Facilitating Student Growth and Elevating Access: The Inaugural Edition of Peer Review

The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) has just launched its inaugural edition of its undergraduate research journal, Peer Review: The Undergraduate Research Journal of the Ethnography of the University Initiative. As the title suggests, our journal exists specifically as a platform to highlight research conducted by undergraduate students.  Moreover, the scope of the journal is to publish research that centers on the university experience (at the University of Illinois or otherwise).

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Cover art for the journal, designed by Brett Lauren Eaton

EUI promotes student research on universities and colleges as complex institutions. Based at the University of Illinois, EUI supports faculty from various disciplinary and methodological backgrounds to integrate original student research on universities and colleges into their courses through faculty development workshops, customized web environments, Institutional Review Board permissions, and bi-annual student conferences. In EUI-affiliated courses, students use a variety of ethnographic, archival, and related methods to examine the university in the broader context of our social and political times. At the end of each semester, students have the opportunity to contribute their work to the EUI collection in the U of I’s digital repository, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS).  Now, as we launch our journal, students have a new outlet to highlight their work.

In the spirit of a journal for undergraduate students, five undergraduate editors managed the selection of articles, led the editing of those works selected, and facilitated the final production of our first edition. The most integral characteristic of our journal, in my view, is the open access platform through which we make our journal available digitally and free.  While much of academic scholarship is hidden behind the proverbial wall of institutional journal subscription fees, the very possibility to expand the audience of academic work through the Open Journals Systems (OJS) is exciting. Investing time and resources into undergraduate research is telling of the University’s commitment to its students and to fostering a new generation of future graduate students and researchers who will likely consider this early outlet for their research as a vital component of their decision to continue important work.

Our inaugural issue features two peer-reviewed articles. The first examines accessibility issues at sororities and highlights the limitations of temporary accessibility accommodations typically made during recruitment whereas the second article examines Illinois State University’s student health agenda and suggests that despite links between student health and academics, student health is taken for granted. The digital platform uniquely affords us the ability to also publish and highlight research that is presented in multi-media platforms. As such, our first multi-media project explores the experiences of LGBTQ students as they engage in different social spaces across campus.

We invite you to explore the online platform of the journal: https://ugresearchjournals.illinois.edu/index.php/preui/index

 T. Jameson Brewer, Senior Editor

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