Center for Literacy’s grad student-run journal debuts

"Literacies Across the Lifespan" is co-edited by PhD students in the Literacy, Language & Culture program

The College of Education’s Center for Literacy recently published its first issue of an academic journal authored and peer-reviewed by graduate students.

The journal, Literacies Across the Lifespan, will publish biannually in the Spring and Fall. The goal of the publication is to provide peer-reviewed empirical research, working papers on field-based practices and conceptual pieces, according to founding co-editors Andrea Vaughan and Sunah Chung, who are both graduates of the college's PhD program in Literacy, Language & Culture.

“The aim is for the journal to contribute to ongoing conversations about literacy across learners’ lives, from early childhood to adulthood, and in contexts across home, school and community settings,” said Vaughan.

Literacies Across the Lifespan seeks to represent diverse and new paradigms, methodologies, and perspectives and to promote ethical scholarly writing that honors learners and educators, according to the editors.

Planning for the journal began in the Fall of 2019, and it is run by graduate students working at UIC’s Center for Literacy. Kira Baker-Doyle, director of the Center for Literacy and an associate professor of curriculum and Instruction, serves as the faculty advisor.

The deadline to submit for the next issue is July 15, 2021. The journal welcomes new authors and reviewers as well as anyone interested in becoming a grad student editor.

Anyone is eligible to submit topics which are limited to literacy topics, though the definition of literacy is broadly defined to include all of the ways people make meaning from various kinds of texts including the use of non text pieces such as images and other art forms.

Demystifying the publication process for graduate students

The peer reviewers have been graduate students in the College of Education. To prepare for the journal, Baker-Doyle provided a workshop (recording below) about peer review to support those who were new to the process.

“A big goal of the journal is to mentor graduate students into various parts of the publication process, from learning about peer review, to seeing a manuscript through to publication,” Vaughan said. “Often this process is opaque to grad students, and we want to demystify that while also providing a high-quality peer review process.”

The intended audiences for the journal are both literacy scholars and literacy practitioners such as teachers. For that reason, the journal seeks to publish empirical research and conceptual pieces.  A “Notes From the Field” section will highlight pieces from people putting ideas into practice. For example, the inaugural issue features an article with a list of prompts teachers can use in their classrooms.

“We want to contribute both to the scholarly conversations in the field, as well as to the work teachers and community-based practitioners are doing in their contexts,” Vaughan said.

How the journal review process works, from the publishers of Literacies Across the Lifespan