Colleges, by nature, are always changing. Students come and go, and often their on-campus initiatives fade after graduation. That’s why it’s a notable milestone when a campus student journal can celebrate 10 years of continuous publishing history, which the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (DUJS) is doing this spring.
Established in 1998, DUJS publishes a mix of peer-reviewed student research papers and feature stories written by DUJS staff. The students have a rigorous and competitive editorial policy. Research submissions need a faculty recommendation, and only 30 to 40 percent are accepted.
“The students who write articles or submit research for publication in DUJS do not have advanced degrees and decades of laboratory experience. What they do have, however, is a genuine intellectual interest in the sciences and a strong academic grounding in their field of interest,” says William Schpero ’10, the current president of DUJS.
Articles in DUJS cover a wide variety of scientific disciplines and themes, from the current state of artificial intelligence research to the decline of biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest to the use of lasers in surgery. “I think undergrads use it to get an idea of what might be possible for them if they do research here,” says Ursula Gibson, associate professor of engineering at Thayer School.
Gibson has been an advisor to the group from the beginning, and she’s one of many advisors from different disciplines. “I’m impressed that it is student inspired, student run, and the students have kept it rolling and continued the high level of content,” she says.
Working on the journal addresses many students’ extra-curricular interests. “I’m really interested in science communication, and in making scientific news accessible to everyone,” says biology major Laura Sternick ’08, and DUJS editor-in-chief emeritus. “I also enjoy collaborating with the other students. It takes a lot of work to put each issue together, and we rely on each other to complete all the writing, editing, and layout to meet our deadlines.”
More than 220 students have published 240 articles in DUJS. This represents 22 printed issues over the last 10 years. Its online presence has been enhanced in recent months, and DUJS often hosts visiting speakers on campus, such as writers from The New York Times and from The New England Journal of Medicine. The journal was even mentioned prominently in a May 2001 story in Nature about student science journals.
“I find DUJS to be a medium of personal growth for me,” says Frank Glaser ’08, an art history major and president emeritus of DUJS. “I am proud that a decade’s worth of Dartmouth students have been impacted positively by the journal’s strong presence in their midst. Scientists here and elsewhere have been genuinely interested in the developments propagated by the journal, as evidenced by the worldwide subscriptions.”
Adds current DUJS President Schpero, “The credibility of the journal is enhanced by a devotion to ethical decision-making and a focus on getting the facts right the first time around. The DUJS serves to enhance scientific dialogue and inform students about each other’s work, which in turn allows for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.”
To fellow students eager to try their hand at science writing or interested in launching a journal, Editor Emeritus Sternick offers this advice: “Just think about your audience and try to find the best combination of clarity, logic, brevity, and supporting evidence.”
By SUSAN KNAPP
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Last Updated: 12/17/08