Have you ever dreamed of being published in a respected library and information science (LIS) journal—but didn’t think you had enough writing experience? SRJ (the Student Research Journal, pronounced “surge”) is a peer-reviewed, open access iSchool publication that welcomes submissions from students from all LIS graduate schools. That means you.
“This journal is run by the students, for the students,” managing editor Janet Casey proclaims, “and we’re all about helping each other out.” Faculty advisor and associate professor Dr. Anthony Bernier is on hand to lend expertise, but the student editors review, select and edit manuscripts for publication.
Casey and the SRJ editors work with student writers to develop their skills so they can submit to professional LIS journals, editing manuscripts to get them “publication ready.” It is a thoughtful, multilayered process. “I think that might be specific to SRJ,” says Casey, “since we focus specifically on student work… making sure the authors have a chance to resubmit their articles based on the feedback that our editors and the managing editor and editor-in-chief give.”
In a process similar to providing a reference subject specialist, manuscripts are assigned to knowledgeable content editors to allow them the chance to edit articles on subjects that might interest them. “We have a variety of editors with different academic backgrounds and career paths, and they have expertise in areas that might be helpful,” Casey explains. “Then I write a review that the author will read, including areas they can improve in their writing and suggestions to improve the manuscript.” It can take two to three different revisions before the article is ready for submission, but it’s worth it—for the writers, editors and SRJ. “I take that part of my job very seriously," says Casey, "because it’s our goal as a journal to develop the authors’ and editors’ skills so that they can go out into the world and be able to write a publishable article.”
Student Julee Tanner wrote a paper on “digital vs. print” for an iSchool course and wanted to share the information she learned with a larger LIS audience. “Yet since I was new to library school and had never published my work before, the idea was a bit overwhelming,” Tanner says. “Submitting my paper for consideration by our own iSchool journal removed the intimidation factor and streamlined the process.”
SRJ editors read Tanner’s paper, made some APA style notes, fixed typos, and recommended changes to broaden the scope of the paper to really highlight its relevance to libraries. “While [the original] approach was sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the class assignment, it would have fallen short of my goal of reaching the wider audience of librarians and educators looking for guidance as they make book purchasing and long-range planning decisions,” Tanner notes. “Broadening the topic did require me to do a bit of additional research and writing on the current state of digital book publishing, but what resulted was an article relevant to library professionals with practical concerns.”
The published article has been referenced in blog posts, and LIS professionals reached out to Tanner with their thoughts on the digital-vs.-print divide. “The entire process of writing, receiving feedback, revising, seeing my work published, and discussing my research with others has been very rewarding for someone just starting out in the field of library science,” says Tanner.
Contributions for the Journal
Remember that paper on digital access that you wrote for your first-semester LIS course? Submit it as an SRJ article. Have a question about an LIS concept or process that you’d like to explore in more detail? Think SRJ. “The easiest way to come up with original ideas is to find something in class that confused you, or that you want answers to,” Casey says. “If you have questions, that means others have questions, and that’s a good opportunity to forward knowledge in our fields.”
Casey credits Libr 204, the required course on information professions, with giving her the management and leadership skills vital to a managing editor. “I never thought I could manage people or be a leader,” Casey admits. Libr 204 taught her that “management isn’t just lording your power over people, it’s working with individuals and teams to share knowledge with each other. That’s a successful team and leadership environment.”
Editing for SRJ, Casey has also changed how she approaches her own writing. “I saw the high standards there were for publications, and came to the realization that everything that you write should be able to help someone else learn something or forward the academic community in some way,” she says. It’s a matter of taking your original questions or ideas and fleshing them out through an article. With publication, you allow others to respond and, in turn, think about their own original ideas. “The best papers,” Casey believes, “Come from authors who have a real passion for whatever their article is about.”
SRJ publishes two issues per year, accepting submissions on a rolling basis. If you're a student, think about what you have to say, and then get involved. SRJ is there to support you every step of the way to get your story published.