2015; also, the origins of all the articles in Mentoring & Tutoring, volume 23, issue 5). This is not to say that universities elsewhere do not benefit from including undergraduate research in their courses (e.g. Zayed University in the UAE, Khelifa, 2008: 53-54; Tsinghua University in China, Yang and Welch, 2012: 651). Some of the most interesting approaches to undergraduate research I have seen have come from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, for instance, which is also involved in ICUR ( A journal such as Reinvention, with its now well-established international reach, has the potential to solicit articles from this global base, helping to reinvent the undergraduate experience for students worldwide.

In this issue, our authors ask us to reinvent our ideas on a range of topics. Sam McAucliffe's article 'David Brown: An Undocumented Seminal Figure Within the Australian Improvised Music Community' moves this journal's parameters for research articles into new territory, expanding and reinventing them to include digital uploads of the music tracks he discusses. Taking advantage of our online publication format, he invites the reader to listen to and focus on the compositions of his subject, David Brown, via an academic discussion of Brown's work in the context of the Australian music scene.

Kieran Campbell-Johnston reassesses the provision of non-state social support in London at the turn of the twentieth century in his article 'The Definition of "Good Character": Unmarried Mothers, Class and the London Foundling Hospital, 1898-1904'. In a study of documents from the archive, he examines the admittance policy of the iconic Foundling Hospital, highlighting the importance of both class and gender.

Gemma Egan presents a novel take on the familiar story of Red Riding Hood, framing the wolf as a 'monstrous woman' in her article, '"All the Better to Eat You With!": Charles Perrault's Monstrous Wolf in Le Petit Chaperon Rouge', which is accompanied by her own translation of Perrault's original story. Considering text and engravings, she explores how the feminine veneer adopted by the wolf is made monstrous by the insatiable appetites of a beast.

Christina Maria Nelson provides a comprehensive review of current research concerning the early stages of leukaemia in bodily cells in her article 'The Role of Cell Polarity in Leukaemogenesis'. In collecting studies and suggesting new directions for the field to take, this work should be of value to medical students and researchers alike.

Finally, following Kathryn Smith's article of 2014, which dealt with the 'right to be forgotten' (Smith, 2014), Reinvention revisits the pertinent contemporary topic of social media once again, beginning with Josie Anne Reade's 'The Female Body on Instagram: Is Fit the New It?'. Breaking fresh ground with her analysis of this new media, Reade suggests that images shared on the platform simultaneously replicate and develop contemporary ideals of the female body. The book reviewed in this issue by Marco Del Vecchio and Casimir MacGregor, Twitter: A Digital Socioscope (Mejova, Weber and Macy (eds), 2015), is the perfect companion piece to Reade's work. It deals with the opportunities and challenges, both methodological and ethical, for researchers wanting to investigate and use online data. Thus we see theory and practice in this emerging field developing side by side.

I end this editorial by returning to our journal team. Publication of this issue marks the departure of two assistant editors here at Warwick, Ben McClatchie and Dave Bernard, who are graduating with degrees in History and Politics, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics respectively. I shall be very sorry to see them go: apart from their rigorous intellectual contribution to the editorial team, I have valued especially their ability to interact with and relate to authors and academic professionals on the journal's behalf with intuition, reliability, and balance. I wish them all the best in their future careers, and hope that they will follow the progress of this journal, to which they have made an indispensable contribution, as it continues to reinvent itself.


[1] For concise summaries of the other numerous benefits of undergraduate research for participants, and reviews of the research that has been conducted, see Webber, Laird and BrckaLorenz, 2013: 227-49; Ziegler, 2015.


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Vandermaas-Peeler, M., P. C. Miller and T. Peeples (2015), '"Mentoring is Sharing the Excitement of Discovery": Faculty Perceptions of Undergraduate Research Mentoring', in Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 23 (5), 377-93

Webber, K. L., T. F. Nelson Laird and A. M. BrckaLorenz (2013), 'Student and Faculty Member Engagement in Undergraduate Research', in Research in Higher Education, 54 (2), 227-49

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To cite this paper please use the following details: Grimwade, J. (2016), 'Reinvention: Thoughts On a Name', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 9, Issue 1, 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.