CURA Spotlight on Undergraduate Publishing

On April 23, 2020, CIRS hosted an online CURA workshop titled, “CURA Spotlight on Undergraduate Publishing,” featuring presentations by Suzi Mirgani, Assistant Director for CIRS Publications, Jackie Starbird, CIRS Publications and Projects Assistant, and Chaïmaa Benkermi, CIRS Publications Fellow. The workshop was centered around supporting undergraduate research and publishing, with a focus on the path towards academic publishing, its benefits, as well as its difficulties. Overall, the workshop aimed at offering interested students useful resources and information to promote more undergraduate research and publication.

Suzi Mirgani led the workshop by sharing her professional experience and advice on research and publishing. Additionally, the workshop actively engaged participants to share their ideas, questions, and concerns. She recommended various venues in which to publish, including peer-reviewed academic journals, and advised against engaging with vanity presses or those that demand a fee to publish. She encouraged students to practice their academic writing skills by regularly writing and submitting book reviews to academic journals, which are relatively short in length and can be smartly integrated into a student’s regular university reading and writing workload. Mirgani shared her experience, both as an author and as an editor, regarding the peer-review process, which she acknowledged to be an exhausting, but worthy process that becomes easier with practice. Over time, students learn scholarly writing requirements and the best ways to execute them. Mirgani emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to reviewer criticism as well as patience regarding the often-lengthy process. She also stressed the importance of understanding the power relation between author and publisher when entering the publication field. Moreover, Mirgani engaged students by questioning their research interests and current projects and received questions on how to transform a class paper to a ready-to-be-published submission and how to avoid biased writing.

Jackie Starbird expanded the discussion and included examples of publishing sites, offering platforms such as the CURA Paper Series to gain valuable experience in the review and publishing processes. She also gave examples of undergraduate research journals and explained the selection criteria for submissions and requirements for publishing such as word count, formatting, and recommendation letters. Starbird concluded with helpful tips on writing and publishing, including using resources offered by CIRS's CURA program and GU-Q, such as seeking out professors for advice and mentorship and setting goals like presenting a paper at a conference.

Chaïmaa Benkermi, Annual Undergraduate Research Conference (AURC) President, followed with an introduction of  AURC as a way to voice, present, and publish original research for undergraduate students. This year’s conference theme was “The Road to Peace: Challenges and Opportunities for Peacebuilding.” She explained the process of application and review but also encouraged students to be part of the AURC team.

The workshop concluded with helpful tips on writing and publishing including using resources offered by CIRS and GU-Q, such as seeking out professors for advice and mentorship and setting goals like presenting a paper at a conference. Overall, this workshop aimed at offering interested students useful resources and information to promote more undergraduate research and publication.

Article by Salma Hassabou, CURA Administration Fellow