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Journals published by undergraduates grow

Published February 9, 2004; Category: STUDENTS

Two journals attract attention on campus and off

The winter 2004 issue of the Dartmouth College Undergraduate Journal of Law


The fall 2003 issue of the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science

Two Dartmouth publications, both less than five years old, are proving that students can hatch an idea, create a pilot issue, increase the size and popularity of their publications, and ultimately run academic journals that attract the admiration of their peers.

The Dartmouth College Undergraduate Journal of Law (DCUJL) was founded last year and is expanding in both submissions and staff members. The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (DUJS), founded in 1999, is geared toward science buffs and a lay audience at once, a formula that has drawn the interest of would-be student publishers at other schools.

The law journal was founded in Winter 2003, by two then-interns of the Daniel Webster Legal Society at the Rockefeller Center, Meg Thering '05 and Josh Marcuse '04. They started with about five people, putting together an issue in Spring 2003 with funding from the Rockefeller Center. Marcuse said that the first issue was challenging because he had never worked on a publication before.

"The whole journal was made on my laptop, working 8 hours a day for a week," he said. The result was an issue popular enough that readers requested a second run.

Since its first issue, the law journal's staff has increased to nearly 40 students, and the number of submissions has tripled.

"It's not bad for an organization that started from scratch," said Marcuse, who is now the journal's editor in chief. With the organization divided into teams, Marcuse and Thering can rely on people with journal or layout experience for the details of getting published.

"We have a large staff, a new design and a new publisher, and the journal's more attractive," Marcuse said.

Despite changes in the style, the staff is determined to keep DCUJL interdisciplinary, with articles from students majoring in or studying a variety of fields. "We got submissions from a lot of departments - environmental studies, economics, philosophy . . . not just government," Thering said. The next issue, to be published during Winter term, includes articles that examine the new constitution of Afghanistan, articles that study the philosophy and theory of law, and articles that discuss the laws of water pollution.

The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science was created in 1999 by Amar Dhand '01 to reach as broad an audience as possible. While half of the articles are written by undergraduate staff writers majoring in physics, biology and computer science, among other departments, the journal covers a broader scope by including subjects with a less obvious relationship to science.

"We have a forthcoming article explaining the technology of music," said James Klaas '04, the editor in chief of DUJS. "In the past, we've also had an article about the science of cooking - how bread would rise, why meat changes color . . . stuff you never think about."

DUJS has also recently gone full color in an effort to present comprehensible and entertaining science. Klaas said that the articles demand as much passion and writing skills as scientific research.

"It's written almost like a narrative," Klaas said. "Almost all of the staff take all these science classes and don't get a chance to write, or to take English classes. With the journal, we're able to take what we love and combine it with what we've been missing. This is our outlet."

Klaas estimated that approximately 30 staff members dedicate 800 person-hours total for each published issue.

Other colleges recognize the fact that DUJS is not only one of the few undergraduate journals of science, but was the first of its kind in 1999. Several universities subscribe to the journal, and a few schools, including Harvard and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., are asking DUJS to advise them on beginning their own undergraduate science journals, Klaas said.

"It's the highest form of flattery," Klaas said. "We're trailblazers, and have become a model for all undergraduate journals of science."

By SHIORI OKAZAKI '04

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Last Updated: 12/17/08