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Student research published in new journal

Tess Civantos | Monday, February 23, 2009

The College of Arts and Letters has a Journal of Undergraduate Research, but students in the College of Science had no place to publish their research – until now.

College of Science students and faculty are planning Scientia, Notre Dame’s first-ever journal for undergraduate research devoted exclusively to science, for release this semester.

“There are so many students in the College of Science doing all these awesome research projects, and there’s no outlet for them,” said sophomore Ryan Renacci, the submissions editor for Scientia. “We want these students to be able to let other students see what they’ve done.”

A journal for undergraduate science research is a natural fit for Notre Dame’s expanding science and research programs. Edwin Siu, a graduate student in biological sciences and advisor to Scientia, was surprised that such a publication did not already exist.

“When I started school here, I looked to see if there was a publication in the College of Science for student research,” Siu said. “With Notre Dame’s focus on undergraduate education, it seemed strange that there wasn’t one.”

A key feature of Scientia, Latin for “knowledge,” is that it will be completely student-run. Another is that it will be an online publication, with only one print copy issued yearly.

“The advantage of online publication is that it reduces our burden on the planet, it allows for a rolling applications process, and it makes the journal more easily accessible,” said professor Dominic Chaloner, Scientia’s faculty advisor.

Editors oversee each of Scientia’s five departments: biology, chemistry, pre-professional, physics and math. Each department also includes volunteer undergraduates who will help prepare submitted articles for publication as peer reviewers.

“We wanted Scientia to represent every major in the College of Science,” Renacci said.

Scientia will incorporate news articles about Notre Dame science along with student-written research pieces.

“Most Notre Dame students know another student who’s working in a lab, but you don’t know what it is they’re actually doing,” Siu said. “Scientia will include a news section so students at Notre Dame can know what their peers are researching and see that they’re actively involved in research that’s significant.”

Scientia will feature a rolling application process and online submission of articles, making it easy to submit research. Its editors are eager to get to work on the first articles.

“We’re looking for people to submit articles, and we could always use more editors,” Renacci said. “When we receive articles, a reviewer will work with the writer, sending the article back and forth to make sure it’s publication-worthy. We’re focusing on research that the student has done over a summer or over a semester.”

College of Science students can look forward to the exposure their work will get through Scientia. The journal will be an outlet for the research that most students already do.

“Most science majors do some sort of research,” Siu said. “It seems a bit of a shame to put in all those hours and not have something to show for it, and this gives closure to their research.”