Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Elizabeth Johnson, Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA

Engaging with scientific primary literature is an important skill for students at all levels, but especially for graduate students in scientific fields, as reviewing literature is an important responsibility of a professional scientist. Participating in the primary review process and reading papers with fatal experimental flaws improves graduate student research efforts yet is not a standard component of graduate education. The Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI) provides graduate students in universities around the country with the opportunity to review and edit original research papers by middle and high school student authors. The purpose of this project was to determine whether participation in the primary literature process through JEI effectively aids in developing graduate students' perceived abilities to communicate science effectively, skills in critiquing science, and preparedness for a career in science. A twelve-question survey was developed and distributed using SurveyMonkey to 215 individuals in the JEI reviewer and editor databases. The response rate for this survey was approximately 47%. The survey assessed prior research experience, experience within JEI, motivation for participating in the JEI process, and benefits obtained through participation with JEI in the three domains: communication skills, experimental critique, and career preparation. Editors, whose role involves the synthesis of feedback from multiple reviewers and interaction with papers in their earliest stages, reported the highest overall impact on career skills, followed by critique and then communication. Reviewers, whose role was to critique individual papers and send feedback to editors, reported higher gains in critiquing skills than career or communication skills; editors who edited more than ten papers had greater gains in communication than in any other area. Editors benefitted more than reviewers overall in every domain assessed by the survey. Perceived impact on experimental critiquing skills was rated more highly by reviewers who had reviewed ten or more papers than editors with the same depth of experience, the only category for which reviewers' perceived impacts surpassed those reported by editors. Older students rated the perceived impact of involvement with JEI on each domain more highly than younger graduate students, suggesting that participating in the JEI process does not only benefit young and inexperienced individuals. The results of this research are significant because they suggest that graduate students should participate early in their career in the reading and reviewing of primary literature; furthermore, flawed science writing can translate to a practical teaching method that can be applied in graduate education programs to improve experimental design and critique and science communication skills. Research is being conducted on the impact of the JEI process on the middle and high school student authors, and preliminary data for this group will be presented as well.