University of Michigan library

Academic Innovation

Student Journals Catalyze Lifelong Learning and Success

A photograph of a young woman studying with books and a computer at a table in the U-M Law Library.

In many cases, students go to college for experiences and insights that will prepare them for their professional lives. Michigan Publishing provides a meaningful, measurable output of that experience.

Working on the UM Undergraduate Research Journal has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Through working on a student journal, I’ve gained faculty and student connections around campus, and even at other campuses. UMURJ has given me immense satisfaction of seeing a polished print and online journal, and a feeling of accomplishment after a year’s hard work. Michigan Publishing has been instrumental in this process, especially in bringing a handful of articles together into a professional print edition.

- Matthew Ward
UMURJ Editor (2018-2019)

Michigan Journals is home to more than 30 electronic serials, publishing peer-reviewed scholarship in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Among these are unique student-run journals that allow students at Michigan to publish in an impactful way.

$3.5 million in grants were given to Michigan Publishing in the last five years to support innovative new approaches to scholarly communication from funders including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, the Andrew W . Mellon Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

“Working as an editor on a student-run publication gave me the opportunity to work on projects I found meaningful with like-minded people,” said Caitlin Heenan from the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health (UJPH). “We also found new outlets to share our work with others and expand the reach of our publication through a partnership with Michigan Publishing.”

Within the Michigan Journals program, student-led publications are treated like traditional academic journals, with articles provided in a fully searchable HTML format that Google Scholar will index, and with access to copy editors, professional typesetting, and printing.

Working as an editor on a student-run publication gave me the opportunity to work on projects I found meaningful with like-minded people. As an editor for the Undergraduate Journal of Public Health, I worked with student writers to hone their research, literature reviews, and opinions on an array of health-related topics. I created lasting relationships with those who are passionate about the topics I am also passionate about and learned about new fields of research. Michigan Publishing helped our editors stay focused on the quality of our publication by taking away the stress of having to copy edit, typeset, and print the journal ourselves. We also found new outlets to share our work with others and expand the reach of our publication through a partnership with Michigan Publishing.

- Caitlin Heenan
UJPH Editor (2018-2019)

This seriousness is key to the mission of the Michigan Journals program. “When you can say 40,000 people looked at your articles, that’s a lot different than just distributing copies to 50 people in your department,” said Michigan Publishing Journals Coordinator Sean Guynes.

When you can say 40,000 people looked at your articles, that’s a lot different than just distributing copies to 50 people in your department.

- Sean Guynes
Michigan Publishing Journals Coordinator

For many years, the University Library has supported the ambitious students in U-M’s prestigious Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) with the annual publication of the University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal. Funded through UROP and the Office of Research, the journal has been active for 14 years, a track record which is unusual for student-led publications to achieve.

According to Guynes, this journals program is a way to help students beyond their Michigan Experience. “It’s about pride in research. They want the professional experience,” he said. “They have the Michigan degree, but now they also have this experience as an editor. They want to show they’re more than just a 4.0.”

The way I see it, publishing and research are, in many ways, complements. When you better your skills in one, you better your skills in the other, and consequently, working as an editor for UMURJ has improved my own abilities to write and verbalize the information gained through my research. I’ve been given this opportunity to look at data from a viewpoint that parallels the way in which others view my own data, and it has been an experience to ultimately improve the efficacy of my words. Of course, for an organization of students with little to no experience in professional publishing grounds, the reigns are quite unstable, but receiving guidance through institutions such as Michigan Publishing allows for the creation of the sturdy foundation needed to prosper and grow. With each bit of intelligence gained, I am able to implement change in both my own work and that of others to foster a culture of continuous learning that is research.

- Anna Kang
MURJ Editor (2019-2020)

Student-led publications:

  • University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal
  • Undergraduate Journal of Public Health
  • Michigan Quarterly Review
  • Michigan Journal of Medicine
  • Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation