Journal Focus

The Student Journal of Natural Sciences focus

The Student Journal of Natural Sciences (SJNS) is an online, peer reviewed, student journal from Keele University. SJNS publishes articles, literature reviews, case-studies, editorials, letters to the editors and book reviews from any branch of the Natural Sciences (These include but are not limited to: Life Sciences, Computing & Mathematics, Chemical & Physical Sciences, Geography, Geology and the Environment, and Psychology). As a student journal, submissions are welcomed from undergraduate and postgraduate students; in order to encourage the submission of work arising from dissertations and theses we will accept submissions for up to a year after graduation. This electronic journal has been developed to support and develop scientific enquiry, critical thinking, creative activity and scholarship within both undergraduate and postgraduate students. It also aims to support staff (and the teaching and learning environments in general) by encouraging research-led teaching and acting as an avenue for the encouragement, promotion and generation of student led research activities.

Submissions with collaborative student and staff authorship is welcomed, but only where a student is the first and corresponding author. Interdisciplinary work is also welcomed, including projects which traverse sciences and the humanities.

SJNS seeks to publish manuscripts including, but not limited to, the following examples:

  • Original concepts and results from dissertations and theses;
  • pilot studies that may form the basis of further work
  • case studies and limited results from dissertations and theses which might not fit the publication criteria of larger academic publishing agents;
  • extra-curricular, topic specific work conducted by students as researchers (for example students who take part in Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programmes);
  • literature reviews, these may have formed part of a larger piece of work (thesis or dissertation).

The contents of SJNS are freely available and SJNS is a non-profit enterprise. There are no submission or subscription fees. As an electronic journal, all accepted contributions will be made available online (in pdf format) shortly after acceptance, these will then be coordinated into a volume of The Student Journal of Natural Sciences in September each year. All contributions to SJNS are assigned a DOI on acceptance.

The Student Journal of Natural Sciences is brought to you as a franchise of The Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE).

Author Guidelines

All submissions to The Student Journal of Natural Sciences should follow these guidelines:

Types of contribution

Articles

Articles should be submitted in the format detailed below. Whilst there is no strict work count, all writing should be concise. All contributions should have structured abstracts of no more than 200 words. Up to 4 Key words should be provided, a long and short title for each article should also be included in submissions. Referencing should adhere to the Harvard style throughout. There are no limits on the number of tables and/or figures that are permitted per article. Articles containing original research should include: (1) sources of funding for the work (if any); (2) detailed explanations of methodologies used, including references that support these methodologies; (3) sufficient descriptions of statistical methods and any software used that allow readers with access to the original data to verify the reported results. See below for suggestions on expected section types and headings for submissions.

Literature Reviews

These should be concise and detailed reviews of a specific topic related to any discipline within natural sciences. Tables and/or figures should be included as required.

Case Studies

These submissions should describe projects and research that are limited in scope, this includes novel results of a well-known method applied to an area not previously studied. Structured abstracts of no more than 150 words are required.

There are no limits on the number of tables and/or figures that are permitted per case study. Whilst no word count is in place, case studies are expected to be shorter than the typical article.

Editorials

Original editorial articles should focus on issues within the natural sciences and should not exceed 1,500 words. Editorial submissions should aim to present and analyse broad topics, such as policies and trends or important new discoveries that have implications for natural science research and education or provide a carefully argued and appropriately referenced statement of a point of view. Editorials based on the use and importance of student research are also welcomed.

Letters to the Editor:

Letters to the Editor are accepted on topics determined to be of interest to our readership. There is a limit of 500 words, with one table and/or figures, and up to five references/recommended reading.

Book Reviews:

Book reviews should begin by citing the book reviewed, with full bibliographic information including full title and subtitle, authors and/or editors (inclusive of first names), publisher, place of publication, copyright date, number of pages, ISBN number, price if available, and whether the book is case bound or soft covered. Please include in the file the name and institutional address of the book reviewer as these submissions are NOT anonymous. There is a limit of 500 words on book reviews.

General requirements

PC-based, Microsoft Word is the preferred package for all submissions. Please avoid using automatic formatting. Text used in ALL submissions toSJNS should be Arial font and 12pt in size. All headings should be bold and text should be single spaced and justified to the left only.

Spelling: Authors please use UK spelling of words and avoid using a mixture of spelling styles within your article.

Abbreviations: All abbreviations and acronyms should be spelled out at first use and abbreviations should not be used in the Abstract. Even where an abbreviation is commonly used without being spelled out within your specific discipline, it needs to be spelled out at first use here.

