Georgia College publication for student research read worldwide

Georgia College publication for student research read worldwide

F or anybody who thinks libraries are passé, dimly-lit rooms filled with dusty old books––take another look. An online repository called the Knowledge Box is maintained within the brick façade of Ina Dillard Russell Library. And, in that, is a publication called “The Corinthian.”

It has placed Georgia College on the map. Literally.

More than 200,000 people in nearly 200 countries worldwide have accessed the digital journal––which publishes about 10 undergraduate research projects per year.

“‘The Corinthian’ is our signature publication,” said Dr. Shaundra Walker, library director. “I love what we’ve been able to accomplish with ‘The Corinthian,’ because it pushes against that stereotype of librarians having buns and glasses and ugly shoes.”

“For anybody who thinks we’re just over here reading a book, dusting off shelves, that’s not what’s happening here,” she said. “We’re doing really impactful work.”

Dr. