DePaul’s commitment to provide students opportunities to learn outside the classroom is evident in a publication from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LA&S), Creating Knowledge, now in its third year.
“We started Creating Knowledge to encourage students to engage in scholarly research, and then to give them a credible, professional way to show off their work,” says Ralph Erber, associate dean.
For students, being published in the peer-reviewed journal — besides being a valuable experience in and of itself — can be a leg up in the highly competitive world after graduation. Chelsea Carey (B.S. Environmental Science and Biology, ’08) — now a graduate student at the University of California Merced working toward a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology — shares her perspective about the publication of her article, “The Impact of Corn (Zea mays) on Restoration Efforts in Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Invaded Soils” in 2008:
“Publishing was definitely worth the work. For one thing, it was good to learn how the process works — the submission of the paper, its review by the editors, the need to revise based on feedback. Then, having a publication on your CV as an undergraduate definitely puts you ahead of others in taking the next step.” Carey was also asked to present her research to the board of directors of LA&S.
The journal is open to any student in LA&S. In each issue, articles cover topics in history, architecture, sociology, biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and psychology; student art and photography grace the inside pages and covers.
Generally, a student’s work will be recommended by a faculty member; the article is evaluated by an editorial board of faculty and students. “If the paper is accepted, we work with the student to get it in shape,” says Erber. “This is a very serious effort.”
Since publishing her research, “Direct and Indirect Effects of Allelopathic Compounds Produced by the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)” in 2009, Amy Sparrow (B.S. Environmental Science, ’09) has found it to be a point of interest with prospective employers: “During an interview for an internship I was asked about my writing — this was a science-related job, but the writing mattered. I mentioned I had published in the DePaul undergraduate journal, and that made an impression. In my field, you have to be able to do science and write about science.” Sparrow is a graduate student at Indiana University in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
James Sbarboro (B.S. biology, ’09), a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University, agrees: “Creating Knowledge provided me with an invaluable experience of the publication process, as well as a culminating sense of accomplishment after three years of research at DePaul. My faculty advisor guided me through the entire process, and the skills I gained are serving me well in my current employment.” His paper, “Light-Induced Repression of Direction Change in Moving Diatoms,” was published in 2009.
Erber is a booster of the journal because his own experiences as an undergrad:
“When I was a junior in college, a professor to whom I had been assigned as a work-study student asked if I could run a psychology experiment for him. Although I was quite intimidated by the request I said that I could, primarily to get out of doing clerical work for which I had shown no aptitude whatsoever. This was my first encounter with research, and it was a life-changing experience. Now, I like helping students push a little beyond what they think they can do — and then seeing them gain the confidence that comes from seeing their work in print.”
To illustrate the depth and breadth of Creating Knowledge, here are some sample articles from the 2008 and 2009 issues:
- “The Multiethnic Qing Dynasty of China” by Riscarte Bayon
- “The Female Essence in Buddhist Art” by Alecia Koharcheck
- “The Ethics of Weapons of Mass Destruction” by Chris Tompke
- “The Relevance of Global Warming in Latin America” by Don Gladish
- “Observations of Linear Polarization of Water Masers in Star-forming Regions” by Amanda Stenson
- “A Commitment to Inaction: U.S. Rhetoric and Darfur” by Andrew Buchwach
- “The Media, Bare Life, and the Other” by Iram Ibrahim
- “Daniel H. Burnham in the Philippines: The Architect of Choice for American Politicians” by Catherine Ferrari
- “The Influence of Need for Cognition on the Asymmetric Dominance Effect” by Molly McDonald
- “Listening to Consonant and Dissonant Harmony through Music” by Daniel Edelstein