Benefits and challenges of student journals

Participating in the running of a student journal can be a rewarding process, allowing you to contribute to the scholarly conversation in your field and showcase student work. However, student journals rely on the volunteer labour of editors and peer reviewers; to attract and retain volunteers, it’s important to be clear about the time requirements, benefits, and potential challenges of participating in your journal. A good first step is to consider the value that the journal will personally bring to authors, editors, reviewers, readers, and other stakeholders. By thinking about these issues early on, you will be able to define goals and policies that will support the journal’s long term success. 

Benefits of contributing to a student journal

  • Sharing your work with a global audience

  • Enhancing your resume or CV

  • Contributing to your field of study

  • Honing your analytical skills

  • Improving the quality of your writing

  • Gaining experience with scholarly communication and academic publishing

  • Leaning to review your peers’ work

  • Learning to revise your work in response to constructive feedback

  • Enhancing your knowledge of the literature in your field

  • Preparing for graduate school

  • Working collaboratively with faculty

  • Gaining transferable skills (e.g., project management, communication skills) 

  • Enhancing the reputation of your university or academic department

Challenges of contributing to a student journal

  • Publishing a journal is a major time investment

  • Balancing work on the journal with other commitments can be challenging for editors, authors, and peer reviewers

  • The workload in any given week can be unpredictable

  • Many journals receive the bulk of their submissions at the end of the term, when students are busy with exams and final papers

  • Journals experience regular turnover as students graduate

  • Editors and peer reviewers must be recruited and trained every year

  • Undergraduate students don’t have experience with the peer review process

  • Developing peer review skills takes time and practice. It is beneficial to have guidance from experienced reviewers, but the high turnover rate may make this challenging.

  • Requires excellent communication and time management skills to stay on track

  • Most student journals operate with limited or no funding

Ready to get started with your student journal? Follow these Steps for setting up your journal.