Q&A with the Editors of the Atlas: Undergraduate Journal of World History
Caroline Cassinelli and Rebecca Silver, Editors in Chief for the Atlas, reflect on the process of how papers are reviewed and chosen for the publication, and provide tips for students interested in submitting their research.
1. Tell us about the journal’s publication process. How are the papers chosen, and prepped for publication?
All papers go through several steps before they are chosen for publication. First, all submissions are anonymized (all identifying factors are removed) and the papers are divided into groups for the editors to review. The editors are split into groups of two or three based off their historical interests, relating to the paper themes.
For the first round of review, the editors choose their top three or four papers out of their groups, based off the journal’s requirements. All groups must submit rationales for why they chose to put forward the papers they did and why they chose to reject the ones they did. These rationales are submitted to us (the Editors-in-Chief) and are then distributed to all the editors. After these 15-20 papers have been chosen, and the editors have reviewed the papers, the editorial board meets to vote on which 6-9 papers should make it through onto the editing shortlist.
At this point, the papers that have been put forward by the editors are sent to professors in the specific topic area of the papers for faculty review. The faculty makes assessments based on the originality of the paper and the sources used in the paper. As the Atlas sometimes receives submissions that many editors do not have experience with, it is important that faculty members review the papers to give us insight about the originality of the papers. This is due to the wide variety of topics that the Atlas is open to publishing. We receive many interdisciplinary papers, ranging from papers written for History courses specifically, to International Relations/Political Science courses and Gender Studies courses.
After these papers have been reviewed, we notify the authors that their papers have been accepted, pending their edits. At this point, the editors can begin working on the specific edits the authors need. After the edits have been completed, the papers are reviewed a final time by the co-Editors-in-Chief, and then compiled for publication.
2. What does the Atlas look for in a good paper?
The Atlas looks for several criteria in papers for publication. Some of the most important things our editors look for are a significant use of multiple primary sources, a strong and original argument, logical organization, and very few spelling and grammar mistakes. Our editors really focus on use of primary sources and original arguments, as these are the hardest edits to make during the editing process.
3. Any advice for prospective applicants and History students alike on historical research and writing? Any writing or historical resources that you can recommend for students?
One of our biggest tips for all History students would be to be curious about historical research and about your paper topics. If you are passionate about what you are researching, you will be more likely to look for unique sources and to look for answers to your research question that may not be present in the current scholarship.
For resources for writing, we would definitely suggest utilizing all of the resources the university and department have to offer. The Writing Centre at IKBLC can help students from all departments with learning how to improve your writing style and how to better organize your arguments. The History Department also offers peer tutoring for history papers. At these events, you can get help from talented history students with how to better organize your paper for a history class specifically.
The library is also a helpful resource for history students. We both know that going to the library can be a drag, but you really won’t know what resources are out there until you go into the stacks and look at the books that are on the shelves. It’s really important to make sure you have referred to all of the relevant scholarship when constructing an argument.
For more info:
The Atlas website: https://ubcatlas.com/
The Atlas Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ubcatlas/
Caroline Cassinelli is a fourth-year student at UBC, undertaking a major in History Honours with a minor in English. Caroline is interested in the history of decolonization, as well as disability studies. In particular, she is writing her thesis on the emergence of an American Deaf political and social consciousness in the late 20th century. She currently works as a research assistant at the Museum of Anthropology and as a supervisor at Loafe Café. In her free time, she reads books and performs with UBC Musical Theatre Troupe.
Rebecca Silver is a fourth-year Honours History major from Calgary. Her main areas of historical interest include Soviet history and culture. More specifically, she is writing her thesis on representations of the Holocaust in Soviet classical music. Currently, she is working as a research assistant in the History Department. After completing her undergraduate degree, she will be attending law school. In her free time, she enjoys skiing and she is hoping to be able to make it out to Whistler a few times this winter!