If you had told me one year ago that I would have my research published by a journal affiliated with Stanford University, I would not have believed you. Yet, on December 21, 2021, my first research paper was published by Intersect: The Stanford Journal of Science, Technology, and Society. While the journey to publishing my work was over a year in the making, it all began with a similar experience to other undergraduate students – selecting courses.
BUS 720 – Independent Research
BUS 720 is a unique professionally-related course offered at Ryerson University that allows a student – pending department approval – to conduct research for a semester under the supervision of a professor of the student’s choice. Having interest to enroll in the course, I proposed my research to a Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) professor that I wanted to work with.
Preparation and Early Initiative
Immediately in the earliest stages, I found that a lot of initiative was required for success. This included preparing a proposal during my own time with guidance from my selected supervisor.
When the course began, there was a consistent demand for independent leadership. There was no hand-holding; my supervisor made sure only to provide support where necessary. It was a new experience because researching calls for high expectations combined with considerable responsibilities. It was especially daunting considering I was the only student in the class; there was no way to slack off in this course! I initially considered the journey challenging, but by the time I completed the course and my paper, I felt comfortable in the research process.
New Experiences and Lessons Learned
My lack of research practice led me to new experiences, and, with it, new lessons learned. I gained fundamental research skills such as drafting a proper annotated bibliography, creating research questions, and other valuable techniques. It was a challenge to grasp these concepts at first, but now having experienced them, I feel confident in performing these skills without supervision.
My Experiences with BUS 720
Overall, I am so grateful I took BUS 720 because it tremendously improved my life. I finished the course confident that I wanted to pursue a career in research. I learned so many new techniques and refined many of my existing skills. BUS 720 is extremely unique for an undergraduate student considering that you get to study exclusively with one professor for an entire semester. That solo dedication to developing a student as a scholar, researcher, and person is priceless. While I hope I would have eventually developed into the person I am today, I do not believe I could have improved upon myself in such a short amount of time without this course. I strongly suggest considering BUS 720 or a similar independent research course if you are interested in gaining such an experience.
Publishing My Final Work
I completed BUS 720 with a 4.33 grade – hooray! My supervisor did not make it easy for me; I had to work very hard to demonstrate I earned the grade. Once I was done with the course, it was on with the next objective: publishing. I spent most of this process without supervision because the course was complete, and I learned enough independent research skills in BUS 720 to feel confident to go forward alone. I spent the following month further revising my paper based on the final suggestions made by my supervisor and with additional suggestions I received from Dr. Antony-Newman, who is a Writing Specialist at the TRSM Academic Success Centre.
Once I felt confident in my revisions, I chose which journal I would send my paper to. After evaluating potential journals, I decided to go with Intersect based on the similarities of my paper with the journal’s themes. As well, it was Stanford University! I thought I might as well submit to one of the best; if I did not get published, I would just move on with the following best journal and the next one after that. I felt confident that eventually, a journal would publish my work; it was just a matter of who and when.
I spent the next few months after my submission eagerly waiting for a response. I was not stressed, but I hoped I would get published on my first try. I felt that the response I would receive would evaluate my academic capabilities in a way that I had not experienced before.
Eventually, one morning I woke up to an email from the Intersect team expressing interest in my paper. I thought, “I did it!” Little did I know that I merely passed the “first stage” and received no guarantees from Intersect. When publishing, a journal will express interest and then provide comments from their editorial team regarding changes they would like to see in your paper. It is only once they accept your changes and confirm that they will publish your work that you can celebrate. I may have celebrated a bit too early, but luckily the celebrations did not go to waste.
I sought help from my former supervisor and the TRSM Academic Success Centre during the revisions process. Responding to journal suggestions can be confusing, especially as an undergraduate student with no prior publication experience. Thankfully, I received amazing advice. I felt fairly stressed waiting for Intersect to accept my revisions. I had put so much effort into this paper and in working with the Intersect team, so I did not want to have it all collapse. Fortunately, my revisions were accepted, and my work was published in volume 15, issue 1. You can read my paper here.
As an exercise in self-reflection, I always like to imagine how a younger version of myself would react to meeting the current version of myself. Ever since beginning my independent research journey with BUS 720, I have become an improved person. The publishing journey was challenging and sometimes intimidating, but it was very rewarding in the end. I do not think younger-me could have ever imagined being published, let alone gaining the ability to obtain other opportunities through my experiences such as assisting in a research lab, applying for summer research programs, and writing this blog post! I think when it comes to independent research and publishing as an undergraduate student, my most significant piece of advice would, unironically, be to believe in yourself. You will be challenged, and sometimes you will be rejected, but if you love what you are doing and believe what you are doing is right, then the rest will follow suit.