Lacking Traditional Publishing Options, Graduate Students Take DIY Approach and Win National Award

The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, a student-run journal hosted on Iowa State University’s Digital Repository that launched two years ago, was recently recognized by the Commission for Social Justice Educators, which awarded the seven student founders awards for Exemplary Social Justice Contribution by a Graduate Student.

Co-founder Cameron Beatty told Iowa State writer Lynn Campbell in an article about the award, “We were doing social justice work and some of the journals we wanted to get published in weren’t necessarily interested in the work that we were doing. So we were like, ‘What does this mean for us as graduate students? We need to get a job; we need to get published. Where is there a space for us that want to do critical social justice work? Why don’t we create our own?’ It gives us credibility,” he added. “It gives us a voice within the conversation.”

Faced with an unappealing array of commercial and closed-access publishing choices, an increasing number of students and faculty are taking a similar DIY approach and opting to start their own high-impact, low-overhead online journals, especially in emerging and underserved fields. Being on a highly visible, open access platform like Digital Commons has enabled these publications to build a strong community of readers, contributors, and editors. Additionally, the sustainable publishing platform made possible by the IR allows these journals to live on even after their founders or current editorial boards have left.

“We all felt like it was our baby. Now we have people who believe in it and we can pass it to them,” Beatty told Campbell. “I feel more comfortable and confident in graduating, knowing that this is probably going to last beyond me.”

Want to learn more about student journals? This webinar by Stephanie Davis-Kahl and Michael Seeborg describes the development of a student economics journal at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Iowa State's student-run Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis

Iowa State’s student-run Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis