In early 2020, on the eve of the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, two colleagues (Dr. Anna Robb and Dr. Richard Holme, Division of Education and Society) – who lead the highly successful Master of Education (MEd) programme – discussed the prospect of establishing a new open-access journal that would publish and share the best work of our students. Having surveyed the field, for similar publishing opportunities, there appeared to be a gap in the market for those beginning their journey toward becoming a published academic. It was decided the journal would provide a supportive space for our students to learn about the process of publishing and to see their work in print. Little did we know the work that would be involved to get this project off the ground and little did we know how difficult this would be while also dealing with the ongoing chaos and uncertainty of a pandemic that is not over yet. Despite these challenges we persevered, helped by mentoring from senior academic colleagues, and given considerable support from experts in the University Library and Learning Centre.
In November 2022, the first issue of the Journal of Social Science Student Research (JOSSSR) will be published. The journal is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, open access journal which aims to support students and early career researchers (ERCs) as they take their first steps to disseminate and publish their academic work. Social sciences are defined in their broadest sense as guided by the ESRC: the study of society and the manner in which people behave and influence the world around us. Initially we are seeking academic articles of between 3,000-4,000 words and blogposts of between 500 and 1000 words, however the aim is to support a variety of formats in the future. This will reflect the changing nature of academic publishing and dissemination which will be part of our authors academic future. We envisage the journal to be of most interest to students in the School of Humanities, Social Science and Law, however due to the broad scope of the social science definition, we are keen to provide publication opportunities across the whole University. This is an entirely online journal, open-access, and each published article will be given a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).
We envisage that the articles and blogposts will be mainly derived from the excellent dissertations written by our students at doctoral and masters-level as well as at undergraduate level. A key criterion for accepted submissions is that the submission has an academic sponsor and further submission guidelines are available on the website. Each submission will be peer-reviewed, and feedback will be provided to the author. As many academics will testify, the submission process for journals, and the feedback, can be a confusing and sometimes disheartening experience. One of the aims of the journal is to give the authors insight into this process, while creating a supportive writing environment to encourage publication, and crucially not demoralise contributors. An ethos of care towards the authors is therefore paramount. Having said that though, the possibility of rejection is also present, as these experiences can also provide valuable learning experiences that push and improve the quality of the writing.
Establishing a journal – from scratch amidst a once in a century pandemic – has presented a range of challenges for the two academic editors, and so this has also been a valuable staff development exercise. Processes and policies have been put in place, and we are so grateful for the support of the Research team within the Library and Learning Centre. As we raise awareness of the journal, there will be further scope for staff to join the editorial team and the review team. Therefore, if this is something you think you would be interested in then please contact the journal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, we would like to encourage all staff to encourage any student who has produced high quality and original work in their studies, to have a go at turning it into an article or a blog post and to email it to us for consideration of publication. Further announcements about the first issue will also be forthcoming!