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University of Louisville student group launches peer-reviewed undergrad research journal


By Baylee Pulliam
University of Louisville

A University of Louisville student group is launching a peer-reviewed journal to highlight undergraduate research and scholarship across all disciplines, from astrophysics to art history.

The journal, The Cardinal Edge, will publish its first annual issue in the spring of 2021. Jahnavi Sunkara, a joint chief editor, said the goal is to help UofL undergraduates share their work.

“The point of research is to communicate it,” said Sunkara, a junior biology major and Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School (GEMS) student. “We wanted to create an opportunity for undergraduate students at UofL to do that, because they’re doing some really amazing research in lots of different fields.”

The Cardinal Edge editorial team worked with UofL Libraries to develop an open-access portal on ThinkIR, the university’s institutional research database, where students can submit their work and read the journal. The first issue will be completely digital — and free — but the team plans to print physical copies of future issues.

Chief editors of The Cardinal Edge at the University of Louisville (left to right): Sam Kessler, Jahnavi Sunkara, Betty Ngo and Priya Chandrashekhar. (UofL photo)

Students can submit their full-length manuscripts, abstracts and brief reports through December for the spring issue. The journal also will focus on the research culture at UofL with spotlight articles on student researchers and current topics in research, such as diversity and COVID-19’s impact.

Currently, only UofL students can submit articles to the journal, but there is a possibility that the team may accept work from other universities in the future. Submitted papers will be evaluated by faculty and students through a single-blind peer review, in which the identities of reviewers are kept hidden.

“It was important to us to have students involved in every single aspect of the process,” said Betty Ngo, a sophomore psychology major, Grawemeyer Scholar and joint chief editor. “It’s a research journal by students, for students. Students are our authors, reviewers, staffers and readers.”

Priyadarshini Chandrashekhar, a junior biology major, Vogt Scholar and a joint chief editor, said the goal is to provide opportunities for undergraduate students to share ideas and gain experience, whether conducting research, publishing their findings or working on an editorial board.

“They’re all students,” Chandrashekhar said. “And they can participate in everything — design, review, outreach. It’s a great experience.”

For Ngo’s part, working for and publishing in The Cardinal Edge could show graduate school admissions reviewers that she has research experience and is familiar with the publication process. Chandrashekhar and Sunkara have their eyes on medical school.

“This will help me later in my career,” Sunkara said. “It’s such a unique experience and I really feel we’re building something special here that can contribute to the long-term growth of UofL’s research culture.”

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