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JMURJ: Publishing History

An undergraduate research journal at James Madison University is not a novel concept.

The James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal (2013present) builds on the work of 20072009 JMURJ student editors. In the mid-1990s, the Madison Journal of Undergraduate Research published four volumes of undergraduate research. And back when JMU was the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg (191424), the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg (192438), and Madison College (starting in 1938), an in-house publication titled The Virginia Teacher regularly published undergraduate reviews and articles.

Below, we highlight recent JMURJ efforts before offering snapshots from JMU's history of publishing undergraduate research and scholarship. You can help us fill in some of the many gaps: let us know about JMU's past, recent, or ongoing efforts to promote and publish undergraduate research and scholarship.

JMURJ V.3 Cover

2015–2016

  • Volume 3 of JMURJ features six articles, including work by undergraduates majoring in Communication Studies, Psychology, Political Science, and Biology
  • JMURJ enlists its 100th faculty reviewer. Through three volumes, JMURJ has collaborated with faculty reviewers from all seven JMU colleges in more than 30 disciplines
  • JMURJ hits 9,000 downloads on its JMU Scholarly Commons publishing platform. Readers come from across the United States and around the world
  • JMURJ revisits its submission guidelines, working to expand and share its commitment to publishing text-based and media-based research and scholarship by undergraduates in all JMU disciplines
  • JMURJ Editorial Board members again particpate in the JMU Honors Symposium, presenting "JMURJ: Publishing, Promoting, and Sharing Undergraduate Scholarship"
  • Congratulations to Cassey Jennings, winner of the first JMURJ Cover Photo contest

2014–2015

JMURJ Scholarly Commons Map

2013–2014

2013-2014 JMURJ Cover

In Spring 2013, a new JMURJ Editorial Board convenes under the auspices of the JMU Honors Program. The team invests a full year in the work of evaluating other universities' undergraduate research journals; defining JMURJ’s mission, scope, and review process; and beginning to build a corps of reviewers, sponsors, advocates, contacts, and volunteers across JMU. They build on the 20072009 JMURJ effort, working from two basic questions:

  • How can we create a sustainable JMU undergraduate research journal? 
  • How can we be inclusive? How can we promote, publish, and share the different kinds of research and scholarship that JMU undergraduates do in all of their diverse academic fields of study?

Three semesters in, the Spring 2014 JMURJ Editorial Board has good news to share:

2008 JMURJ Cover

2007–2009

JMU undergraduate Physics majors Casey Boutwell and Laurence Lewis founded the James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal in 2007, envisioning a JMU undergraduate journal that could foster "a community of ambitious, open-minded student-researchers" by encouraging the multidisciplinary collaboration, peer review, and publication opportunities that are at the heart of professional academia.

They visited classes, talked to professors, enlisted Dr. Kurt Schick, then the Director of the University Writing Center, as a faculty adviser, and spent the next year defining the journal and establishing a campus presence.

The blueprint Boutwell and Lewis developed for JMURJ was "simple and easily reproducible":

We developed a preliminary model of how we imagined an undergraduate research journal would operate. We determined which features were important to us (like multiple disciplines, student administration, and peer review), and what characteristics we wanted to avoid (too much university oversight and overly constraining our definition of research).

In Spring 2009, a team of editors led by Sierra Stanczyk and Alex Sharp VIII published the first issue of JMURJ.

MJUR Volume 1 cover

1994–1997

JMU's College of Letters and Sciences published four volumes of the Madison Journal of Undergraduate Research between 1994 and 1997. Student editors participating in two 300-level English classes published "research manuscripts written by JMU undergraduates from all disciplines within the university" with a goal of promoting "the importance of researching and writing throughout academia and the professions."

Print volumes of MJUR are available in the JMU Libraries Special Collections Reading Room. We offer the first pages of Volume 1 and the preface from Volume 2 here.

1920–1939  

The Virginia Teacher, also available in the JMU Libraries Special Collections Reading Room, was one of JMU’s regular early publications (along with The Breeze and The Normal Bulletin). While early volumes featured articles by faculty members from the State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg (1914–1924) and the State Teachers College at Harrisonburg (1924–1938), as well as by local school teachers, the journal increasingly included scholarship by professors at other state and regional colleges. 

The Virginia Teacher Volume 1 Issue 1 Table of contents

The Virginia Teacher also regularly published student articles throughout its twenty-year run. Nell M. Critzer's review titled “Feature Articles of Interest to Educators in this Month’s Magazines” appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 (1920). Critzer—author of several Virginia Teacher pieces—mentions a fellow by the name of Albert Einstein, who was apparently doing some good work. Her piece in Issue 1 of The Virginia Teacher appears just before an "Educational Comment" from Samuel Page Duke (still in the first of his thirty years as the school's second president).   

Clare Harnsberger, "awarded the Dingledine Prize for the best essay submitted by this year’s graduating class," was also published in The Viriginia Teacher in 1920. Harnsberger was the second of many Dingledine scholarship recipients, as Raymond Carlyle Dingledine, Sr., and Agness Dingledine began awarding a $10 prize for the best senior essay in 1919. Harnsberger's essay, titled “Sonnet Forms,” appeared in Volume 1, Issue 6 of The Virginia Teacher.