In today’s world of social media, instant news cycles, and questionable content everywhere, academic journals remain a source where a reader can trust the information.
Now, a group of UConn sociology undergraduate students are experiencing the creation of an academic journal firsthand, with the publication of The Mirror, which made its debut last week.
“The idea of an academic journal is prefaced by the fact that it is peer reviewed,” says Phoebe Godfrey, an associate professor in residence in UConn’s sociology department, who serves as an advisor to the students in the development of The Mirror. “A writer submits an article to a journal and it is not automatically published. It is reviewed by the editors, who are equal experts in a particular field or area as the writer is. Arguments, methodology, and theory are all evaluated before the article is accepted. The student editors work with me, as well as the authors, to achieve a high level of undergraduate scholarship.”
The concept of The Mirror came through the Undergraduate Programming Committee in the Department of Sociology as it searched for authentic academic experiences for its students. The Sociology Student Club became the hub where the editors were selected.
“When they came to us with the idea of a journal, we loved the idea and developed it into our own,” says Cameron Klemme ’22 (CLAS), vice president of the club and a junior double majoring in psychology and law/justice in society. “It’s an undergraduate journal, written by undergrads, edited by undergraduates, and even the artwork is by an undergraduate. We like the idea of creating opportunity for our peers.”
The first edition of The Mirror has six articles selected from approximately 30 submissions, and the plan is to publish a new version each semester.
UConn undergraduate students who are interested in being included in future editions of The Mirror should submit articles to email@example.com. Editors will respond as to whether or not an article was provisionally accepting their work for the next issue.
The title of the journal was selected by both the proximity of the Department of Sociology to Mirror Lake at UConn Storrs and what the students hope the journal will become.
“Our journal is a reflection of how students feel and view the world through a sociological lens,” says Meaghan Connors, a senior sociology and political science major who is another student editor. “In all our articles, we are trying to incorporate how individuals interact with the world around them and how they reflect upon themselves – how you look at yourself in the mirror.”
Most of the articles in the journal include research, but there is also a personal aspect in each as well, as the authors acknowledge their place in the world.
UConn has many research programs for undergraduates with a particular emphasis on areas like the sciences, which help prepare students for graduate studies.
“It seemed to make sense to do a piece of work like this for our students,” says Godfrey. “Many of them will go to graduate school and this type of experience makes them take their work very seriously, more so than when your paper is just for your professor to review and grade.”
Godfrey points out that The Mirror is an open-ended journal, not a blind one, which means the editors know the identity of the writers. She said that allows the editor to build a relationship with the writers, which makes it a positive experience as they all are learning about academic journals.
“We hope for this to be something that reaches all students and give them different perspectives as they go through their daily lives,” says student editor Jasmine Tran, a junior sociology major with a business minor from Newington. “Empirical evidence is what sets a journal apart. I was reading the articles that were submitted to us and learned things and got good perspective. It is so enriching to me and I can only imagine how our readers will feel. I think sociology is so applicable and valuable just going through life.”
Sophomore Niko Xenophontos, of Andover, was originally a math major and added sociology as a double after taking a class in the field.
“I got involved in the journal even before I was a sociology major, which shows how open it is,” says Xenophontos. “The experiential learning was the biggest aspect for me, it is very different from when you are in the classroom. Something like editing was a whole new experience for me.
“All of these papers in the journal are very interesting and they all have something to add to the discussion. I think there is a difference between reading a journal and editing one. You talk to those people who came up with the idea and see them first-hand. It not only teaches you those ideas, it shows you how to reach people.”