Sections for articles

Title: Give the paper's full title plus a short title of no more than 100 characters.  Concise titles are easier to read than long, complex ones. However, titles should include enough information so that electronic retrieval of the article can be both sensitive and specific. Provide the names of all authors, their position titles, their email addresses and current school/institutional affiliations. Indicate the name and full contact information (email address, postal address and phone number) of the corresponding author.

Abstract: Abstracts are the only substantive portion of the article indexed in many electronic databases, so the abstract needs to reflect the content of the text clearly and accurately. Even when the entire article is available, many readers only look at the abstract. To increase the likelihood that they will grasp the primary issues presented in the article or even decide to read the entire article, abstracts needs to outline the key information, highlighting new findings and strategies and other intriguing information.

Preferred headings for SJNS articles are: Title, Abstract, Introduction (can include background), Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions.(These headings should also be found in the full text to facilitate linking). Different headings will be accepted where they are necessary or appropriate.

Keywords: Assign up to 4 keywords (or phrases) for indexing purposes. Key words will be used for searching purposes; they will also assist in cross-indexing the articles.

Main text: Within the text, make headings and subheadings bold for clarity. For greater clarity and for linking purposes. Explain all technical terms the first time that you use them. Also, spell out abbreviations and acronyms at first use.

References within the text: Authors are required to use the Harvard style for all referencing. 

Acknowledgements: Immediately after the text, if required, provide the names of people who have made a significant contribution to the project but do not qualify as authors. Also, if applicable, cite sources of funding or other resources for the reported work. As a separate section following the acknowledgements, cite any conflicts of interest, if applicable.

Tables and figures: All tables and figures must be referenced within the main text (e.g. Fig. 1). In your submission include tables and figures immediately after the references. Use Arabic numerals to number the tables and figures, according to their sequence of citation. Provide a short, self-explanatory caption for each table and figure. Text used in tables/figures should be Arial font and 9pt in size. Headings should be bold. Text should have single spacing. Within the text, indicate where each table and figure belongs (for example, "Insert Fig. X about here"). Typically, tables and figures belong after the paragraph where they are first cited. In addition to figures being included in the document that is submitted, high quality figures will be required to be uploaded separately. Tables: Use the tables feature from Word to create the tables, rather than using the space bar or tabs and tab stops to separate columns of data. Do not use vertical rules to separate columns. Units should be in parentheses in the column heading but not in the body of the table. Put explanatory notes, labelled with superscript (a, b, c, etc.), at the bottom of the table. Ensure that tables are sufficiently comprehensive so that readers can understand them without referencing the text. Be sure to spell out abbreviations or acronyms, even if you have already done so in the text. Figures: All illustrations (photographs, graphs, and diagrams) should be called 'Figures'. Figures should be made using a suitable illustration and design software (e.g. CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator). Figures should be uploaded as EPS files. Please name each file with the corresponding authors surname and figure number (e.g. Smith_Fig_1). Make sure that figures can be interpreted without reference to the text. Include keys to symbols in the captions. Figures should be professionally drawn, of publication quality, and capable of proportional reduction. Keep in mind that figures should be meaningful, rather than decorative. If you have figures, photos, video or audio in jpg, gif, wmv or mp3 formats as part of your article, these should be submitted as appendices during the article submission process. Always keep a copy of what you submit in case of file corruption.

Manuscript submission

All submissions to SJNS should be made online. Manuscripts must be submitted by one of the authors of the manuscript. The submitting author, who is usually the corresponding author, takes responsibility for the article during the submission and review process. Submission (with the exception of Editorials, Letters to the Editor and Book Reviews) must be accompanied by a Cover Letter. This letter should set out to “sell” your article to the editors, and include a statement outlining why the manuscript fits with the journals focus, briefly outline the submission stating what has been done, and what the main findings are.

Submissions, including all associated materials, should be emailed to:  sjns@keele.ac.uk

Be prepared to submit for each author: full name (to be included in published material e.g. Joe A. Smith), position title, organisation (current at the time of article preparation), phone contact and email address. Acknowledgement will be sent after successful submission.

