Taking a research idea from its initial question all the way to academic publication can be a daunting task for any university student.
First comes the process of distilling the research question to its essential inquiry. Then there’s the lengthy process of constructing the methodology to answer the question, thoroughly researching the question, examining results from all angles and reaching a conclusion. Then comes the writing process, with its rounds of edits and peer review and eventual publication.
For University of Mississippi undergraduates, a less intimidating introduction to the undertaking is the University of Mississippi Undergraduate Research Journal. The journal – written by Ole Miss undergraduates and edited by their peers – provides access for students to experience the research process firsthand, from the development of an idea to publication.
The spring 2019 third volume of the journal was released recently.
“The University of Mississippi Undergraduate Research Journal serves to showcase the academic accomplishments of students in all disciplines at the university,” said Chad Gutierrez, who served as editor-in-chief.
Covering six articles, there’s a lot to unpack with the newest volume of the double-blind, peer-reviewed journal that represents UM undergraduate research in social science, humanities, natural science and engineering.
The journal features topics from the physical, socioeconomic and political changes within Azraq, Jordan, linked to its decreasing water resources to how crude oil spills are affected by moisture content levels and packing density of soil.
“A special thank you is owed to all of the students who submitted to this year’s publication,” said Gutierrez, a rising senior chemical engineering major from Gulfport.
The journal was created in 2015 by Whitney Greer, a 2016 UM graduate, to provide an outlet for undergraduate researchers to publish their work. The journal is a registered student organization and continues to highlight Ole Miss undergraduate researchers.
“Once again, through the efforts of students on the editorial staff and contributing authors, the University of Mississippi Undergraduate Research Journal has become a reality,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “I’d like to personally thank Chad for his energy, vision and leadership. I’d also like to thank all the authors and their advisers for their submissions for publication.
“Providing an undergraduate research experience for our students is so important to their development and helps them clarify the next steps in their lives. The joy of defining a research question, designing a procedure to answer that question and being the first human to gain that knowledge is hard to describe and must be experienced. The journal provides an opportunity for our students to tell that story.”
The journal represents one of several ways Ole Miss is supporting undergraduate research, including funding a second year of the UM Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, which was started last year, and encouraging undergraduate student participation in the universitywide Research Day, which was held April 26.
The journal’s editorial board included Gutierrez along with Thomas Lee, a political science and Arabic major from Gulfport; Genevieve Verville, a chemistry major from Montgomery, Alabama; Robert Wasson, a chemical engineering major from Madison; and Nicholas Weaver, a public policy leadership and integrated marketing communications major from St. Louis.
“The purpose of the journal is to highlight student accomplishments in the undergraduate research field,” said Wasson, who served editor of the journal’s engineering section. “By providing a means of publication to students, we will hopefully increase interest in undergraduate research at the university.”
Three students were awarded cash prizes from the university’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for the best articles: first place, Shaylin Williams, an engineering major from Natchez; second place, Wesley Gerard, an international studies and Arabic major from Madison; and third place, Julia Grant, a public policy leadership and economics major from Gulfport.
Funding for the journal came from the ORSP and the Associated Student Body. University Libraries assisted with creating a website for the publication and adding it to eGrove, the university’s new institutional repository.
By Shea Stewart