Explorations Magazine allows students of all classifications the opportunity to see their works published.
Explorations is a part of Learning Communities, Academic Excellence, Undergraduate Research, National Fellowships, Capstones and Honors (LAUNCH), a unit within the Division of Academic Affairs, and is an interdisciplinary journal focused on publishing the work of Texas A&M undergraduates. Founded over a decade ago, Explorations publishes scholarly research and creative works from any discipline, and has also expanded to include online multimedia components and visual submissions.
Explorations’ purpose is simple, yet important, said the journal’s current Editor-in-Chief, statistics senior Douglas Fletcher.
“Explorations’ goal is to spread the impact of undergraduate research to a larger audience, both within Texas A&M and the local community,” Fletcher said. “This is done by having high quality submissions subjected to a peer review, but presenting them in an open format accessible to everyone.”
Since the journal publishes across all disciplines, it aims to highlight the breadth, not depth, of research across departments. Engineering has always been the largest source of submissions, but other scientific disciplines are well represented, said political science senior and Senior Editor Reagan Spexarth.
“A lot of hard sciences, especially chemistry and biology, always have submissions,” Spexarth said. “We also see a lot of submissions from English, and that’s because of the strength of these departments in promoting undergraduate research.”
The path to publication is competitive. On average, only 10 percent of articles submitted for review get published, as they average 100 a year but have seen as many as 150 articles, said Fletcher. The publishing process is straightforward yet rigorous. It begins with the submission of a synopsis by Feb. 3. The editorial team then reviews all the submissions and invites about 20 to submit full manuscripts in late February.
Both students and faculty engage in reviews of the manuscripts, with the article being finalized from August to October and the journal published in November.
While it is a lengthy process, it is a valuable and rewarding one, said biomedical engineering senior Erica Huebner, who co-authored an article that was published in the November 2019 issue of Explorations.
“It was a great opportunity to see how the publication process works,” Huebner said. “Being able to get my work in the open so people could see it was important to me, especially as I want to go to graduate school, and getting published was a great experience that I would recommend to other students.”
Both Fletcher and Spexarth highlight the many benefits of going through the process and ultimately being published.
“It’s a great resume boost,” said Fletcher. “On top of that, learning how to be edited and what a professional review process is looking for is important for students.”
Spexarth said for those looking to do research in the future, learning how to sell people on your research is crucial to securing funding, and Explorations gives undergraduate students valuable experience doing that.
“We are a Tier 1 research university, and we want to highlight that,” Fletcher said. “Explorations allows us to feature undergraduates in the community and give them an opportunity to publish their work.”