The power of publishing

Writing an article and going through a process of peer reviews and editing can be daunting for anyone. For students, adding the required time and energy to their already busy schedule can give them reason to pause, wondering if the end result is worth it.

For most who dare to try, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

“The process of researching, writing, editing and publishing an article provides valuable feedback on what steps may require improvement and where a student’s strengths may be,” said Erik Echols, assistant director of the University of Washington Bothell’s Writing & Communication Center. “Going through these steps will improve writing and research skills that will be useful in graduate studies or a professional career.”

Echols serves as one of the faculty advisers — along with Dr. Andrea Stone, associate professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies — for the Campus Research & Observational Writing journal. Also known as The CROW, the publication is a compilation of research-related work by students across all disciplines. Produced annually since 2015, the journal now has eight issues and has showcased the work of more than 110 students.

The CROW editors with advisers Erik Echols, assistant director of the Writing & Communication Center, and Andrea Stone, associate professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies

“Having a published paper will provide a certain level of professionalism to a resume that many undergraduates would not otherwise have. It also shows graduate school committees and employers that steps were taken to seriously pursue research interests,” Echols said. “It’s often seen as an example of leadership and drive.”

The research journal is a great way for UW Bothell students to hone their skills and impress. It is also just one of several publishing ventures they can pursue.

A new confidence

Senior Isabella Humphries, a Health Studies major, is one of the students featured in this year’s edition of The CROW.

She wrote a research proposal to study Renal Cell Carcinoma, or kidney cancer, using a qualitative research approach. “Currently there is no qualitative screening method that can diagnose kidney cancer properly,” Humphries said. “This is problematic as 70% of the cases are incidental findings and often are already at stage four.”

Her submission outlines what the cancer is as well as what it does to the body. She proposes a screening process similar to one used to diagnose general anxiety disorder in which patients are asked questions that could point their doctor to further exploration.

“It could make a big difference if doctor offices administered a survey for patients that detailed common symptoms associated with kidney cancer,” Humphries said. “Their responses could lead to preventive action before it’s too late.”

The process from submitting her proposal to getting it published took more than seven months. “It’s definitely been a journey,” she said, “and it was surreal when I got the news it was going into print.

“Before this, I considered myself an okay writer, but I struggled with grammar and writing concisely. I never imagined that my work would be accepted for publication. This process has given me a new confidence in myself and my abilities.”

The 2023 edition — available in the Writing & Communication Center — features 14 student papers representing 23 authors from the schools of Business, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Nursing & Health Studies and STEM.

Diverse voices

The same benefits of publishing are true for Clamor, UW Bothell’s literary and arts journal that showcases the best creative practices in literary, visual and media arts from across the campus and surrounding community. First published in 2006, it has grown over the years to become a full-color print publication and an online publication including audio, video and mixed media.

“Clamor’s goal is to spotlight the artistic practices and innovations of our UW Bothell campus and surrounding communities, and we seek to center voices from those who have had less access to publication opportunities,” said Dr. Ching-In Chen, assistant professor in the School of IAS and faculty adviser for Clamor.

Clamor editors with adviser Ching-In Chen, assistant professor in the School of IAS

This year’s issue includes 60 creative writing pieces, nine videos, and 41 drawings, paintings and collages. A total of 56 students will be published, along with 10 alumni, one faculty member and 10 people from the community.

A student in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics program, Alexandria Simmons is a published author and artist in the journal — and serves on its editorial board.

“Clamor creates this community hub of arts on campus, and I think it is a beautiful way to get people connected and to generate mental stimulation,” Simmons said. “Having my work published was really inspiring and a great way to build my portfolio.

“It’s also been really rewarding to see this tangible thing that I created on my own that is now out in the world.”

Beyond publishing

Serving on the editorial board was another way for Simmons to build her portfolio, as it allowed her to learn more than just how to publish her own work. All editors are part of Chen’s three-quarter class where they also learn graphic design, marketing, editing, event planning and promotion.

Simmons joined the board to gain experience as an editor within the publishing industry. The time she spent on multiple teams, however, offered more opportunities for growth than she expected. “Gaining these skills — working with budgets, coordinating with different teams and getting things approved — has been hugely beneficial in giving me real-world experience for when I graduate,” she said.

Simmons led the events team and worked with other board members to produce a June 1 launch party outside Founders Hall (UW1). Works by this year’s selected painters and visual artists were showcased in displays while published authors got the opportunity to read their work aloud. Following the authors, the event also featured an open mic session for others to share their work. Event attendees could pick up a copy of Clamor’s 2023 print edition, participate in guided painting and chalk art activities, and get temporary tattoos.

“It’s a big culmination and celebration of everything we have done this year,” she said, “and we encouraged our campus community to stop by and help us celebrate.”

UW Bothell students have opportunities to publish work through their coursework, too. In spring quarter 2023, for example, 21 students in Rad Womxn in the Global South have been working on Badass Womxn of the Pacific Northwest, a zine that made its debut in 2019.

Personal writing

At that time, Dr. Julie Shayne, teaching professor in the School of IAS, said that transforming students into authors in just eight weeks was the most ambitious and most exciting project she had done in her 20+ years as a college professor. She collaborated with Denise Hattwig, curator of digital collections in the Campus Library, and Penelope Wood, research and instruction librarian for the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies program.

Choosing a zine format to honor womxn and non-binary people from the Pacific Northwest was fitting, Shayne said, because the origin of zines stems from the Riot Grrrl feminist punk movement that started in Olympia, Washington, in the early 1990s.

“Zines are incredibly important to feminist everything but especially feminist publishing,” she said. “Zines were a way for people who had a lot to say — but whom nobody was listening to — to get their voices out there.”

That kind of real world impact was part of what interested John Emerton, a senior majoring in Education with a minor in GWSS and a peer facilitator for the class “One of the things that made me excited is how many of the students chose to write about people from Seattle,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to understand our local community and realize that important things happen here and not just in San Francisco or in New York where a lot of activist history has been centralized.”

Zachary Peeples, a senior majoring in Community Psychology, chose to write about Seattleite Odessa Brown, a Black activist who raised four children at the height of the civil rights movement. He said writing about Brown represented more than just an assignment or a grade.

“Odessa Brown became a community organizer, fighting to bring quality health care with dignity to children in the Central District. Sadly, she died of leukemia at age 49,” he said. “She reminded me a lot of my mom who passed away from cancer at age 49, too. My mom also had four kids, and I was tearing up as I was writing that part, but it was powerful.”

A record of achievement

The 2023 edition of Badass Womxn of the Pacific Northwest celebrates 11 authors and poets, 10 activists, two artists, an athlete, a lawyer, a professor and a librarian. Not only does it honor the successes of “badasses,” but it sets the students up for success, too.

“There are so many opportunities at UW Bothell,” Shayne said. “We want our students to thrive and succeed — and one of the ways we help them do that is through research and publishing.

“There are many venues to gain that experience, either in our classes or through The CROW and Clamor. Students should seize the day,” she said, “and take the opportunities and resources available to them, including the help of so many faculty and staff.”

In addition to serving as a peer facilitator in Shayne’s class, Emerton was also published in the latest zine. He wrote a piece on Aleksa Manila, a drag queen, social activist and drug counselor.

“l will be using the zine in my capstone project and resume,” he said. “It’s great to have published work before graduating. It’s made me feel much more confident about my skills as a writer and researcher.”

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