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Editorial: The Undergraduate Reinvention of the Publishing Industry

Jure Jeric, University of Warwick

 

Academic research too often remains hidden from the general or even academic public, without a real impact, primarily because many do not have access to it. This does not apply just to undergraduate papers and dissertations but to all scholars' works published in subscription journals. The heated scholarly debate on open access (OA) and subscription journals has recently come into public focus after the Harvard University Faculty Advisory Council published a surprising memorandum, in which they claim not to be able to finance high-priced journal subscriptions. According to the Council, the publishers had made 'the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive' (Harvard Council, 2012); therefore their suggestion is to publish in journals which promote OA policies.

Although the trend of publishing in OA journals started more than 20 years ago (Björk and Solomon, 2012), it has more recently become a viable option. It is important that scholars realise the full potential of OA journals and the benefits of having a much wider audience. In a recent survey of more than 53,000 respondents from 163 countries, 89% of respondents claimed to consider 'open access publishing beneficial for their research field' (Dallmeier-Tiessen et al., 2011). This view has also been reflected in a similar number of citations and an overall scientific (quantifiable) impact of the OA journals in comparison to subscription ones. However, it is important to acknowledge that scholars do not all (yet) treat the dichotomy in the same way, and it is discipline specific (Björk and Solomon, 2012). In line with this, it is not surprisingly that fewer than 10% of published academic papers are available completely free of charge (Dallmeier-Tiessen et al., 2011).

This fact, however, highlights an interesting trend of undergraduate research journals being at the forefront of the reinvention of the publishing industry. It would be pretentious to claim that undergraduate journals would have the same readership if they were not free; however, considering alternative sources of funding should become imperative. This is especially relevant for research projects that are publicly funded – it would be in the best public interest if their dissemination were not restricted (Martínez-Manez and Wirth, 2012). At this point I feel it is necessary to point out that the aim of this editorial is certainly not to argue against the publishing industry, but rather to invite scholars to consider all the options available when they are deciding where to publish their work. In this context, Prof. Timothy Gower's efforts have to be applauded, if not admired, as he has started a salient revolution against one of the largest publishing companies, Elsevier. Just one post on his blog (Gower, 2012) has motivated around 13,000 academics to voice their dissatisfaction with 'exorbitantly high prices for subscriptions to individual journals', and Elsevier's modus operandi of 'exploiting the fact that some of their journals are essential' (The Cost of Knowledge, 2012).

Reinvention continues to strive to support young scholars in understanding and appreciating OA policies. In the near future, when they deserve opportunities to create publishing policies, I truly believe that the experience of having their papers read by such large audiences will motivate them to continue with similar practices. Apart from the existing academic and educational purposes of undergraduate research journals (Freer, 2010; Falkenburg, 2011), this is a new commitment we find equally important. The value of everyone's work can be measured by how many people it has inspired to further action.

I am delighted to inform our readers of the journal's most recent developments, particularly our change of name to Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research. This reflects our new multinationalism: our existing editorial base at Warwick has been joined by a new one at Monash University, Australia, as part of the Strategic Partnership between the two universities. We are delighted that two new assistant editors in Australia, Georgia O'Connor and Justine Vincin, will form an integral part of our cross-disciplinary, multi-national team. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our Australian academic advisor Dr Ernest Koh, two more assistant editors at Warwick, Megan Roberts and James Hamp, a committed team of journal ambassadors and our new marketing team. We are still recruiting new Ambassadors to the journal team, who must be either students or staff members at Monash or Warwick. If you would like to join the team please see our available roles. Our special thanks go to our former editor Naomi Falkenburg and assistant editor Alexander Marsden, who have moved on with their professional development, and we wish them the best of luck.

Alongside the most recent developments, Reinvention will continue with the good practice of supporting numerous undergraduate conferences with a view to encouraging the dissemination of valuable academic contributions. We are proud to continue our fruitful co-operation with the British Conference of Undergraduate Research, which will be held at the University of Plymouth on 15 and 16 April 2013, and post festum there will a special issue with some of the best papers. A full archive of the proceedings of BCUR 2012, held at Warwick, is available on the IATL website. The first Australian Conference of Undergraduate Research was held at Macquarie University, Sydney, on 20 September 2012, where undergraduates from all over Australasia presented their research via spoken presentations and posters. Inspired by these events, Monash and Warwick will be co-hosting their own conference of undergraduate research in 2013, allowing students at both institutions to present their research alongside each other using videoconferencing and virtual poster sessions.