If you have questions or come across problems while uploading your manuscript, you are encouraged to seek assistance from: sjns@keele.ac.uk

Review process

SJNS uses an online peer review strategy to speed up the publication process and adopts a blind peer-review process, concealing the identities of authors from reviewers and reviewers from authors. If you want your identity concealed from the reviewers of your paper, please do not provide any authors’ names, institutions, or other identifying information on any page after the first page of your manuscript.  Once your manuscript has been submitted it will be streamed into our journal's reviewing process. You are expected to prepare your manuscript according to our journal’s guidelines and requirements as detailed in these instructions. Contributions that fail to conform in major ways will be returned before they are processed. Each submission that meets our journal’s guidelines is initially reviewed by one of our Editors, who decide whether a manuscript is ready for external peer review. If your manuscript is ready for external review, it will be sent to a peer reviewer who is associated with the journal. 

All submitted articles are rated on each of the following criteria:

1. The focus of this paper is consistent with the mission of SJNS

2. This paper presents useful ideas/lessons for readers of SJNS.

3. The abstract accurately reflects the text.

4. The context/rationale for the work is clear.

5. Credit is given to the relevant work of others.

6. The paper's objectives/purposes are clear.

7. The paper is clearly written.

8. The project or study is well-designed (where applicable).

9. The findings/ideas/conclusions are original.

10. Methodologies are clearly outlined.

11. For quantitative studies, any statistics reported are appropriately used.

12. For qualitative studies, findings are grounded in the data.

13. For innovation submissions, the innovation is clearly and usefully described.

14. Limitations/problems are reported and addressed.

15. The conclusions are consistent with the study results.

16. The presentation is sensitive to an international audience.

 

Reviewers provide a detailed report to the editor associated with the submission and recommend one of the following outcomes:

1. Accept the paper.

2. Accept after minor modifications

3. Reconsider after major revisions

4. Reject the paper for failing to meet the journal’s criteria (providing feedback)

Following the external review, most authors will be asked to undertake one or more revisions. This decision and detailed feedback related to required revision(s) / rejection of your article will be emailed to lead authors only. The ultimate responsibility for any decision lies with the SJNS Editorial Board, to whom any appeals against rejection should be addressed.

Ethics, authorship and copyright

Ethical concerns

Submission of a manuscript to SJNS implies that all authors have read and agreed to its content, and that approval of research has been obtained from an ethics committee (where appropriate), in compliance with Keele University Regulations regarding ethical research (or the equivalent). The manuscript must be the authors' original work and manuscripts that are derived from papers presented at conferences or dissertations and theses can be submitted to SJNS. Further, submissions of articles based on published abstracts, verbal or poster presentations at conferences and/or meetings are also welcomed. Authors are required to ensure that no material submitted as part of a manuscript infringes existing copyrights, or the rights of a third party.

Competing interests: A competing interest exists when your interpretation of data or presentation of information may be influenced by your personal or financial relationship with other people or organisations. We ask authors of SJNS to list all competing interests (if any) at the end of their submission, as a separate section following the Acknowledgements.

Authorship

All authors should be listed on the title page or first page of any submission. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take responsibility for some part of the content. One (or more) author(s) should take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole. Usually, this is the corresponding author’s responsibility. An "author" is generally considered to be someone who has made substantive intellectual contributions to the article. To qualify as an author, you should 1) have made substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) have been involved in drafting the manuscript or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) have given final approval of the version to be published. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. Any contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an acknowledgements section.

Copyright

Authors who publish in SJNS retain copyright to their work and SJNS is published under Creative Commons. Where applicable, authors are required to have obtained permission to use any copyright-protected material in their submitted paper, including material in the form of figures or tables. While authors retain copyright of their original material, by publishing in SJNS you will have agreed to the following contractual terms:

  • The article is the original work of the stated author(s)
  • The work has not been published previously or does not infringe existing copyright from a prior publication
  • SJNS may use the article for publicity purposes

Publication

Once the article has been submitted, you will be able to check its progress by email from the Managing Editor or directly from the assigned Editor where article-specific editorial correspondence is appropriate. Editing: All accepted manuscripts will be substantively edited for content and overall presentation, so authors should be prepared for further revisions during editing. The authors are responsible for the accuracy of the final, edited version, which the corresponding author approves of on behalf of all authors, either after consulting with all co-authors, or by obtaining their advance authority to approve the final version on their behalf. Electronic proofs: Prior to publication, the corresponding author will receive email notification when electronic proofs are ready. They will be requested to agree to the journal's copyright conditions and approve the edited article. Publication will occur once this task is completed.

Pre-submission checklist

Before uploading your article, please ensure that you have completed all the items in this checklist. If you have any questions at this stage, please contact the journal staff and we will be pleased to assist you.

