Charity Spotlight: The Journal of Emerging Investigators, Inc (JEI)

The Journal of Emerging Investigators, Inc. (JEI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing scientific literacy in middle and high school students.  JEI was established by graduate students at Harvard Medical School to provide scientific outreach to Boston-area middle and high school students and, in particular, to teach students the importance of articulate scientific communication.

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The JEI organizational structure mimics that of a scientific journal, with teams of scientific editors, copy editors, and reviewers who evaluate manuscripts submitted by students.  Students are motivated to write about their experiments in a professional manuscript format in order to become published authors, and thereby receive recognition for their work.  Our scientific editors, who serve as mentors for student authors, provide feedback on students’ experimental design, execution of the experiment, and writing skills.  Meanwhile, our scientific reviewers, who often hold a PhD in the student’s field of interest, provide professional guidance and suggest additional experiments for students to make their studies more rigorous. After several months of working with JEI, students not only publish their research, but also develop fluency in scientific data analysis, critical thinking, and communication.

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Middle and high school students have limited avenues through which to communicate their research with a larger scientific community. JEI gives students an opportunity to submit original research, receive mentorship on their work from expert scientists through the scientific review process, and have their work published. Through the process of submission and publication in JEI, students develop skills as scientific communicators.  The scientific review process helps students understand the strengths and weaknesses of their paper, to think more deeply about the science they are presenting, and to improve their experiments. Peer review is a key aspect of communication in the culture of science that secondary students rarely experience prior to committing to a university-level track in research. JEI student authors, like real scientists, deepen conceptual understanding and develop new ideas about their research from their publication review team through the process of scientific review. Students who may not have performed novel science experiments themselves also learn that science experimentation is interdisciplinary, as each JEI manuscript details real-world applications using multiple facets of classroom subject matter.

JEI presents an opportunity for teachers to further challenge highly capable and motivated students, but perhaps most significantly, JEI manuscripts can be used as teaching resources in the classroom. For teachers looking to expose their students to primary scientific literature, professional articles that use abstruse language and unfamiliar methods may overwhelm and demotivate students. Scientific articles seeking to answer relatable questions and employing language that students comprehend can better engage students in their education and impart new depth to classroom discussion. JEI generates polished scientific articles written at a secondary school level relating to themes in the school science curriculum and concerning subjects that appeal to students.

Since our inception in 2011, we have had over 450 submissions from students studying at over 240 unique schools in 31 U.S. states and 15 countries. We recently published our 120th student manuscript. Although submissions to JEI have covered a wide range of topics including biochemistry, psychology, and microbiology, our fundamental goal is not merely to publish. Rather, we serve as an outlet of invaluable mentoring between trained scientists and future scientists.

To see examples of our young scientists’ articles and learn more about JEI, visit  http://www.emerginginvestigators.org/.

 

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