USURJ: Exemplifying undergraduate research excellence

By in News

Research journals are one of the ways to share discoveries around the world, and the University of Saskatchewan’s Undergraduate Research Journal continues to publish articles from different disciplines, displaying undergraduate students’ academic achievement and excellence in research.

USURJ is an online academic journal that features original research by U of S undergraduates and presents multidisciplinary collections of articles that are reviewed using a double-blind process by U of S faculty members and, occasionally, by faculty from other Canadian institutions.

USURJ highlights student research.

The multidisciplinary undergraduate research journal was first proposed in 2012 by U of S undergraduate students from different disciplines. The proposal was supported by the Office of the Vice-President Research and the University Learning Centre. The journal’s first issue was published in 2014.

Mariam Goubran, a fourth-year microbiology and immunology student and USURJ’s health sciences senior editor, shares the reason she joined the editorial board.

“USURJ is an open access journal, so anyone can view your work. We get many excellent submissions every year and it would be unfortunate if that work could not be shared, and that is probably the main reason I wanted to work with USURJ. Undergraduate students do amazing research at the U of S, and the journal offers an opportunity to showcase their work,” Goubran said, in an email to the Sheaf.

Dan Surkan, an upper-year student pursuing two degrees in regional and urban planning and civil engineering, published a paper through USURJ in spring 2016 entitled “The Effectiveness of Saskatoon’s Bicycle Boulevard.” Surkan shares his thoughts on the journal.

“My experience with USURJ has been extremely positive. The peer-reviewed publishing process at USURJ required me to drastically improve my writing. My paper went from simply meeting the class requirements to being a highly-refined document that is easily accessible and understandable for a broad audience … but the editing team works closely with you throughout the entire process,” Surkan said, in an email to the Sheaf.

The journal publishes two issues a year, one at the end of each academic term, amounting to 15–20 articles per year. U of S undergraduate students in any college can submit an article to USURJ. U of S alumni are also eligible to submit work they conducted as undergraduate students, as long as they do so within two years of graduating. Online submissions can be made through the journal’s website.

Surkan shares the benefits of getting a paper published.

“Getting published in a field you are passionate about only does positive things for your resume. It shows that you have the initiative, dedication and capabilities to really contribute to your chosen field of study … USURJ encourages students to become better writers, communicators and professionals. It is an enlightening experience to craft your work into a format that is easily accessible to the broader population. Publishing your work is worth it for this experience alone,” Surkan said.

According to Goubran, the timeline from submission to publication depends on many factors, including the search for a suitable faculty member or graduate student to review the paper and the extent of revisions required from the author. Thus, the editorial process can take from a few weeks to several months, but it ensures that USURJ publishes high quality work.

Although not all submissions can be published, Goubran believes that students have much to gain when they submit their papers to USURJ, including the opportunity to get detailed constructive feedback from an expert in their field and to become more familiar with the peer review process and the steps involved in publishing a paper. Further, having a paper published is a gread addition to a student’s resume, and also allows contribution to a research community.

USURJ is always looking for submissions from all disciplines and also accepts submissions for cover art for each issue.

Surkan encourages students to submit their work to the journal.

“I would definitely recommend that other students submit their work through USURJ. This process has provided me with several positive benefits … USURJ allows students to turn their undergraduate projects into something more than a check mark in their degree requirements.”

Jaline Broqueza

Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor