The iSchool’s Research Journal, Spotlighted by Editor-in-Chief Tamarack Hockin

iStudent Blog

Published: September 22, 2016

If you’re looking for a place to share your research papers, the San José State University’s School of Information has its very own peer-reviewed Student Research Journal, authored, edited and published by your classmates.

The iSchool’s Student Research Journal holds the honor of being the only SJSU scholarly journal entirely produced by iSchool students. School of Information professor and faculty advisor for the journal Dr. Anthony Bernier is joined here with SRJ editor-in-chief Tamarack Hockin to tell us about the history of the journal, how to submit an article for publication, how the student editorial team works and to share the wide range of quality work done by iSchool students, as well as students from other universities.

The Beginnings of a Scholarly Research Publication
The Student Research Journal emerged in 2010 from the iSchool’s strategic and on-going commitment to constant improvement. We wanted to build our reputation and national ranking through deepening our research profile across the School’s curricular and extra-curricular offerings. The SRJ was a manifestation of that desire, along with establishing a Ph.D. experience (in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology in Australia), our speaker series and Library 2.0 conferences, and CIRI (Center for Information Research Initiatives), among other efforts.

The SRJ’s unique role in this regard is to both help our graduate students become familiar with scholarly publishing – specifically with double-blind peer review, offer our students the opportunity to serve as leaders and editors in that process, and to encourage students to become published authors while still in school. As has been true since 2010 the SRJ remains the only entirely student-governed scholarly journal on campus at SJSU.

Editorial Experience is a Valuable Addition to a Future Career
The journal has served as a launching pad for a number of successful iSchool alumni. Brighid Gonzales, a 2014 alumna and past Content Editor for SRJ, recently received a national award for her research on linked data. As well, three of the five recipients of the 2016 Director’s Awards were associated with the journal as editors or published authors. We’re collating an archive of past editors and many of the names in that listing are doing very well according to their LinkedIn profiles. There’s certainly a positive correlation between editing for SRJ and future career successes.

SRJ’s editors are able to take the experience they gain with the journal and map their acquired skills to a diversity of career paths. Working as part of a team to review, edit, and publish the journal builds teamwork and leadership skills, and demonstrates the ability to manage tasks unsupervised. The journal reinforces many of the skills we are gaining as students at the iSchool, but in a more professional arena where editors are responsible for looking at big picture issues in the profession. Our editors do everything from nitty-gritty APA citations to evaluating the conceptualization and originality of a work.

As information professionals we are required to be very flexible, and SRJ editors are required to review and edit works even when the subject falls outside their areas of expertise. Editing for content requires our editors to become extremely strategic readers who can evaluate a work based on the constructs of scholarly communication. That familiarity with scholarly communication and the research of our field are especially valuable skills for anyone considering a career in academic reference or public service.

Getting Your Research Published is an Amazing Accomplishment
Publishing in SRJ can put you head and shoulders  above other applicants as you launch your career after graduation. Publishing shows that you are deeply committed to keeping current within the profession, and to ongoing professional development. Everyone in graduate school writes papers and does at least a basic literature review, but very few go the extra miles to publish their work. As a double-blind peer reviewed journal—which is the gold standard for scholarly publishing, SRJ is a highly reputable journal in which to publish.

While the benefits of publication that hold true for SRJ could hold true for other peer reviewed journals, SRJ offers a depth of feedback and engagement that authors simply will not get at other journals. Our editors spend hours with each manuscript, and work very hard to understand the author’s thesis and core research problem. The constructive feedback that authors get from SRJ editors is invaluable.

More immediately, as a current MLIS or MARA student, feedback from the editing process can really assist in your development as a writer and benefit your course writing here at the iSchool. Sometimes we are lucky enough to get feedback from a colleague or another student, but often we have to improve our writing ourselves. Experiencing the iterative review and revision process of publication teaches us a lot about our own writing and how it measures up to scholarly standards. Our editorial team is trained and supported to tease out issues, and point authors in a clearer direction.

A Fascinating Publication Everyone Should Read
The emphasis here has so far been on the authors and editors, but I’d like to also acknowledge our readership. The ultimate reason for any publication is to contribute to the scholarly conversation, and we need readers to move our ideas further. As a refereed journal, articles published in SRJ can be cited in any review of the literature, and we hope that students here at the iSchool will help to foster conversation in our own back yard by reading and responding to the journal.

As an open access journal, SRJ has a broad reach and our readership really spans the globe (though the largest percentage of readership is here in the U.S.). Visitors to the journal’s homepage will see a dynamic readership map showing the most recent downloads in real time. SRJ has hundreds of downloads every week, and thousands every year. The journal published its 11th issue this past June, and that issue alone has already had more than 700 downloads. Overall, the past 90 days have shown more than 5,000 downloads of our 11 issue archive. I’m constantly impressed.

Our most popular article of all time is Julee Tanner’s Digital vs Print: Reading Comprehension and the Future of the Book, which has received more than 14,500 downloads since its publication in December, 2014. Tanner spoke about this is a 2015 iSchool feature on the journal, and her comments highlight the importance of vibrant readership. The success of Tanner’s article is remarkable by any LIS journal’s metrics, but regardless of size, having a readership is a very rewarding experience for our authors.

I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t read the journal to visit our website and browse the archives—readers are going to find many articles relevant to their studies here at the iSchool. For anyone looking to get published, the journal has just begun accepting academic book reviews in addition to manuscripts, and we have a great webinar on writing and publishing book reviews. And for anyone looking to become more involved and gain experience on the Editorial Team, SRJ will be looking to fill a couple of upcoming editor vacancies in January 2017. 

For related publishing opportunities, check out these posts:
Student Chapters Like the iSchool’s ALASC– A Great Way to Connect (and get published in their newsletter, The Descriptor)

Teamwork and a Passion for Archiving Make the SAASC a Success at the iSchool

The iSchool’s Best Resources for Networking and Planning Your Career

images courtesy of Stuart Miles and cooldesigns


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