Students Share Research and Creative Work and Gain Editorial Experience through Scholarly Publications

In addition to their classroom assignments and myriad other commitments many students at California State University, Dominguez Hills are also intellectually and creatively engaged scholars who have taken to sharing their research and creative projects by contributing to scholarly publications.

The English department’s literary journal, Enjambed, the Electronic Student Journal of Anthropology (ESJOA), the Chicana and Chicano studies e-newsletter Adelante, and the Electronic Journal of Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (NCRP) feature student work, and to some degree or another are edited by students.

Margaret Manning and Amy Blair show the Electronic Journal of Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding e-journal, and Joni Johnson shows Enjambed on an iPad.

Margaret Manning and Amy Blair show the Electronic Journal of Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding on a laptop computer, and Joni Johnson shows Enjambed on an iPad.

Enjambed editor Raul Martinez, who is finishing his thesis for a master’s in English with an emphasis in composition at the university, was a little nervous about whether he’d receive enough submissions for the most recent publication. However, by the deadline, he had received more than 50, about a third of which were selected for publication.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised in seeing the quality of the work that gets turned in. It’s usually some top-notch stuff overall,” Martinez, who works on campus as a lead English supplemental instructor through the Title V Encounter to Excellence program, said of the submissions he has helped to evaluate since he began as a member of the Enjambed editorial board in 2010.

Entirely run by student volunteers, Enjambed has been distributed in printed form to approximately 200 English students and supporters each spring since 2009. This year, the print version of Enjambed will be distributed during a launch party and reading held at El Pescador restaurant in Carson, on Monday, May 20, at 3 p.m., and an electronic version has been posted to the English department’s homepage as well, for more universal access.

Adelanté NewsletterThe university’s longest-running scholarly publication—established in 2004—ESJOA was initially printed and produced by alumnus and former president of the anthropology club Christopher Potts (Class of ’05, B.A., cultural anthropology; ’08, M.A., English), but later languished until 2009, when it was revived in its current online format.

Also run by volunteers, the student editors strategically publish ESJOA— accessible through the Department of Anthropology’s homepage and Google Scholar—in the summer and winter when they have more time to review and edit abstracts and article submissions through an anonymous peer-review process. The timing also allows contributors to complete class projects and prepare them for submission.

“If students do a research paper for class or if they do field research and they’ve written a report or paper on that, that can be included in the journal,” said McNair Scholar and senior anthropology major Alexxandra Salazar, who is a member of the ESJOA editorial board and a past editor. “However, even students who aren’t involved in research can contribute to scholarly publication.”

While priority is given to anthropology students, ESJOA editor Mario Castillo, a junior McNair scholar majoring in anthropology, hopes his legacy will be to make the journal more widely known. He and Salazar are exploring ways to open ESJOA to submissions by students from other disciplines on campus as well as anthropology students from other institutions, which would make it a national peer-reviewed publication.

“It parallels the trend in anthropology of trying to make information more open access and a lot more affordable,” Castillo asserted.

Adelanté NewsletterCastillo pointed out that student-run journals that are focused on student research are uncommon, and even rare, at a national level, not only in anthropology but also in other fields.

With the support from the chair of NCRP A. Marco Turk and recently appointed dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Munashe Furusa, adjunct assistant professor Margaret Manning has been able to design a polished, interactive, and widely accessible web-based NCRP e-journal, the first for the program. And through an internship this spring semester, Amy Blair, a senior majoring in NCRP with a dance minor, helped to promote the new publication to the campus community through emails and social media.

“Making connections with people whether through email or talking with them in person, it seems really simple, but I’m discovering that you can actually make really good connections with people who you don’t really know,” Blair said. “I’m learning as I go along.”

The NCRP e-journal is intended as an open-source tool that serves to inform NCRP’s thriving online graduate campus worldwide, and which is permanently archived for later access.

“Students do research, write the paper, and the next logical step is they want to share it … that makes it all very exciting. [The journal] gives students something to look forward to, something to aim for,” said Manning. “I’m always looking for something new and interesting… and then to share it.”

The NCRP e-journal, which is slated to publish about every three or four months, went from a germ of an idea to publication in less than 18 months, in part because not every submission went through the peer-review process, making it an ideal format for submissions in varied media.

