UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For students struggling with writing manuscripts for refereed journals, or even those who just want to hone their research-writing skills, help has arrived in the form of more than 50 online learning modules, collectively called PubHub and made available last spring by the Penn State Council on Engaged Scholarship.
“As part of the Council on Engaged Scholarship, we were looking at ways to expand opportunities for undergrads to engage in research experiences,” said Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program and assistant professor of engineering design. “One of our observations while talking to faculty members and students was that while a sizeable number of students were engaged in research, only a fraction of those experiences led to publications. Publishing one’s work in a refereed journal is the pinnacle of participation in the professional academic culture. It provides students with a window into a professional career as a researcher and enhances their competitiveness in graduate school applications and the job market.”
To help students advance their research writing and publishing abilities, Mehta and more than 30 additional Penn State faculty and staff members designed PubHub, a collection of four sets of learning modules in the form of downloadable PDFs that relate to navigating the publication process, preparing strong manuscripts for refereed journals, developing research-writing skills, and making the most of professional conferences. WPSU created a video describing the modules available through PubHub. The modules are available to all students, regardless of their major or area of study.
“We were careful to include examples from different disciplines — from engineering and natural sciences to the humanities and social sciences,” said Mehta, who noted that stronger writing skills and conference participation are helpful to all students.
PubHub also includes video clips of staff members from across the University explaining the services they provide to students. In addition, modules are available to help students brand their research, write competitive fellowship or grant applications, and write research proposals.
The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and the Council on Engaged Scholarship, which has evolved into the Student Engagement Network, sponsored the creation of PubHub. The network’s goal is to encourage undergraduate students to engage in experiences that complement in-class learning.
“Research, publishing and presenting are important aspects of student engagement,” said Mehta. “Through these activities, students develop skills such as communication, persistence, creativity, judgment and organization. They also gain greater autonomy and self-efficacy.”
In turn, he added, having undergraduate students participate in research and publishing helps faculty members increase their research productivity and ultimately enhances the visibility of the University as the volume of high-quality publications grow.
“There is an ethical imperative to publish and make knowledge public, especially when the research is supported by taxpayer dollars,” said Mehta. “And students are best served by Penn State if they understand the ins and outs of this process. That’s why we created PubHub.”