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Bioscience Horizons – the national undergraduate research journal. Dr Celia Knight Faculty of Biological Sciences. University of Leeds Learning and Teaching Conference January 2009. Talk outline. Journal aims How it started How it runs Evaluation Future prospects

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Bioscience horizons the national undergraduate research journal

Bioscience Horizons – the national undergraduate research journal

Dr Celia Knight

Faculty of Biological Sciences

University of Leeds Learning and Teaching Conference January 2009

Talk outline
Talk outline journal

  • Journal aims

  • How it started

  • How it runs

  • Evaluation

  • Future prospects

  • The journal as a learning tool

Journal aims
Journal aims journal

  • To showcase the skills potential of undergraduates and especially to future employers

  • To make available the high quality research undertaken by undergraduates

  • To act as a motivational and learning tool for future undergraduates

  • To promote links between research and teaching and to acknowledge the achievements of high-achieving students, their supervisors and Universities

How did it start
How did it start? journal

  • Oxford University Press saw

    Biolog-e on-line and approached me

    in 2006. They also contacted Jac

    Potter about Origin.

  • OUP saw potential for a national

    journal in promoting their

    undergraduate skills publications.

  • I saw potential in creating a new

    type of journal with the backing of a

    professional publishers that worked for

    the UK Bioscience academic community

Creating the journal 2006
Creating the journal - 2006 journal

  • Academic consortium established

    Celia Knight University of Leeds

    Martin Luck University of Nottingham

    Julian Park University of Reading

    Alison Fletcher University of Chester

    Jac Potter Trinity College Dublin

    Jonathan Crowe Oxford University Press

    Alan Jenkins Consultant

  • Universities surveyed for support

    • OUP and HEA mailing lists contacted

    • 63 replies from 50 institutions

84% in favour of the establishment of a national undergraduate research journal

Creating the journal
Creating the journal journal

  • Journal and process created, including legal agreements with OUP

  • Journal publicised and departments invited (May) to nominate 1 or 2 max students (July)

  • All nominations accepted

  • Students submitted papers rewritten to standard journal format (end Sept)

  • Papers sent for expert review

  • Editorial Board meets (Dec)

  • First revised submissions to OUP (Jan)

  • Issue 1 published (March)

  • Issue 2 published (May)

University and student take up
University and student take-up journal

  • University engagement has been good, involving ca. 50:50 pre-1992 and post-1992 Universities at each stage.

  • Note some student nominations are accepted but fail to submit and importantly, some papers are not accepted after review. Volume 2 review process ongoing.

What do people think
What do people think? journal

  • The journal is being accessed

  • The journal was awarded a highly commended certificate for publishing innovation by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers

What do people think1
What do people think? journal

Academic comment

"BioScience Horizons is a much better introduction to the real world of authorship than

tutorial exercises. Furthermore, people need to be made aware that real research can be

done, and is done, in final-year projects. Authorship is recognition, a reward due to those

to whom it really belongs. This scheme sends nothing but positive signals in all


John Allen, Professor of Biochemistry, Queen Mary, University of London

Student comment

"I knew I wanted to work in research and this was

not only great practice from that point of view, but

it was also a stand-out feature on my CV when I

began applying for PhDs”

Samantha Fahy, student author of article in

Volume 1 from THE article 7th Aug 2008

Volume 2
Volume 2 journal

  • Volume 1 successful enough for OUP to support volume 2

  • BBSRC grant obtained to evaluate the impact of Bioscience Horizons on postgraduate training

    • Survey of academics and students ongoing. Responses from 95 academics and 125 students to date

Of course there are some warts
Of course there are some warts… journal

Concerns raised are:-

  • Supervisors reticent if no publication attributable to them

  • Some think students should apply directly to the journal, not via their University

  • Some think the number of nominations per University should not be restricted

  • Some think undergraduate research should only be included in mainstream journals

Future prospects
Future Prospects journal

  • Aim now to secure journal’s future financially for e.g. 5 years

  • Contacts with learned societies to complement their educational programmes

  • International opportunities?

  • Postgraduate opportunities?

  • Opportunities for articles other than results from final year projects to be published

The journal as a learning tool example 1
The journal as a learning tool – example 1 journal

Level 2 students

Tutees told to read a paper and think that their research project the

following year could be good enough to be nominated for


Can they identify with the generic skills – e.g. writing style,

graphical presentation of data etc.?

What do they need to learn and practice during level 2 to be

prepared for their final year project?

The journal as a learning tool example 2
The journal as a learning tool – example 2 journal

High-achieving final year students preparing for PhD

We already see that the major difficulty that students have in

rewriting their paper for the journal is making the transition from a

full detailed report of all that they did, to a publication-ready

manuscript that focuses on the results, the methodology used and

the interpretation of the data.

There is scope here to use the journal format as a learning tool.

The journal as a learning tool example 3
The journal as a learning tool – example 3 journal

UCAS applicants

An undergraduate research journal is a good way to help University

applicants identify with research. They can see research relating to

them through the word “undergraduate”. That it is published

professionally and available for their families to see is also

motivational and a good way to disseminate University business to

the community.

Summary journal

  • A national journal to publish undergraduate research in Biosciences has been established

  • The journal is gaining the attention of the UK research and teaching community

  • Several opportunities exist to develop the journal to enhance research-led teaching and student learning opportunities

References journal

  • Tatalovic M. (2008) JCom, Journal of Science Communication, 7:3. Student science publishing: an exploratory study of undergraduate science research journals and popular science magazines in the US and Europe

  • Walkington H and Jenkins A (2008) Brookes Ejournal of learning and teaching, 2:3. Embedding Undergraduate Research Publication in the Student Learning Experience.

  • Corbyn, Z, (2008). Times Higher Education, 7th August. Let students enjoy the power of print.

Acknowledgements journal

  • LTSN (HEA Biosciences), LTEF (U of Leeds), BBSRC and OUP for funding

  • Editorial Board and OUP for collegiality and development

  • Aurora Levesley for administrative support