In 2023, Current Issues in Education (CIE) celebrated its 25th anniversary as a student-led, open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal produced by doctoral students at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University. Founded by Gene V. Glass, David Berliner, and Jim Middleton in 1998, this monumental milestone provided an occasion to reflect on CIE's evolution and the role of student-led journals in the scholarly landscape.
Student-run academic journals face significant challenges due to limited funding and frequent turnover in student leadership, resulting in their underrepresentation in academic conversations. Despite these hurdles, student journals serve as lively spaces for scholarly engagement and productivity for both editors and authors. This special edition of CIE aims to highlight the experiences of those involved in student-run academic journals and uncover the influence of these experiences on their academic identities. The influence of student journals goes beyond academia by reaching audiences that include practitioners and the general public (Theeke & Hall, 2021). For example, student journals published by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) members publish different types of contributions beyond the academic research paper format (Leibman & White, 1989) which are useful for a readership who seeks practical solutions to legal problems. Likewise, management student-run journals have also been shown to be beneficial “to break down barriers between research, teaching, and practice” (Theeke and Hall, p. 1), ultimately increasing research use.
In the field of education, there is an opportunity for student-run journals to enhance the usability of research outcomes to solve problems (Fischman et al., 2022). In this field, student journals serve as a bridge to connect two (apparently different) worlds: educational practice (e.g., teaching in schools at all educational levels, curriculum development, teachers’ education) and academic research. For instance, students at the undergraduate level must complete student teaching rotations as part of their education. Their exposure to classrooms and school settings is invaluable. These students are exposed to theories and teaching strategies both in the classroom and in their practices in various contexts, which is an opportunity to try and experiment with methods and models that may serve different school communities. These student teaching experiences provide them with the insights to pose research questions about teaching and learning, potentially leading to purposeful writing projects and manuscripts to submit for publication in journals where other students serve as mentors (editors, reviewers) (Ng et al., 2017). In other words, education journals led by students are good examples of publication venues that intend “to contribute useable, citable knowledge to a community” (Downs, 2021, p. 21).
Most student-led journals, like CIE, are also open-access venues, which promote the exposure of ideas broadly and ultimately provide the community with the open-access citation advantage, as the rate of citations is 18% more in open-access venues than in non-open-access publications (Piwowar et al., 2018). Most existing journals are open access, and despite a latent challenge in their discoverability, some scholarly databases, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), are keen to include student journals in their records (see the interview with Judith Barnsby in this Special Issue).
Some student journals face a lack of institutional support due to the belief that these journals’ reputation is not as high as more prestigious academic journals, and therefore, they are not relevant in the scholarly publishing landscape (Cotton, 2006; Ng et al., 2017). In this vein, some authors question the credibility of student-led journals because students are seen as inexperienced and unprepared to conduct the editorial process, undermining the students’ agency in their fields (Ng, 2017; Ng et al., 2017). Despite these critics, researchers have proven that publishing in student journals supports short- and long-term academic achievement, “including peer-reviewed publications, grants, and attainment of faculty positions” (Al-Busaidi et al., 2019, p. 4).
This special edition features six articles that explore the vital and distinct role of student-run journals in providing publishing opportunities and shaping the scholarly identity of authors and editorial teams. We hope you enjoy this special edition and the unique place that student-run journals have in the peer-review publishing sphere. Please continue to advocate and support student-run journals with your numerous treasures.
Ivonne Lujano Vilchis (ABD), Dr. Derek Thurber, and Dr. Matt Romkey, Special Issue Editors
Al-Busaidi, I. S., Wells, C. I., & Wilkinson, T. J. (2019). Publication in a medical student journal predicts short- and long-term academic success: A matched-cohort study. BMC Medical Education, 19(1), 271. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-019-1704-x
Cotton, N. C. (2006). The competence of students as editors of law reviews: A response to Judge Posner. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 154(4), 951–982. https://doi.org/10.2307/40041289
Downs, D. (2021). Spanning student networks: Designing undergraduate research journal websites to foster student–student mentoring. Computers and Composition, 60, 102642. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compcom.2021.102642
Fischman, G., Amrein-Beardsley, A., & McBride-Schreiner, S. (2022). Education research is still the hardest science: A proposal for improving its trustworthiness and usability. In F1000Research. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.109700.1
Leibman, J. H., & White, J. P. (1989). How the student-edited law Journals make their publication decisions. Journal of Legal Education, 39(3), 387–425.
Ng, K. (2017, February 19). Student-Run Academic Journals: A New Trend in Scholarly Communication. 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting (February 16-20, 2017). https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2017/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/19950
Ng, K., Asadi-Lari, M., Chan, S. W. S., Arora, R. K., Qaiser, F., Sharlandjieva, V., & Noukhovich, S. (2017). Student-run academic journals in STEM: A growing trend in scholarly communication. Science Editor, 40(2), 131–135.
Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larivière, V., Alperin, J. P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., Farley, A., West, J., & Haustein, S. (2018). The state of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ, 6, e4375. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4375
Theeke, M., & Hall, M. I. (2021). Cocurricular learning in management education: Lessons from legal education’s use of student-edited journals. Journal of Management Education, 10525629211014240. https://doi.org/10.1177/10525629211014240