The NMU Honors Program is managing a new peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal open to all undergraduate students. “Conspectus Borealis”—Latin for “A Northern Perspective”—will be available online as part of The Commons, NMU’s institutional repository. Submissions can include scholarly works such as research articles, lab reports and technical papers, along with creative writing, visual art and foreign language pieces. A launch party for the inaugural issue will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in Olson Library. Refreshments will be provided.
“We encourage anyone with an interest in this project to share in this remarkable new part of NMU’s academic landscape,” said David Wood, director of the Honors Program. “Undergraduates across campus deserve the opportunity to submit their work for publication to a well-run academic journal. Doing so, and seeing a project through to publication, can serve as a crucial aspect of their own professionalization when it comes time for them to consider applying to graduate schools or to the working world. Our Honors student editors also are gaining valuable experience as they analyze the raw manuscripts of their peers’ work and shepherd these documents through the editing process into polished articles.”
Professor Michael Joy, assistant director of the Honors Program, serves as the faculty liaison for the journal. Kevin McDonough (AIS/Library) manages The Commons and was recruited to assist with the project. A dozen Honors Program students serve on the editorial board. They are led by Tiffany Stachnik, editor in chief, and Samantha Carter, assistant editor.
A blind submission process ensures that the students have no idea whose work they are evaluating. There were 18 submissions for the first run and 10 were accepted for publication. Stachnik said they address diverse topics including foreign policy, mathematics, physics, philosophy, Shakespeare and music theory. There also was a fine arts submission from a painting major.
“We figured there would be greater representation from the liberal arts than the hard sciences, but we’re really pleased with the mix,” said Stachnik, a German studies major from Midland. “We wanted to set a precedent with the first round of valuing exemplary works and publishing what NMU students are doing incredibly well. It is a fantastic staff and we wanted discussion-based decisions on which papers to publish because input matters and leads to the best results. There were some challenges with the first run—designing a website, writing policies and things like that—but overall, everything went relatively smoothly.”
Stachnik said she agreed to serve as editor in chief because she viewed it as a unique opportunity, particularly for a sophomore.
“At larger universities, opportunities like these don’t pop up as nicely as they do at Northern. If I’m going to pursue a master’s or get into academia, I need to know how these things work. Also, Northern didn’t have a journal like this, so I can help start something that will have a lasting impact on the university I attend, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I came here.”
Wood said conversations with various academic departments and administrators over the years, combined with input from Honors Program students, made it clear that an undergraduate journal was overdue.
“We started pursuing it in earnest last September,” he said. “The most common response I have received from students, faculty and administrators related to the project is, ‘It’s about time!’”
The Honors Program, AIS Dean Leslie Warren and Amy Hubinger of the NMU Foundation will host the April 21 launch party.