of Undergraduate Research
Statement on Faculty-Student Collaboration
on behalf of KJUR Shippensburg Editorial Team
The purpose of the Keystone Journal for Undergraduate Research (KJUR) is to stimulate undergraduate research across the PASSHE universities by providing an outlet for completed projects and thus help to add value to students overall educational experience. According to the Council on Undergraduate Research, faculty mentors are pivotal in ensuring the success of the student [research] experience. Consequently, a primary goal of the KJUR is to promote faculty-student collaboration at each of our member institutions. Papers submitted to the journal should list an undergraduate student (or students) as primary author/s with the faculty mentor(s) listed as either co-author(s) or mentor(s). The following are a list of expectations for undergraduate student authors and faculty mentors adapted from the Council on Undergraduate Research publication "How to Mentor Undergraduate Students" by Carolyn Ash Merkel (California Institute of Technology) and Shenda M. Baker (Harvey Mudd College). While this list is intended to be neither comprehensive nor universally applicable, it should provide a baseline for structuring the collaborative undergraduate research experience.
Expectations for Students (Primary Authors)
- Students should expect to do the majority of the development and execution of the research program under the supervision of their faculty mentor(s). A meaningful undergraduate research experience (URE) requires a significant commitment on the part of the student researcher; consequently, students have the right to expect a reasonable commitment of time and attention on the part of the faculty. Both parties should plan to set up and maintain a regular meeting schedule throughout the duration of the project.
- Students should expect to work closely with their faculty mentor throughout the entire project from inception through article revision and publication. Project conception and development may take place in a variety of settings (class projects, independent studies, UGR grants, etc.), but reaching the level of sophistication required for publication in KJUR will require close supervision by faculty collaborators, particularly during key decision-making periods of project conception, planning, and manuscript revision.
- In consultation with their mentors, students should be prepared to work independently and to spend a significant amount of time on their research projects outside of normal class preparation throughout the duration of the project. KJUR seeks articles written by students who have had the opportunity to conduct research outside of their formal classroom experience and within their major field of study. Class assignments can serve as a starting point for independent research; however, they generally lack the insight or depth of understanding that the editors feel is appropriate for publication in this journal.
- Students should understand that while undergraduate research is first and foremost an educational activity, the point of undergraduate research is to introduce and immerse students in the professional activities of their field. Consequently, the results of their research should correspond to the standards of their discipline and contribute meaningfully to the broader body of knowledge. Students can expect faculty mentors to explain the expectations of the discipline in which they are conducting research and writing and should endeavor to respond constructively to any critiques.
- The goal of the KJUR is to accept only the highest quality undergraduate research projects. In order to accomplish this, students should understand that the process of revising their papers for publication may take a significant amount of time and require multiple rewrites.
Expectations for Faculty Mentors and Co-Authors
- Faculty mentors should understand that mentoring students is first and foremost an educational activity. According to the Council on Undergraduate Research, undergraduate research is an apprenticeship [through which] the mentor teaches through example and coaching, and students learn by doing. Consequently, while keeping an eye on specific end results (publication, conference presentation, etc.), faculty mentors should also bear in mind that the process of student research and writing itself is perhaps the most effective means of teaching students professional standards and critical thinking.
- Mentors should plan to accommodate students with varying levels of preparation, skills and knowledge coming into the research project. Undergraduate research collaborators generally require a relatively structured environment for their projects as this is probably the first time they have undertaken such a lengthy and intellectually challenging project. Bearing this in mind, mentors should consider how best to guide students in their projects and set clear, reasonable expectations for each stage of the project.
- A meaningful undergraduate research experience (URE) requires a significant commitment on the part of the student researcher; consequently, students have the right to expect a reasonable commitment of time and attention on the part of the faculty collaborator. Both parties should plan to set up and maintain a regular meeting schedule throughout the duration of the project.
- Faculty mentors should be prepared to work closely with students at all stages of the project whether the faculty member is listed as a mentor or co-author. However, the type of involvement will most likely vary over time and with consideration to the type of project undertaken (independent study, research assistantship, UGR grant, etc.). When ethically done, a faculty member should claim co-authorship when collaboration has been intensive, the time commitment and contribution has been significant, and findings are those a faculty member can stand behind. While the notion of co-authorship can vary significantly across disciplines, the spirit of this guideline is clearly on the side of significant involvement by faculty mentors in the final research outcome whether the faculty member sees himself or herself as co-author or mentor.
- Faculty mentors should be responsible for guiding students through the KJUR revision process. Most students will not be familiar with the concept of peer review and may be surprised by the extended process of revision required before publication. Mentors should make sure student collaborators understand that the process of revising their papers for publication may take a significant amount of time and require multiple rewrites.
Carolyn Ash Merkel and Shenda M. Baker, How to Mentor Undergraduates (Washington, D.C.: Council on Undergraduate Research, 2002).