Neal Lacey received a fellowship to do research in Columbia, Missouri.
He packed his bags and flew to Dr. Justin Walensky’s chemistry lab at the University of Missouri. It was while at Mizzou, that Lacey befriended his Residential Advisor (RA), Anurag Chandram. They talked about everything from chemistry to their love of constitutional democracy–and even to Chandram’s wish to create an undergraduate research journal regarding research that Chandram had done while at Mizzou.
“I wondered why NCF did not have its own undergraduate journal,” Lacey wrote in an email interview. “Especially considering the wealth of students doing research through tutorials, ISP period, thesis process and the frequency at which NCF students participate in summer research programs.”
After completing his fellowship that summer, Lacey would graduate in 2015. Today, a tutorial is sponsored by Natural Sciences Librarian, Alyson Gamble, and consists of six students who meet twice a week and oversee the production of Aeolus, New College’s interdisciplinary undergraduate research journal.
Gamble, a week before starting her job at the New College of Florida, was approached by Professor Matt Lepinski in the college’s parking lot about three students who were interested in creating a tutorial centered on producing an undergraduate research journal: Lacey, along with fellow students Caitlyn Ralph and Mai Tanaka.
Over a year later, and both Lacey and Tanaka have graduated while Ralph is currently studying abroad through the National Student Exchange (NSE). Aeolus exists as a working group, with no distribution of hierarchy.
“When the journal first started, roles were very concretely established and there was a vertical managerial structure, where different branches of the organization reported to different heads of the journal,” Gamble wrote in an email interview. “This worked well for the original set-up, but as the journal evolved, the students found that a horizontal approach worked better for managing the journal in a dynamic environment. The students seem to naturally fall into the roles that interest them.”
Students break off into roles dealing with peer review, formatting a style guideline, social media and layout.
“When we first receive an article, we do a general overview and see if it meets our guidelines,” Aeolus member, Riley Lewis, said. “If we decide that it does fit the scope of our journal, then we look through and make minor grammatical corrections to make it fit our style guide. We don’t change the voice or any content of the article. […] Then we are able to send it off to peer-review and that is when experts in the field are able to review [the article] for content and the data being presented.”
Aeolus member, Hope Sparks, explained that there is a database of alums who will be contacted when a submitted article dealing with their specific field is submitted to Aeolus and in need of revision.
Every Aeolus member interviewed discussed the value of exposure to the publication process.
“I think it gives students the opportunity to see what it’s like to publish work,” Lewis said. “And just understand and be able to take feedback. It also exposes students to an aspect of academia that they wouldn’t be able to receive in their classes.”
This was a sentiment shared by Aeolus members Danielle Aca and Bethany Wilson, who both voiced interest in working in publishing as a career.
“I’m very interested in publishing and how publishing works, and grassroots publications,” Aca, who works with marketing the publication to the community, said. “I think it validates [the research] that students do. Research does matter. And I think it motivates students to do more research.”
Wilson expressed an understanding of the publication process in its entirety.
“I knew nothing about the review process,” Wilson said. “I also learned how to copy-edit, I learned that you can get a lot done in a small amount of time.”
“When we first started out, we really didn’t know how we were going to publish this,” Lewis said. “Were we going to make it in print? Were we going to do it online? Nowadays, journals aren’t really published in paper. Everything is online.”
The Aeolus team is accepting submissions until their April 3rd deadline, in preparation for their in-print publication: in a 4 page insert in Nimbus. The insert will won’t be an in-print issue but instead a preview of articles that will be published online on the Aeolus website. Although there is discussion for potentially creating a full in-print edition in the future.
When asked about his dreams for the future of Aeolus, Lacey points to both the Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who both contain student-led and faculty-sponsored interdisciplinary undergraduate research journals that are published biannually.
“Overall, I hope students disseminate valuable information and connect organically with other prospies, their peers, faculty and alumnae/i,” Lacey writes. “I hope students gain team-based project experience and leadership skills.”
Students interested in publishing their research can go onto Aeolus.com to publish their work while updates on the publication are available through the publication’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Alums can contact Aeolus at email@example.com to voice interest in becoming a content editor, or by submitting their own research done at the undergraduate research level.
“I’m surprised that [Aeolus] hasn’t already been a thing,” Sparks said. “We have so many exciting research projects and ISPs and research experiences, this is just a place for us to put it all. The students already do the work, we just didn’t have the outlet.”
This article was written by Catalyst Managing Editor and Aeolus editorial board member, Giulia Heyward. This article was originally published on the New College Communications & Marketing website.