Students of all levels, as well as alumni and faculty are able to publish high-quality, original research on topics related—in any manner—to negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding through a full spectrum of media, from essays to poetry to photography to art or performances or interviews recorded on video.

Enjambed layout artist and photographer Amanda Reyes and editor Raul Martinez flank faculty advisor Rhea Lewitzki.

Enjambed layout artist and photographer Amanda Reyes and editor Raul Martinez flank faculty advisor Rhea Lewitzki.

Enjambed is also highly interdisciplinary. As a member of the Enjambed editorial board, alumna Joni Johnson (Class of  ‘10, B.A., English literature), and current graduate student in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition, looks for visual and written works that are well composed.

“Not just is it aesthetically appealing, but what sort of message does it send to the reader?” said the English department tutor of what she asks herself when reviewing submissions. “Criteria we were looking for in terms of what’s engaging about the piece; Does it say something different or new or provocative?”

Johnson, who is also responsible for promoting the publications through emails and postings, noted that for the written submissions, grammatical perfection is not so critical. Rather, creativity is the benchmark.

“Reading these student’s submissions, who aren’t English students, per se, it’s very interesting to see what sort of creative juices flow throughout these students,” said Johnson, who works as administrative support for the Child Development Program at the university. “And they’re excited, too, when their work gets published.”

Amanda Reyes, an English graduate student with a concentration in rhetoric and composition, has contributed to the design of the journal with photography, layout, and editing, as well as content.

“[Being published in Enjambed] was an opportunity to have some kind of outlet, something’s that credible, more than just my journal or my diaries or my own personal work. It was a big deal for me the first time I was published,” Reyes said. “The first time I submitted it was a let’s see what happens type of thing. This time I was more aware of my audience and the fact that I was submitting to Enjambed, so it kind of changed the way that I went about [the writing process].”

Adelanté NewsletterJosé R. López Morín, professor and chair of Chicana/o studies and co-faculty editor, along with Marisela R. Chávez, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, of the department’s online newsletter Adelante, said it is not only a vehicle for students to contribute essays but as a way to generate interest to attract more students to the major.

ESJOA editor Castillo couldn’t agree more.

“The reason that we publish the anthropology journal is not only to demonstrate that we can have high academic standards in our department, but also to show students who are considering anthropology that these are the type of offerings our department has. And although we don’t have the budget of the big R1 institutions, we still have a rigorous academic journal, we still work with professors in a meaningful manner, and it’s worthwhile to consider Dominguez Hills anthropology,” the Anthropology Club member said. “It will give you a great education.”

And while ESJOA and Adelante do not enjoy the same funding as the NCRP e-journal, as always, content is king, and with the help of a well-designed document they hold their own.

“One of our [alumni], Juan Maceo, had the ability to create a wonderful e-newsletter online. Juan graduated last year, and he was kind enough to create it again for us this year,” Morín said. “We cannot stress the importance of having someone who can create a colorful and creative PDF. Our readers like to see colors and images, which is central to our newsletter.”

Morín admits that students could do more, but recruiting volunteer student editors as well as production artists has been a challenge in a department that is small. But he does what he can, and at the beginning of the spring semester, he recruits one or two students from his classes to help with developing content for the newsletter.

“I assign them at least seven topics, which deal with student success, concerns, and community issues. The editors identify students who would like to write an article on that particular topic,” Morín said. “Their role is not just to inform, but to comment and give it their own critical spin.”

Morín also has an ace up his sleeve for enticing student volunteers. He ends Adelante on a high note, featuring a success story, such as a profile on a student who is continuing on to graduate school.

“It has definitely generated a lot of enthusiasm amongst our students because they visit my office and state that they would like to be the editors or write an article for our next newsletter,” Morin said.

Even if submissions aren’t accepted, many students involved in the process stress the effort is beneficial for honing writing and submission skills. And once a student’s abilities are up to par, they often find their work published on a subsequent try.

To browse the Electronic Journal of Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding e-journal and to subscribe to receive notifications, visit www.ejournalncrp.org.

To link to Adelante, visit cah.csudh.edu/chicanastudies.

To link to the Electronic Student Journal of Anthropology, visit www.nbs.csudh.edu/anthropology.

To link to Enjambed, visit cah.csudh.edu/english.