University of Portsmouth Launches RISE, An Online Journal to Recognize Student Excellence

RISE is a new online journal and publishing platform created by a team of professionals at the University of Portsmouth (UoP), in the United Kingdom, with the aim to recognize excellence primarily in the research-based work of students and build a greater sense of community.

Julian Ingle, Deputy Head of Academic Skills (ASK), Dr. Stuart Dr. Sims, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education in Academic Development, and Alana Aldred, online course developer at the University, lead the initiative. Through RISE, the team aims to open up a space for undergraduate students to share their valuable work online with the wider University network, particularly during the current period of reduced face-to-face contact. 

Ingle and Dr. Sims shared the importance and potential of this type of initiative with E-Learn Magazine.

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An Online Journal to Share Diverse Student Work and Build a Sense of Community

Launched earlier this year, RISE is an online journal for students to share their work with the wider community at UoP. With departments often working in silos, and student journals traditionally reserved for graduate and PHD students, the online platform will provide a space for students of all disciplines at undergraduate level to share and engage through their work. This includes projects, research papers, and more creative pieces of work. The online journal is open for student submissions and the founding team reviews all entries for publication.

“The idea is to showcase the breadth of work that our students are doing, with the rationale that it’s about having a whole university community around learning and the student experience. It’s not just siloed off to the departments and disciplines. We felt that the shifts to online learning were very impressive but also quite local. We wanted to do something that would show off what is still happening, and what our students are doing across the institution to celebrate this diversity and variety”, shared Dr. Sims.

With the entire world shifting online for learning and work, academia has made significant strides to move to digital. The RISE initiative is another example of how online digital content, in all its shapes and forms and for diverse purposes, is the next natural step in education and beyond. By placing student work virtually and in a centralized platform, it will exponentialize access, readership, and opportunities for students to share their valuable work with a wider university community.

By getting involved with RISE, students can benefit in four key ways:

  • 1) Celebrate their achievements and publish their work
  • 2) Gain new skills
  • 3) Raise their academic profile 
  • 4) Enhance their CV

The team hopes each group of students that gets involved with the journal can then mentor and hand over the work to the next group of students. “There’s a whole range of experiences and interactions that students can have with the journal. Staff are also very interested in having a vehicle for students to get their work out, as in some disciplines it’s seen as fundamental to progress in your career”, affirms Ingle.

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A Digital Space to Back Research-Based Learning

Research-based learning is an interest of both Ingle and Dr. Sims. While higher education students get exposed to a research environment, they are novice researchers and opportunities to disseminate their work are few and far between. According to Ingle, if students are expected to do research, they should also be able to disseminate their work just as academic staff do. RISE was born out of the predicament that students should be actors in the production and dissemination of research, rather than its recipients, so they can become engaged and contributing members of the academic community.

“Writing for research and publication is very different to writing for assessment, and so the social practices and abilities that are required are very different. I think when you engage students in the possibility of publication and writing for wider audiences, be that websites or journals, they are more engaged and they see it as authentic,” shares Ingle.

According to the team, the exposure to research and research-based learning is what makes universities distinct to other forms of education. If students conduct research but it doesn’t get published or is not validated, then its authenticity and meaning collapses. When students learn skills and knowledge, and can have a chance to critically engage with a wider audience, the entire process is strengthened, according to Dr. Sims. “This goes to the heart of why we came up with the idea of doing this journal. Research isn’t authentic if it doesn’t really go anywhere.” The platform will provide a practical space for students to share their original work with a community that extends beyond their lecturers.

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The Vision: A Multidisciplinary, Multimodal Space for Research

The team at UoP hopes the online journal can become a multidisciplinary, multimodal space for research. This means a space where research can be done in new and different forms, to the extent that the academic community can learn to value different perspectives and ways of producing, disseminating and articulating research.

Additionally, students rarely have the opportunity to see and experience learning beyond their disciplines, hence the importance of a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to the online journal. “I hope the journal opens up that multidisciplinarity and showcases how different disciplinary cultures create knowledge and articulate their ideas. I’m also hoping we get some audio visual interactions as well, so that we can showcase to the wider student body how different forms of research can be enacted”, says Ingle.

For Dr. Sims, a successful online journal would be one that everyone across the institution knows about, and one where students across disciplines, from physics to social work, have submitted something to the journal. “That will then have that community effect. You’re not just writing for people in your discipline, and I think that’s just going to make the university feel like a living place where research is something which is tangible in the environment”.

Since its short launch, the team has promoted the online platform through their Technology Enhanced Learning department with success. A number of submissions have already been received from a wide range of disciplines. Students seem excited at the prospect of having their work published, with the first edition likely to be published by September of this year. “Students seem quite excited that they almost didn’t know they were missing out on this opportunity until it existed. They really value having a place to share their output, particularly if they’ve done some innovative work,” says Dr. Sims.

Ingle hopes to get the students at the heart of the initiative. “We both want a co-creational dimension to it so that it becomes a joint enterprise”.

Visit RISE to learn more. 

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