How to get your undergrad research published

22 December 2016

If you're an undergraduate student who would like to experience what it's like to have an essay submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, in an opportunity that is normally only available to postgraduate students, read on.

The latest volume of the ANU Undergraduate Research Journal has been published and is available free and online through ANU Press.

It shows the top essays of undergraduate students from across the University, featuring pieces looking at the legality of Australia's plain packaging legislation through to the future of personal injury compensation.

The journal is published at the end of every year.

The latest edition, volume seven, includes prize-winning work by undergraduate students whose work featured in forums including the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research.

"The journal is one way that we can really recognise the amazing efforts by undergraduate students and showcase not just their ability to do research but their passion, commitment and enthusiasm for it," said Dr Dierdre Pearce from ANU Student Experience and Career Development.

"To take your work from a really good piece of writing, which has been assessed and your lecturer feels it's a high-quality piece of work, to that next level requires a lot of enthusiasm and commitment to making that happen."

Established in 2008, the ANU Undergraduate Research Journal is peer-reviewed and managed by a team of students.

Daniel McKay, who graduated in December 2016 with Bachelor of Arts (Honours) / Bachelor of Laws (Honours), was the editor of volume seven. He and a team of Tuckwell scholars and PhB students helped compile the journal.

"Being the editor meant I had a bird's eye view of the best undergraduate research of all these disciplines. I never really knew what science students did so I got a bit of an insight into what it is they are doing across campus," Daniel said.

"And there's not a lot of opportunities to come together with people who don't go with you to your own lectures."

He said the secret to being chosen for publication in the journal is to pick a topic that people don't usually look at, or to work on an original take on a question.

"There were a few that were done on internships - so looking at organisations and the questions they have. So there's a real passion there. It's not just a run of the mill essay. It's something that people have spent a lot of time working on and that comes through in the vividness of the topics.

One of the first to have their work published in the Undergraduate Research Journal is Aditya Chopra, who completed his PhD with the ANU Planetary Science Institute in 2015. Aditya is a science communicator who continues to have close ties with the University and has recently taken on an administrative role at UniLodge.

"That's the valuable part of the process. It's not just about the writing, it's the experience of having to go back with the copy editor and those sorts of things," Daniel said.

"So don't just approach your research like it's another piece of work. Treat it like it's its own original project and the more effort you put into it, the more it makes it unique and publishable."

To be in the running to have your essay published in the ANU Undergraduate Research journal, you'll need to submit your essay to the ANU Undergraduate Research Conference, the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research or the international Undergraduate Awards.