On an Inpulse: SFN Neuroblogging

Today’s post is partially (or more than partially) for Bora, our great Blogfather, and patron saint of Open Access.🙂
After seeing all the posters that Sci usually has to see according to her itinerary, Sci likes to wander and take in the little things that catch her eye. And when she does this, she usually heads over to Section H, the session catch-all that focuses on the history of neuroscience, science outreach, and basically anything that doesn’t fit well into basic science research. She usually manages to see a lot of things that grab her attention, and this year was no exception. But Sci was particularly grabbed by one poster, and by the enthusiastic people standing in front of it.
Jones, et al. “Impulse: an undergraduate journal for neuroscience”


Many undergraduates do research, usually as a way to get credit toward graduate or medical school. Often, unfortunately, that research ends up unpublished, on a poster and CV, but never making it out to the real world. If an undergraduate DOES publish, it is very rarely as a first author, and usually it is buried in the middle authors of a paper. But what if you COULD publish your undergrad research???
That’s what the journal IMPULSE is about. It a peer reviewed journal by undergraduate neuroscientists, and for undergraduate neuroscientists, intending to help shepherd them the firs time through the publication process. It’s a peer reviewed journal where undergraduates can submit papers, and other undergrads will review them, making it truly peer reviewed, and the result in an Open Access paper of the undergraduates’ current work.
This sounds like a good idea, and Sci definitely thinks it’d be a great thing for introducing unsuspecting young undergrads to the ins and outs of scientific publication. It’s a very new idea, though, and has its issues. In particular, no paper submitted is rejected, though changes are often requested, and peer review by other undergraduates will not be as rigorous as professionals in the field will be. So the journal may make for a publication, but it may not make for scientific rigor or ingenuity.
Still, Sci is not going to argue with the idea. Undergrads can always use the extra edge of publication to get them into a graduate or medical program, and an undergraduate program could help students at liberal arts colleges, who may doing research at smaller institutions and may not have the ability to get nth author on a big lab’s pub. Though it has its limitations, there may be a place for Impulse, though time will tell if that place will be a good thing for undergraduate researchers.

3 Responses

  1. It’s a very new idea, though, and has its issues. In particular, no paper submitted is rejected, though changes are often requested, and peer review by other undergraduates will not be as rigorous as professionals in the field will be. So the journal may make for a publication, but it may not make for scientific rigor or ingenuity.

    And I am sure that these publications will be viewed as just that, although it could be a good opportunity for research minded folks to sharpen their chops before diving into the grown up world.
    The problem I see with this is that most journals require that data submitted not have been previously published. I wonder if this will prevent the publication of some formal manuscripts?

  2. The American Journal for Undergraduate Research http://www.ajur.uni.edu/ is starting its eighth year of publication. One of the problems we find is that if undergraduate work can be published as part of a larger study in a journal more likely to affect funding applications or tenure and promotion, it usually is. However, the advantage of publishing in undergraduate journals is that the undergraduate gets the writing experience along with the research experience

  3. Isis: You cannot double-submit the data, which is good. though it’s also bad, as that means that anything that can be published as part of a large paper in a more influential journal, will be. But I’m not going to write it off yet, it might be a good use for research at SLACs, where, as in Sci’s case, she was the only student in the lab, and her’s the only study.

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