The University Record, October 16, 1995

Student journal provides valuable experiences for editors

By Bernie DeGroat
News and Information Services

The influence of child care on women's political participation ... President Carter's human rights policy toward Argentina ... the pros and cons of decentralization in education.

These are topics that may typically be found in any leading political science journal featuring research by top scholars worldwide.

They also can be found in the fall 1995 issue of the only peer-reviewed academic journal in the country published by political science undergraduate students---the Michigan Journal of Political Science (MJPS).

Founded in 1983, the MJPS is published twice a year by U-M undergraduates who review, select and edit submissions of articles mostly from undergraduate students at the U-M and from around the country.

An editorial staff of about 25 students, led by two co-editors-in-chief, narrow the field from roughly 20 submissions per issue to the top five papers, of which three are ultimately published. In addition, two or three book reviews by staff members are included in the journal.

"There's a tremendous amount of work in putting the journal together," says co-editor-in-chief Jeffrey Kwastel, a junior majoring in political science. "It is definitely a bottom-up process, because if we didn't have the type of people working with us that we do, this wouldn't be possible."

Political science professor and chair John E. Jackson believes it is important for undergraduate students to have academic writing opportunities outside the classroom.

"There are obviously benefits to the authors to get something published and, more importantly, to go through the process of having an article reviewed and commented on, which they revise for publication, a substantially more rigorous undertaking than revising a paper for a course," he says.

Jackson also says that the process of publishing the MJPS is valuable to the students involved in editing the submitted articles.

"We sit down and describe the peer-review process to the editors and talk to them about how to evaluate the manuscript and work with the author to improve it and see a finished product," he says. "That is certainly a part of the academic profession that undergraduates almost never see."

Kwastel, who has worked on three issues of the journal, says that his experience has helped him develop skills---editing, working with people, budgeting, marketing, fund raising and organizing---that he can apply elsewhere.

"The journal has helped me tremendously," he says. "It has improved my abilities to read a very intricate academic document and be able to assess its quality, and for someone who wants to stay in the field and perhaps even write a thesis, this has definitely been a great experience."

Current funding of the MJPS is provided by the Michigan Student Assembly, International Institute, Center for Political Studies, Department of Political Science and the LS&A Honors Program. A donation by alumnus Harold Abrams has helped ensure the financial future of the journal.

For more information about the MJPS or to obtain a copy, send an e-mail message to mjps.editors@umich.edu.