I would also like to remind readers about the Future Leaders contest, organised in co-operation with Warwick Economics Summit, the largest student-run event in Europe. The deadline for submitting economics-related papers is 15 November; the authors of the best three papers will be invited to attend the Summit. In addition, in the April issue we will publish abstracts from the conference organised by the Warwick Medical School. Both events are to be held at the University of Warwick.

We hope you will find this truly international issue inspiring. We are pleased to publish six very engaging papers which present a real contribution to their disciplines, either by tackling some of the most current challenges or by shedding new light on issues that have motivated the academic and public agendas for many years. It is interesting to recognise how the learning analogy between undergraduate journals and subscription publications can be found in 'Encouraging Female Entrepreneurship: Lessons From Colombian Women'. Jennifer Quigley-Jones (University of Warwick) offers some thought-provoking policy solutions for the UK based on experiences from the developing world. Constant scientific advancements can be achieved only through challenging the existing knowledge, and this is one of the key reasons for publishing Joseph Stockermans' (International Christian University, Tokyo) paper 'Factors Affecting Peace Levels in Afghanistan', in which the author uses an innovative data set to test a new model with some striking conclusions. A similar search for creative solutions has motivated Stephen Hornsey (Teeside University) to write 'A Review of Relay Auto-Tuning Methods for the Tuning of PID-Type Controllers'.

Another trio of papers is focused on learning about humanity from the historical events. Stephanie Woodbridge (Monash University) researches 'Shrill Noise: The Perception of Women during the Great War Anti-conscription Movement in Melbourne, Australia', while R. Charles Small (University of Warwick) dives into '"Devil's Ordinaries" or "Chapels of Ease": a Comparative Study of London's Coffeehouses from 1660-1720'. Finally, it is always a special pleasure to publish collaborative papers because it is a positive sign that lecturers incorporate research-led teaching in their curriculums. Rachel Webster, Joseph Rusinko, Mathew Hayes and Heather R. Martin (Winthrop University) adopt an interdisciplinary approach for 'Examining the Mathematical Sub-symbolic Registers Using Cryptology'. This issue also heralds the welcome return of our book review section where, in a further demonstration of our new collaboration, Linda Colley's Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850 is reviewed by Lucy Mayblin from Warwick and Erin Smith from Monash.

 


 

References

Björk, B. and D. Solomon (2012), 'Open access versus subscription journals: a comparison of scientific impact', BMC Medicine, 10(73), available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/73, accessed 15 October 2012

Freer, A. (2010), 'Editorial: The Growth of Reinvention', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3 (1), available at www.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/issues/volume3issue1/editorial, accessed 15 October 2012

Falkenburg, N. (2011), 'Editorial: Adaptability and Creativity', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 4, Issue 2, available at www.warwick.ac.uk/go/reinventionjournal/issues/volume4issue2/editorial, accessed 15 October 2012

Harvard University Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing (2012), 'Major Periodical Subscriptions Cannot Be Sustained', available at http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448, accessed 15 October 2012

Dallmeier-Tiessen, S., R. Darby, B. Goerner, J. Hyppoelae, P. Igo-Kemenes, D. Kahn, S. Lambert, A, Lengenfelder, C. Leonard, S. Mele, M. Nowicka, P. Polydoratou, D. Ross, S. Ruiz-Perez, R. Schimmer, M. Swaisland and W. van der Stelt (2011), 'Open access journals – what publishers offer, what researchers want', Information Services & Use, 31 (85–/ 91)

Gower, T. (2012), 'Elsevier - my part in its downfall', Gowers's Weblog, http://gowers.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/elsevier-my-part-in-its-downfall/, accessed 14 October 2012

Martínez-Manez, R. and T. Wirth (2012), 'Opening Up the World of Chemistry', Chemistry Open, 1 (4), available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/open.v1.1/issuetoc, accessed 15 October 2012

The Cost of Knowledge (2012), http://thecostofknowledge.com, accessed 14 October 2012

 

To cite this paper please use the following details: Jeric, J. (2012), 'Editorial: The Undergraduate Reinvention of the Publishing Industry', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 5, Issue 2, www.warwick.ac.uk/reinventionjournal/issues/volume5issue2/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.