GVSU Journal of History gains national exposure

Duane Emery

If you are ready to become an editor of an established academic journal, then HST 410: History Journal is all for you. This class at Grand Valley State University puts students in charge of running the Grand Valley Journal of History.

“It’s a really nontraditional format,” said Marcee Wardell, the current editor-in-chief of the journal.

Wardell, who is majoring in writing, said the skills she gained from the class were invaluable to her. Scrutinizing the work of others, she said, has helped her to find faults in her own writing.

“In the class, you learn how to analyze critically other people’s work. You can see what works and what doesn’t and learn from that,” she said.

The class teaches more than lessons on editing, though. Wardell said her time as editor taught her leadership, organization and publication skills. She added that the hands-on approach to the class would be beneficial to students in all disciplines.

“After a few weeks, it was completely student-run,” Wardell said. “For students going into an academic field, this is a start for that.”

GVSU history professors Jeremiah Cataldo and William Morison created the course to offer the experience of running a professional journal in a classroom setting. Editors have to solicit papers from students, process peer reviews and make decisions on what papers to accept for publication.

“It runs like an actual research journal. The students created the infrastructure to make it run,” Morison said.

Although the journal is run by the class, it doesn’t only publish the work of those students. Anyone who is interested in being published can submit a research paper as long as it is historically oriented. The journal is very particular as it only publishes two papers in the fall semester, but the benefits of submission are worth the effort.

“It can give students much deeper feedback than they’re likely getting in their classes. They can improve their work to a much higher level,” Morison said. “That can be beneficial if they are going into a graduate program because a higher level of scrutiny provides higher caliber work for a writing sample.”

The journal has already been useful for promoting undergraduate research. Its articles have been viewed more than 10,000 times, but Morison said he would like to see it expand.

“There’s a pretty broad range of topics, but non-western topics haven’t been covered as much,” he said.

Morison and Wardell hope the journal continues to gain exposure to bring in even more submissions on a national scale.

“We’ve gotten submissions from Purdue, Ball State, colleges I’ve never even heard of,” Wardell said.

Both professors also think the format of the class could expand outside the scope of history, and Wardell agreed.

“It could be adopted by other disciplines as a way of showing the best work our students are doing,” she said.

HST 410 is offered in the fall semester and the Journal of History is published online. If students would like to read it or submit a research paper for publication, the journal can be found at scholarworks.gvsu.edu/gvjh.

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