  • Read these Instructions for Authors carefully.
  • Make sure to supply all author details, including institutional and current

addresses.

  • Indicate the correspondence author.
  • Indicate the type of article.
  • Make sure that your abstract is appropriately structured.
  • Explain all abbreviations and technical terms the first time they are used.
  • Observe the appropriate word limit for the type of submission.
  • Assign up to 4 keywords (or phrases) for indexing purposes.
  • Check that all references are complete, accurate, and set in the Harvard style
  • of referencing.
  • Cite sources of funding, if applicable.
  • Cite conflicts of interest, if applicable.

 

Communicating with the journal staff:

sjns@keele.ac.uk

Peer Reviewers and Editors

The Journal is currently actively recruiting both Editors and Peer Reviewers, if you would like to be considered for either role (or both!) please email:  sjns@keele.ac.uk

Peer Review

In addition to our focus of providing all students an outlet to publish their work through a Diamond Open Access, online platform with rapid publication rate, the SJNS is also committed to the development of core research skills, namely Peer Review and Journal Editing.

Peer Review.

Put simply, peer review is the evaluation of work by people with similar competencies and knowledge bases. At SJNS our peer review system is based on a series of indicative areas, where reviewers will be asked to judge how well a submission fits with those areas. It is our intention to never reject a submission outright (unless it does not conform to the Author Guidelines), rather, we aim to provide detailed feedback that will enable authors to improve their manuscripts with potential for further review.

Individuals who conduct reviews for SJNS will be offered the opportunity to attend a Peer Review Workshop, outlining the basics of review, and letting you know what you will be expected to do as a reviewer. This training is not compulsory, but we do insist that all reviewers uphold the following principles:

  1. Be professional - Peer review is a serious, and necessary, part of the publication process. Take your time, be thorough and be confident in your convictions;
  2. Be organised – We aim to get submissions turned around as soon as possible, we understand that the publication of these submissions might be used for graduating students in their search for career and further education opportunities;
  3. Be nice – even if a submission needs a lot of work before it can be accepted, there is no need to be unpleasant to the author(s), all feedback given should constructive, and as positive as possible;

Each submission that meets our journal’s guidelines is initially reviewed by one of our Editors or Sub-Editors, who decide whether a manuscript is ready for external peer review. If your manuscript is ready for external review, it will be sent to a peer reviewer who is associated with the journal.

All submitted articles are rated on each of the following criteria:

Indicative aim:

Requires major modifications

Requires minor modifications

Satisfactory

Good

Outstanding

1. The focus of this paper is consistent with the mission of SJNS

 

 

 

 

 

2. This paper presents useful ideas/lessons for readers of SJNS.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The abstract accurately reflects the text.

 

 

 

 

 

4. The context/rationale for the work is clear.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Credit is given to the relevant work of others.

 

 

 

 

 

6. The paper's objectives/purposes are clear.

 

 

 

 

 

7. The paper is clearly written.

 

 

 

 

 

8. The project or study is well-designed (where applicable).

 

 

 

 

 

9. The findings/ideas/conclusions are original.

 

 

 

 

 

10. Methodologies are clearly outlined.

 

 

 

 

 

11. For quantitative studies, any statistics reported are appropriately used.

 

 

 

 

 

12. For qualitative studies, findings are grounded in the data.

 

 

 

 

 

13. For innovation submissions, the innovation is clearly and usefully described.

 

 

 

 

 

14. Limitations/problems are reported and addressed.

 

 

 

 

 

15. The conclusions are consistent with the study results.

 

 

 

 

 

16. The presentation is sensitive to an international audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewers provide a detailed report to the editor associated with the submission and recommend one of the following outcomes:

1. Accept the submission.

2. Accept after minor modifications.

3. Reconsider after major revisions.

4. Reject the paper for failing to meet the journal’s criteria (providing feedback).

Following the external review, most authors will be asked to undertake one or more revisions. This decision and detailed feedback related to required revision(s) / rejection of your article will be emailed to lead authors only. The ultimate responsibility for any decision lies with the SJNS Editorial Board, to whom any appeals against rejection should be addressed.

Reviewers are encouraged to sign off their reviews, but we understand that some individuals won’t be comfortable with that, so staying anonymous is fine too!

Editors.

We want to encourage early career scientists (this includes PhD researchers) to have an opportunity experiencing journal editing and as such, welcome individuals with specialist knowledge in any area of the Natural Sciences to contact us if they wish to be considered for participation (or to peer review), get in touch:

sjns@keele.ac.uk