October 12, 2015

Penn GSE student-run journal mentors students and seeks variety of authors


High-quality academic content isn’t the only thing the editors of Penn GSE’s Perspectives on Urban Education are busy preparing this fall. They are also preparing the next generation of scholars to successfully publish research and review that of their peers. For 2015-2016 editors-in-chief Robert LeBlanc and Geeta Aneja, mentoring fellow graduate students is a significant aspect of their work with the student-run digital journal.

“Peer-reviewing manuscripts will likely be a huge part of students’ future professorial lives, but it often doesn’t get the kind of mentorship we can offer to our board members,” says LeBlanc, a Ph.D. student in Reading, Writing, and Literacy. While the journal is supported by a faculty supervisor, Senior Fellow Frances O’Connell Rust, director of Penn GSE’s Teacher Education Program, its editorial and review boards are composed entirely of students.

Members are trained to review and give constructive feedback on manuscripts and learn all of the stages of manuscript development, from submission to publication on the journal’s website at www.urbanedjournal.org. Penn GSE students make up the vast majority of board members, while a few GSE alumni and graduate students from other Penn schools also participate.

“It’s a great experience for doctoral students, especially as they begin seeking publication for their own articles,” says Aneja, a Ph.D. student in Educational Linguistics. “They have the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table and think about what an editor or reviewer might be looking for.”

For its two upcoming issues, the Perspectives editors have been looking for analyses of what happens both inside and outside of urban schools. LeBlanc and Aneja recently released an open call for submissions for the Spring 2016 issue on the theme of “Marginalized Spaces in Education,” with a deadline of December 15, 2105. The journal will examine the ways in which urban people and places can become perceived as peripheral to society and how this affects education. “Urban spaces, communities, and classrooms are often positioned as marginal—geographically, economically, and discursively,” says LeBlanc, who has spent several years with Perspectives in various roles. He also served as editorial assistant for Educational Researcher under its then-coeditor, Penn GSE professor Vivian L. Gadsden. “We’re looking for manuscripts that explore how marginalization happens and how communities can reassert their own legitimacy,” he says.

Later this year, the Fall 2015 issue on “Teacher Education as Possibility and the Legacy of Maxine Green” will consider new approaches in teacher training. “One of the topics we’re addressing is how teachers can learn to bring their students’ diverse backgrounds into the classroom, as well as their own, and use them as resources for learning,” says Aneja.

Pushing beyond the traditional boundaries of an academic publication, the journal aims to both publish and reach individuals across the field of education. “We receive and publish articles from scholars located across the country and beyond, and have successfully solicited manuscripts from a number of high-profile academics. We’re also committed to finding a wide range of educational stakeholders to contribute in a variety of formats,” says LeBlanc.

Alongside scholarly articles from leading academics including Michael Apple, Michelle Fine, and Alan Sadovnik, the journal publishes shorter pieces and multimedia content produced by and for teachers, school administrators, educational policymakers, and graduate students. All content is accessible for free on the journal’s website.

“A lot of academic publications are not accessible or useful for practitioners because there is a significant paywall, or the content is too esoteric or lengthy to meet their day-to-day needs,” says Aneja, who previously served as editor-in-chief of Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, another student-run journal at Penn GSE. “We’re pleased that our commentaries, teacher reflections, and multimedia pieces are accessible and applicable resources for teachers and educators,” she says.

To subscribe for free to Perspectives on Urban Education and receive email updates about the journal, visit http://www.urbanedjournal.org/subscribe.