By Wen Kin Lim | Images by Yasunari Watanabe
On 18 November 2016, the Yale-NUS College Society for Academic Research (YNSAR) launched the inaugural Yale-NUS Undergraduate Journal, featuring the best undergraduate research across multiple academic disciplines at the College.
Patrick Wu (2019), President of YNSAR, said the Journal’s main objectives are to provide a forum for the best undergraduate research and to become a leading platform for undergraduate researchers to publish their work. In doing so, the Journal grants students a unique opportunity to learn and judge the qualities of good academic writing, an essential skill for those considering a career in academia.
“We offer students a forum that encourages them to write papers and think about issues beyond the confines of the classroom, and thereby to develop their own expertise,” Patrick explained.
The first edition features contributions from eight Yale-NUS students, covering fields that range from literature and philosophy to urban studies. As a result of the multidisciplinary curriculum at Yale-NUS, students are encouraged to go in depth into a particular discipline through research and substantiate their ideas in a rigorous manner.
“The range of subjects covered in the Journal is reflective of the complexity of the Yale-NUS curriculum,” said Founding President of Yale-NUS, Professor Pericles Lewis at the launch event.
While YNSAR currently features research from Yale-NUS undergraduate students, Jerald Lim (Class of 2019), a member of the executive committee, said he hopes they will receive submissions from undergraduate students at other universities in Singapore and the region. As the journal grows in size, they aim to develop an international audience and become a well-known publication for undergraduate research in the region.
Undergraduate research is often overlooked due to the general perception that undergraduate students lack the in-depth specialisation and knowledge to publish meaningful work. Yet, research at the undergraduate level can be vital for sharpening the abilities of students and providing experience for those considering a route in academia. By publishing the Journal, YNSAR cultivates more opportunities for students to improve and increasingly recognises outstanding undergraduate student work.
Professor of Social Sciences Terry Nardin, the faculty advisor for YNSAR, remarked on the benefits of pursuing academic research as undergraduates, as it “develops intellectual self-confidence and, from time to time, brings you the satisfaction of discovering something new, solving a tough problem, or expressing yourself well”.
He said: “The journal offers a new way for students to share what they’ve learned, and to package it to be intelligible and interesting to readers with different interests.”
Lim Chu Hsien (2019), whose research paper ‘New Urbanism’ is published in the Journal, said exposure to research at such an early stage helped her learn the art and skill of addressing interesting questions in a logical and sequential manner.
A challenge that YNSAR faced when organising this journal was that there were not many existing high quality undergraduate journals to serve as examples to draw on. At the launch, Rebecca Huang (Class of 2019), who is part of the YNSAR executive committee, thanked the professors who “kindly helped to guide us on the right track”. The final papers were selected and edited by a team composed of both faculty professors and students.
Regarding the Journal’s tangible impact on campus, YNSAR hopes publishing student papers will bring in meaningful academic conversations to dining tables and thereby bring the community together on an intellectual level.
YNSAR is also planning to organise an undergraduate research symposium in the near future, with the Journal being the first step to bring closer the undergraduate academic community in Singapore.