Students Receive Unique Learning Experience by Creating Online Journal

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Ada Morales reviewing an article that was submitted for the journal during the final day of class. Photo By Rob Williams.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Students in senior lecturer Dr. Adrienne Brundage gave the challenge to her students in the Entomology 481 Writing Seminar class to come up with a way to combine science writing and editing an online journal.

The challenge was taken as the students in the class worked on a project for an online journal that will contain submissions from student writers in the Department with the students in her class taking the role of editors of the submitted articles.

The journal called “Instars: A Journal of Undergraduate Research,” is an open access, electronic journal that will be published on the TAMU Library’s online Open Access Journal website later in December. Brundage said that she called for the students in ENTO 423, ENTO 208 and FIVS 435 to volunteer to submit their papers to the new journal.

Students in the class served as peer editors where they were placed in small groups of two to three and were tasked with reviewing each submission for proper content, format and grammar by using a standardized rubric for submitting papers professionally.

Each group then submits a written article analysis on the article, critiquing on its grammar, style and content, and then is passed onto three different groups with a final publication decision after the third review. She said that at the end of the semester, the students vote on 15 to 20 papers to be submitted to the journal as their final project.

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Dr. Adrienne Brundage working with a student. Photo by Rob Williams.

Brundage said the idea came to her after looking for a way to encourage her students to take pride in their work and provide something that they can be motivated in producing a quality piece for the public. “I wanted to give the students in this class a reason to want to learn how to write better, while giving them the opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes of other writers,” she said. “I also wanted to give them a little taste of what they would be doing as a peer reviewer or editor after they graduated.”

She also said that the publication of this journal is an excellent tool for encouraging them to keep writing quality work and gives them experience on publishing scientific articles in the real world.

“I decided to use the publication of the journal as a final project because it gave the students something to work towards. The idea was to set up a situation where each week the students were learning something that would have near-immediate rewards,” she said.

“I thought that the students needed to take a risk with this, as well. The idea that people all over the country will have access to this journal once it is published is enough to give the students an extra push towards doing their best work,” she said.

Entomology senior Ada Morales said her favorite part of the course was critiquing and reviewing articles and that the course was fun but a lot of hard work.

“It took a lot of hard work but it was worth it,” she said. “It has taught me well in determining between what is good and bad scientific writing.”

Brundage was impressed at the results and is already excited about publishing the inaugural edition.

“I think this project went pretty well,” Brundage said. “This allowed us to change things during the semester when they needed to be changed, and gave the students an element of control over the process.”

The 2014 issue of the journal will be published on December 20 at the following address: https://journals.tdl.org/instars/index.php/instars.

Brundage said that all Entomology students are welcome to submit their presentations to her for the 2015 edition and can do so by going to the journal website or by e-mail at Adrienne.Brundage@ag.tamu.edu.

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