Sharp students

Anneliese Mackintosh is one of the postgraduates at Glasgow who produce an online journal to boost their skills

November 6, 2008

Fifth anniversary celebrations are under way for the online journal eSharp, a biannual publication run entirely by postgraduates at the University of Glasgow.

The journal, which covers the arts, humanities, law, business, social sciences and education, will publish its 12th issue next month. It has 440 peer reviewers registered worldwide and 30 editorial board members.

Anneliese Mackintosh, who is in the final year of a creative writing PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: "We feel very proud of it because we own it, and are learning as we go along. Often in the university, training is provided for us, which is great, but here we're doing the learning ourselves."

Ms Mackintosh said she got involved with eSharp just over a year ago because she was feeling isolated in her department.

"I wanted to learn more about the critical element of writing articles, and the best way (to learn is) to read other people's." The journal aims to boost postgraduates' skills and employability, offering experience in everything from editing and website design to time management and conference organisation.

Ms Mackintosh has already served the maximum six months as general editor, and has now taken on the role of training co-ordinator, which involves coaching peer reviewers to give helpful criticism. All submissions get at least two pages of feedback, something Ms Mackintosh said can be lacking from conventional journals. "We've got the spare time to have a good go at this and (to) provide a supportive and nurturing environment," she said.

"It's quite important in academia to start editing papers. Learning how to do it with us, where we give you training, is quite an easy way to pick up these skills and a great way of reading what other people are doing in your field."

Ms Mackintosh said careful succession planning had ensured that there were no problems caused by the transience of postgraduates. "It's a strength, because new people keep coming in with new ideas and ambition."

The journal has been helping establish similar ventures at other universities, and it was instrumental in founding the Association of Postgraduate Journals, which held its inaugural symposium in Glasgow in August.

Ms Mackintosh said working on eSharp had given her tremendous confidence and boosted her CV.

"Research Councils UK has a long list of skills you're expected to learn. Simply by joining eSharp and having fun, I've ticked off pretty well all of them."

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