I am pleased to announce the launch of a new student publication in IUScholarWorks: Primary Source: The Undergraduate Journal of History at Indiana University. The journal was previously published on a standalone website until Vianna Newman, current editor-in-chief, initiated the transition to IUScholarWorks in fall 2014. In the following interview, Newman shares some of her experiences as the editor of an undergraduate publication and the journal’s move to IUScholarWorks:
Shayna Pekala: Tell me a little about Primary Source.
Vianna Newman: A group of undergraduate history students founded Primary Source in the spring of 2011. They wanted to give undergraduates around Indiana and the Big 10 the opportunity to publish their work, which is pretty rare for undergrads. We publish an issue every semester with articles on a wide range of historical topics. The journal has been in its second generation – with none of the original members still on staff – since spring of last year.
How long have you been involved with the journal and in what capacity?
I joined the journal as an editor in January of 2012, and became editor-in-chief in August 2013.
Why did you decide to migrate the journal to IUScholarWorks?
I realized IUScholarWorks would help us with the editing process, specifically in keeping track of our edits and facilitating communication between editors, authors, and myself. Also, since IUScholarWorks hosts so many other journals, I know the website will be a good long-term home for the journal, more so than our previous one. The association with the other journals will also, I hope, increase awareness and readership of Primary Source.
How has the journal benefited since the move to IUScholarWorks?
I’ve been able to keep closer tabs on the progress that’s being made, and it’s been easier to look at and compare edits at various stages. I’ve been more in touch with how the editors are doing, which helps smooth the process.
What do you find most challenging/rewarding about being a journal editor?
The most challenging thing is keeping all the balls in the air. Every semester I’ve worked with anywhere from four to eight editors and five to seven authors. The most rewarding thing is being able to present these students’ great work to the world, even better than when they sent it to us, and knowing that you’ve helped turn something from an essay for a class into a published piece of scholarship.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in becoming involved with the editorial functions of a journal?
Find an existing student publication that really grabs your interest, for example Primary Source if you’re into history, and apply for an editorial position. Or start such a publication if there isn’t one! There are other university journals as well that will take on students as assistants and interns. But in order to secure such a position, the most important thing is to be a skilled writer and to have some experience with peer editing, or tutoring, or helping others with writing in any way.
What advice do you have for authors who are interested in submitting an article to Primary Source?
History is a very broad subject, and we encourage breadth in submission topics! In addition to well-written papers, we are looking for a good amount of analysis, and not just summarization of facts. Authors should take the time to make sure they’ve really developed a good argument. We receive a lot of papers that have great ideas or start well, but don’t quite go as far as we’d like them to. Finally, if authors have any questions, they shouldn’t hesitate to email at email@example.com.