Comments

This presentation was given at the 2014 Library Assessment Conference: Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment, August 4-6, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Abstract

Like an increasing number of academic libraries, Purdue University Libraries provides publishing support services to the Purdue community. In 2009, Purdue University Press had recently been moved into the Libraries, and there was enthusiasm about exploring new relationships which could combine the publishing skills of the Press with use of Purdue e-Pubs, the institutional repository platform that also featured powerful publishing features. Publishing an undergraduate research journal was particularly appealing because it connected the scholarly communication program of the Libraries with strategic goals around information literacy. There is evidence that undergraduate students benefit from engaging in research experiences, and writing and publishing study results is an integral part of the research process. The undergraduate research journal is a relatively new means for this scholarship dissemination. The Provost agreed to fund the journal, and the first annual volume of the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research (JPUR) (http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jpur/) was published in August 2011. One hundred forty-two students have authored or co-authored articles or research snapshots for JPUR. An additional twenty-nine students were members of the Student Editorial Board and mentored student authors.

The Provost emphasized the need for the journal to include a strong assessment plan which would assess the degree to which the publication of the journal contributed to the success of Purdue students. The W. Wayne Booker Chair for Information Literacy was a member of the JPUR Advisory Board and developed the assessment plan. The Journal’s Faculty Advisory Board identified and implemented ways for the students who wanted to participate to be successful. These included: faculty mentors for students who submitted abstract proposals; peer mentors from the journal’s Student Editorial Board; a web site populated with customized learning resources and “Tips for Authors”; and workshops on preparing submissions.

This paper reports on a 3-year assessment of the stated goals of the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research. The primary purpose of the journal was to benefit students through gains in learning. It was also to benefit faculty and administrators by providing a tool for undergraduate recruiting, outreach, and fundraising. Students and faculty were the stakeholder groups that participated in the multi-faceted evaluation plan. The findings indicated that students did experience gains in learning as a result of writing an article, writing a research snapshot, or mentoring a student author. Because of their involvement with JPUR, student authors intended to publish articles in the future. JPUR influenced career decisions. Faculty were motivated to continue to act as mentors for undergraduate research. The journal is reaching a large and global audience. It is competitive with an overall acceptance rate of 52%.

The paper concludes with recommendations for other institutions that are considering the establishment of an undergraduate research journal or that want to assess the student learning associated with one already established.

Keywords

assessment, undergraduate research, journals, collaboration, libraries, university press

Date of this Version

8-5-2014