A year and half ago, seeds were sown for Spectra, a student-run peer-reviewed science magazine. As Spectra welcomed its new managing editor a few months ago, we felt there was a need to develop a training program for the editors and reviewers – one that was targeted towards engineering and science undergrad students with no prior experience in peer review or editing.
So, together the managing editor, I decided to launch a virtual internship program in science writing and editing. The aim was twofold: to test the possibility of online training in scholarly writing/editing and to attract and eventually train editors and writers for Spectra.
Social media advertising brought us more than a hundred and fifty applications from undergrads and postgraduates from around the country and abroad in just two weeks. Responses came not just from technical students, but also from people studying social sciences.
The interns were assigned weekly lessons as well as intensive assignments for six weeks. Personalised feedback was the hallmark of the program. At the end of their course, the best interns were offered positions for the following year on Spectra.
It is highly encouraging to know that a similar Canadian STEM journal has expressed interest in replicating our virtual training program, and also that some of the interns have also started contributing to science blogs and international student science journals. This serves as great motivation to run more training programmes in the future.
Promoting science and giving back to the community is something hugely important to me. I strongly feel this is something that should be incorporated better into campus life; so I decided, towards the end of my summer vacation, to put together a team of sophomores and juniors to put things into motion.
The action plan is to empower the team to design science experiments and educational demonstrations, communicating science to underprivileged schools as well as orphanages.
It has only been a month since I started this work. So the outcome is still unclear, but I am feeling positive.
Hopefully the next time I write, I will have some good news to share!