Writing the world

BGSU online journal showcases undergraduate articles

Writing the world

By Bonnie Blankinship

Where can you find information about the controversial subject of corporal punishment in South Korea? Almost nowhere, except for a paper by recent graduate Seney (“Layne”) Higginbotham, “The Cane of Love: Social and Cultural Reform of Corporal Punishment in South Korea.”

“This is of worldwide importance for underdeveloped countries where access to books and journals is limited”It is among papers by BGSU undergraduates published in International ResearchScape Journal, an online, open access journal created by the International Studies Program. The journal was created with two key goals: publishing outstanding undergraduate research with an international focus by BGSU students from all disciplines, and fostering mentorship and research collaboration between faculty mentors and undergraduate students.

Students and scholars all over the world are reading International ResearchScape, thanks in part to its being listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, the world’s most comprehensive directory of scientific and scholarly journals. The BGSU journal drew the attention of the directory, and a representative contacted founding editor Dr. Federico Chalupa, director of International Studies. After undergoing a rigorous quality-assurance process, International ResearchScape joined the listing in February 2014.

The result was a surge of downloads. Between February and July of this year, there were 1,500 full-text downloads of articles, a rate of about 258 a month.

“This is of worldwide importance for underdeveloped countries where access to books and journals is limited,” Chalupa said. “The philosophy is to give open access to scientific and academic research. This is a global issue, and there are organizations working to disseminate knowledge without profit in a situation where the cost of journal subscriptions alone goes up an average of 7-8 percent a year.”

Higginbotham’s paper has drawn great interest in part, no doubt, because it tackles a sensitive subject about which not much has been written, especially in Korea or in English, said Dr. Walter Grunden, history, her faculty mentor. “This was the most bold and original, but also the toughest topic,” he said.

“Layne was a pioneer in taking it on,” he said. “This is a topic that hasn’t received much attention, partially because it’s too difficult to find background information on it. She really had to start with nothing. It’s something with a lot of gravity and impact and that could probably only be written by an outsider. I can assure you plenty of people in Korea are reading it.”

Although it took four stressful months of “trial and error, scouring the Internet, the library and OhioLINK, finding sources a week before my paper was due,” Higginbotham said, “knowing that other college students and academics are reading and citing my paper, and that I could help them with their research, has been the most meaningful thing to me. It’s been humbling, and I’m happy and grateful to Dr. Grunden for all his help.”

May graduate Una Bobinac’s paper on “The Disintegration of Yugoslavia: An Analysis of Globalization Effects on Union and Disintegration of Yugoslavia” has also proven very popular, as has international studies alumna Toni Smith Shoola’s 48-page “The Effect of the Sub-Saharan Gender Divide on the Rights and Status of Women in a Globalized World.”

Bobinac was mentored by Chalupa, while Shoola worked with Dr. Neil Jesse, political science.

Many of the papers in the first volume are the products of capstone courses in history, international studies or Asian studies, which holds a competition for best paper accompanied by a monetary award. Another was by an Honors College student, Paige Driscoll, whose “The Hitchcock Touch: Visual Techniques in the Work of Alfred Hitchcock” examined the British director’s work in the United States. Her faculty mentor was Dr. Heath Diehl.

Not only does the journal have a global scope, one of the papers in the first volume was written by an international student, Puduo Wang, of China, who wrote on “The Conception of Ren in Daodejing,” mentored by Dr. Jonathan Miller, philosophy.

Grunden, formerly the co-director of the Asian Studies Program, had three students’ papers published in International ResearchScape. They were the products of the students’ capstone senior seminars, “one of my favorite classes,” he said. “I’m very proud of these papers and it’s been an honor and a privilege to work with these students.

“I wish we’d had this years ago because I’ve had some fantastic students who’ve done excellent work.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the students whose papers are included have continued to excel since graduation, from enrolling in leading graduate schools to finding meaningful work. Bobinec has a two-year fellowship at the University of Washington to study Eastern Europe. Clayton Oppenhuizen, whose paper was on “National Development and the Fight over Black Gold: U.S. Perspectives on the Argentine Oil Industry 1946-55,” is in graduate school at the University of Chicago. His mentor was Dr. Amilcar Challu, history. Shoola is employed by a nonprofit agency in Toledo. Another of Grunden’s students, David Adam Coldren, is a graduate student in the Asian Studies program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“Having this on your vita should help a lot in any graduate admissions process,” Grunden said, especially when the number of downloads shows the interest in and significance of the work. It’s a good start.”

Producing the journal takes the efforts of people across campus.

Chalupa and Drs. Lisa Hanasono, and Cheongmi Shim, both communication faculty, served as the editors for the most recent edition of journal. Drs. Nancy Brendlinger, journalism, and Amy Robinson, Romance and classical studies, are editing the second volume, scheduled to be out in December.

International ResearchScape is the first BGSU online journal hosted by the University Libraries.

“Two faculty librarians, Colleen Boff and Linda Rich, coordinated the technical side of this project with the publisher, Berkeley Electronic Press or Bepress,” Chalupa said. “It was fantastic to work with them because they really served as the ‘middle man’ between us and the press. Without their support, publishing the journal would not have taken place.”

Having papers published is a two-step process, in which faculty mentors play a key role. Students interested in submitting papers must have a letter of support from their mentor, who determines whether the paper is publishable or needs changes and works with the student on edits.

“The students must submit another draft and another round of studying sources,” Grunden said.

“This is showing a potential we didn’t even envision”Then the paper goes to the editorial board, which determines whether the paper falls within the scope and aim of the journal and looks at its structure, Chalupa explained. The editors might ask for clarifications or accommodation to a lay reader’s perspective.

“It’s a very demanding editorial process,” Chalupa said. “I was very grateful to the faculty for their commitment to work through the summer.”

The second volume will be published in December and will feature a new section, called From Praxis to Print, critical reflections of students studying abroad in conjunction with BGSU programs such as World Languages and Cultures and International Studies. It will include presentations by participants in the Embracing Global Engagement Undergraduate Conference held in September.

In the spring, the editorial board will contact faculty who teach 3000- and 4000-level courses with an international focus to get students in the pipeline for the 2015 edition, scheduled to come out next fall.

Meanwhile, three other Ohio universities have contacted BGSU to ask about being included in the journal, a move the advisory board is considering.

“This is showing a potential we didn’t even envision,” Chalupa said. “We take very seriously our assessment of the program. Not only do we want to showcase the output of our students, we want to help others.”