Supporting Undergraduate Writing Through Research and Publication

Beth Godbee and Rebecca Lorimer, Writing Across the Curriculum

When undergraduates engage in substantial, original research, they move into a powerful role of teaching others about complex ideas. Faculty, instructors, and TAs can offer intensive research experiences for undergraduates to help them think more critically about the role of communication in the research and writing process.

Why Mentor Undergraduate Research?

As experienced researchers know, writing is essential to every stage in the research process: from asking questions to disseminating findings. Whether students present their research at the annual campus Undergraduate Symposium, publish in the humanities undergraduate journal Illumination, or co-author with collaborators in research labs, they learn why we research, write, and speak with others in and beyond their disciplines. Students also see how new research informs and challenges what’s taught in courses.

Mentoring students in undergraduate research is a good use of our time because it has the potential to:

  • engage students more deeply in our disciplines and in their undergraduate educations
  • increase student involvement and motivation when the audience for assignments stretches beyond the instructor and classmates to a larger public audience
  • emphasize the role writing and speaking play in students’ chosen fields and professions
  • allow students to experience the intellectual excitement of generating new knowledge
  • advance students’ skills in information literacy
  • deepen instructor relationships with students through intensive mentoring based on an authentic research experience

Where Can Students Present or Publish Their Research?

Engaging students in authentic and professional research experiences can take on a variety of forms: mentoring students as they develop methods of inquiry, helping them conduct original research, or encouraging them to present or publish their findings and arguments to broader disciplinary and public audiences.

Presentation and publication opportunities on campus:

Undergraduate Research Symposium:

Archive: A Journal of Undergraduate History:

Conscientización: A Journal of Chican@ & Latin@ Experience and Thought:

The Digital Salon:

Equilibrium: The Undergraduate Journal of Economics at UW-Madison:

Illumination: The Undergraduate Journal of Humanities:

Journal of Undergraduate International Studies:

Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions Undergraduate Journal:

The Madison Review:

Department or course symposia:

Many departments, courses, and programs of study across campus have developed symposia or conferences for students—both undergraduate and graduate students—to share their research and work in progress. If your department or course does not currently offer students the opportunity to present their work, consider creating a conference or journal for students to share either in-progress or final products.

Publication opportunities off campus:

For comprehensive lists of national undergraduate journals in all disciplines, see these sites:

In addition to the interdisciplinary journals mentioned above, there are many field-specific publication venues for undergraduates. Just as undergraduate research is gaining in local and national recognition, so too are the number of conferences and publications for undergraduates increasing. You can also support undergraduate researchers by encouraging your association to designate a student liaison and to build opportunities for undergraduate participation and publication.