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How to use an LMS to simulate the publishing process with undergrads

There is an old saying in academia that most scholars and scientists love to hate:

Publish or perish.

As a quick side note, the saying should be “publish in English or perish”, but we will tackle multilingualism in the academic world on a different occasion.

While in some contexts the constant pressure to publish may have its disadvantages – the first that comes to mind being that it favors quantity over quality – it is not hard to understand why publishing is so important in the academic world.

Publishing your results is essential for the advancement of science. As a researcher, you read what others have done in your field and then you try to identify how you might contribute with a novel approach, a clever solution, or a different idea. If you don’t publish the findings of your research, the scientific community cannot know about your contribution. Imagine Dmitri Mendeleev would have never made his idea public; chemistry would have faced an enormous set-back.

Secondly, great scientific results bring in money. It’s a cruel truth, but you need money to do science. Funding is essentially given based on competition and you must show some results to let people know that you can deliver results in the future as well and that the research grant is money well spent.

Given the competition in the academic world, attracting talented students and encouraging them to do research is essential for any university or research institute.

How to use an LMS to simulate the publishing process with undergrads

However, students might feel reluctant to publish their results, as they might feel intimidated by the achievements of more experienced scholars and unfortunately some will not consider a research career altogether if they are not encouraged enough.

With the help of an LMS, a university professor can simulate all stages of the publishing process and thus students will have a better understanding of this crucial aspect of the academic career.

Read more: Top 5 LMS benefits for HE students

Our approach will make research methodology classes more dynamic, more engaging and a little bit more realistic.

1. Anonymity

In an LMS, students can create avatars of personas to hide their true identity. Thus, anonymity – which is essential for any unbiased evaluation – can be obtained without too much difficulty. Moreover, students will know that they will be assessed based on their work alone and this will encourage them to do their best and submit their research for evaluation. Both teachers and fellow students can be involved in the evaluation process.

2. Deadlines

As we all know, scientific journals have strict deadlines that contributors must meet if they want their paper published. With all the distractions that students face nowadays, it is easy to forget about a specific deadline and some teachers tend to be less strict when it comes to receiving essays or papers. In an LMS, teachers can set strict deadlines for paper or abstract submission. Students must be aware that after the deadline the platform will not allow them to send their paper.

3. Peer-review

Involve students in a double-blind peer-review process, by dividing them into teams in an LMS environment. Students can take turns at both writing and assessing papers and abstracts and, with proper guidance from the teacher (for example, a clear assessment grid), they can experience a real-life publishing experience. For some, it will be easier to give feedback and assess their colleagues’ work in an LMS environment, as not all are comfortable with face to face feedback. And when you publish a paper, you receive written feedback anyway.

To sum up

An LMS can easily simulate the scientific publishing process and it might be a great idea for all those tedious research methodology classes at the undergraduate level.

Teaching students the “craft of research”, as Wayne C. Booth and his colleagues so aptly called it, is not only about making a clear argument and finding the right sources to support it. It can be about dealing with the more engaging process of giving and receiving fair and unbiased feedback.

As Bill Gates wisely said once, “We all need people who give us feedback. That’s how we improve”. And that’s how we train future scientists and scholars, we might add.

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