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Catalyst helps create the world’s first intercollegiate science publication

By Michelle Tran     9/11/14 10:15am

Last semester, Rice University’s undergraduate scientific research journal, Catalyst, teamed up with undergraduate science journals from eight other universities across the globe to produce the world’s first intercollegiate science publication organization, the International Collegiate Science Journal. The first issue will be released this November.

According to Catalyst Co-Editors-in-Chief Vijay Venkatesan and Julia Zhao, the motivation behind the initiative came from the universities’ common goal to appeal to a broad readership that is not necessarily equipped with a strong scientific or technical background.

“The main mission of ICSJ is to have a collaboration between different journals and schools and put together one journal in print and online, all with the end goal of making science more accessible and fostering more scientific discussion,” Venkatesan, a Baker College senior, said.

For the first publication, the nine participating institutions submitted two articles each, as well as edited one another’s work over the summer. In order to foster uniformity in article-writing style for the publication across the different schools, Rice students also compiled citation and design guides to be used by the ICSJ this year and beyond, according to Venkatesan and Zhao.

Both Venkatesan and Zhao said they foresee ICSJ becoming a defining part of Catalyst.

“[ICSJ] is another project that is very attractive for people to be part of,” Venkatesan said. “It is an opportunity for students to be part of something that goes beyond Rice. I think everyone will end up better off for it.”

Catalyst members in ICSJ have already begun to reap the benefits of working in this collaborative scientific environment, according to Venkatesan and Zhao.

“Another goal that we realized along the way of trying to organize our inaugural issue is the support we can offer together as organizations working together towards the same goal,” Zhao said. “ICSJ is very two-fold; it is a community, and it is a journal. Talking to other students from other universities who care as much as we do about scientific communication has already helped a lot in terms of personal morale.“

Earlier this year, ICSJ raised $6,220 through a successful kickstarter campaign, well exceeding their goal due to contributions from leading scientific companies like Elsevier, university departments and individuals.

With these newly raised funds, ICSJ has set high goals for the near future and beyond, according to Zhao and Venkatesan.

“Eventually, ICSJ might move towards having a student scientific conference,” Zhao said.

Sharmila Paul, a freshman at Sid Richardson College, plans to join Catalyst and looks forward to getting involved in ICSJ this coming year.

“I’m excited for the prospects of Catalyst being a part of ICSJ,” Paul said. “ICSJ will make for a more interesting and enriching experience.”

ICSJ’s inaugural publication will be released sometime within the next month and will be available at no cost for Rice students. Subsequent issues will be distributed regularly after the first publication throughout the year.

The other institutions joining Rice in creating the ICSJ are: Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton University, University of Oxford, Duke University and the University of Cambridge.

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