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New Journal to Feature Undergraduate Research

By Jane Yoo

The MIT Undergraduate Research Journal, MIT’s first interdisciplinary scientific journal, is expected to hit MIT newsstands next week.

MURJ, modeled largely after Scientific American, will present scientific research undertaken by MIT undergraduates in a format accessible to readers of all disciplines. “Instead of publishing a number of specialized research reports, [MURJ] publishes essays from students discussing their research fields and the larger implications of their work, without using jargon,” said MURJ founder Sanjay Basu ’02.

The new publication consists of five sections: Science News in Review, Art and Science, Features, Innoventions, and Reports.

Reports, which comprises half the publication, features undergraduate research. Basu’s goal for the section is to promote discussion of research in various areas by allowing students to discuss their work. MURJ’s first publication will include articles on topics ranging from computer science to biology.

The remaining four sections will be written by MURJ staff. “Features is mainly for current theories, but also includes articles about science and ethics,” said Basu. Art and Science aims to stimulate interest in various disciplines which cross normal scientific boundaries. Innoventions will cover technological innovations, while Science News in Review will provide summaries of recent scientific events.

Students gain valuable experience

Student submitters were pleased to have the opportunity to share their research with the larger MIT population and found that submitting a paper to MURJ was a valuable experience.

Nganfong Huang ’02 wrote an article for MURJ on the genetic abnormalities in ovarian cancer. Huang said that writing for MURJ heightened her presentation ability while enabling her to gain a better understanding of the biological techniques used in her studies.

Roozbeh Ghaffri ’01 submitted an article to MURJ and will contribute to other sections. He is excited about MURJ because it is open to the entire MIT community and is more flexible than other scientific publications on campus. “MURJ is not strictly biology or technology,” he said. “It’s very versatile.”

MURJ goes from dream to reality

MURJ originally faced funding difficulties, and there were significant doubts about maintaining sustainability. Some funding was ultimately provided by the MIT administration, while MURJ paid for printing from its own funds.

MURJ has assembled a review board of MIT students who will read the research papers for style and clarity. Professors in each discipline will review the papers for scientific content.

According to Basu, “there’s not really much of a venue for students to discuss science in a written manner.”

Karen Robinson and Shantonu Sen contributed to the writing of this article.