What has YSJournal done for me?
Past authors and editors of the journal talk to us about what they gained from their experience of writing for or working on the journal.
Our team has grown from a handful to hundreds, working in many countries across the globe, some on their own, some in hubs at their schools.
So, what kind of things did you get involved with?
- Wrote a book review.
- Coordinated the editorial, technical and publicity teams
- gave presentations and information days on the journal.
- Peer-reviewed, formatted and edited articles sent in from students world-wide. Designed publicity features
- initiated and organised the YSJ photography competition
- edited the first print version of the journal.
What were the stand-out experiences for you of working on the journal?
Muna Oli (Editor 2008-11, USA, now studying for a Masters Degree in Public Health (specializing in Epidemiology) at University of Florida
“I was first approached by Dr. Butrous at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nevada, when I was 15. This jovial man came up to me and started talking to me about my project. He then proceeded to ask if I liked to write, and offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, to get involved with the Young Scientists Journal. Though I had not heard of it before, I quickly became familiar with it, and was amazed at the whole concept. I’d seen big peer reviewed journals, but never had I seen something for young scientists, that was at such a high caliber. I was impressed with the autonomy that Dr. Butrous and Ms. Astin gave the editors, who were all under the age of 18. This was truly a student run journal. I started my time at YSJ as an editor, editing research and review papers from students around the world. We had group meetings to discuss ideas, new ventures and how we could improve. At one point, Dr. Butrous asked if I wanted to be the special issue editor. I, of course, immediately jumped at this opportunity. I was in charge of finding authors, editing the papers, and organizing it. While this was a big responsibility in itself, what made this experience even more amazing was the fact that Dr. Butrous helped me get an interview with Dr. Andrew Maynard, an expert on nanotechnology. A few months later, Dr. Butrous, Dr. Maynard and myself met in Virginia to have an in person meeting to learn about nanotechnology, the benefits, the risk and the future. The issue was published, and it was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life. Although I am less directly involved now, I still do what I can to help out. I truly believe that YSJ is a valiant effort to involve the younger generations of scientists in sharing their work and the work of others. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity, as it has directly impacted my life for the better. And I hope that many others will have a similar opportunity. “
Mei Yin Wong (Editor 2012-13, Singapore, now studying medicine at Cambridge University):
“Being part of the YSJ editorial team has shown me a lot about the inner workings of a science journal. I love how young people like us can make a difference to the world of science despite our age and inexperience. Not only has the YSJ given us a platform to read, write and edit scientific articles, it has also served as a bridge across cultures as our readers, writers and editors span across many parts of the world. Participating in YSJ outreach programmes has also helped me to develop other skills such as public speaking and working on logistics and publicity for events.”
Mei Yin Wong
James Rand (Editor 2012-13, UK, now studying medicine at University College, London):
“When I first heard about Young Scientists Journal I knew it was something I really wanted to get involved in. The Journal encourages students with a common passion for science to work together, spreading our enthusiasm. It is really exciting to be surrounded by such interesting people and editing such wonderful projects.”
Sophie Brown (Chief Editor 2013-14, UK, now studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University)
“At the time, YSJ allowed me to explore Science outside my studies and I came across many interesting topics which I had not been aware existed. This inspired me to select my course and gave me the motivation to academically perform. I met others around the world from different backgrounds with an interest in Science: not only at conferences did I see the value of networking but I realised it was possible for students our age to conduct their own research. This encouraged me to gain research experience early on which has been incredibly useful for me. I am sure having YSJ on my CV has benefited it greatly, even now. I can relate the skills I learnt while running it to a wide range of situations. I missed the job so much, I went on to run the University Biology society to which I could contribute a lot for less personal time and effort than if I hadn’t had the YSJ experience. Finally, as I intend to go on in science research, it has given me a unique perspective on communication from author and editor viewpoints. I am strong at critical article analysis and presenting my own work – qualities very much founded in my YSJ experience. As a quiet, shy 16-year old, unsure about what to study in the future, on YSJ I realised skills and interests that I otherwise might have assumed I never had.”
“To me the YSJ is a professional platform, where young scientists around the globe can try and learn from the life as a full time scientist.”
“Gave me insight into the workings of a journal. My first taste of ‘real research’ that helped foster my passion for science.”
So, what does working on the Journal bring to the resumé and life experiences of a team member?
- Learning fast from previous editors (“standing on giants’ shoulders’!)
- Individual responsibility, being thrown in at the deep end
- Being part of an international team
- Liaising with authors across the world
- Being resourceful, showing initiative in solving problems
- Dealing with time zones, cultural contrasts
- Learning new skills about editing, referencing, web design, marketing
- Reading lots about science
- Working to real deadlines, scheduling, prioritizing
- Collaborating with professional organisations
100% have ended up working in STEM!
Of those we polled, every single one was working in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths. Here are some examples:
“I’m studying microbiology & immunology and researching & launching a startup”
“I’m in my final year of studying Biochemistry as part of the Natural Sciences course at Cambridge. Applying for PhD positions”
“Product Development Consultant”
“Studying physics at uni”
“Final year PhD student at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute”
A final word
Clearly, working as an editor on the Journal has brought huge benefits to hundreds of school students and possibly inspired many hundreds more to embark on a science research project. And for the early researchers whose writing has been published, the Journal has provided a unique springboard to their careers in science. What an advantage to enter a university degree course as a published author, joining the ranks of other published scientists, your work being read and cited by others all over the world!
We young scientists are the Nobel laureates and science authors of the future. In this democratic information-producing age it is even more important than ever that we can develop the skills needed to communicate to others about science as well as carrying out practical science research ourselves. Young Scientists Journal exists to encourage and support that science research and writing and to give them a chance to have their endeavours published, thus inspiring others. It also offers its editors a chance to join an international community of like-minded young ambitious scientists.
The first ever science journal, Philosophical Transactions, is subtitled: “Giving some account of the present undertakings, studies and labours of the ingenious in many considerable parts of the world.” We believe that the same could be said in 2017 of Young Scientists Journal.
Sophie Brown (centre) with previous Chief Editor Fiona Jenkinson and Professor Sir Harry Kroto at the 1st YSJ conference in March 2014.
James Rand and Fiona Jenkinson tell the Duke of York about the Journal at Big Bang Fair, 2013
Students from different schools come together for a workshop at a YSJ conference
Current Chief Editor Michael leads one of the hubs in a branding exercise
Editor and Outreach Team member Sambavi speaks at a Young Scientists conference in Chennai, India, December 2016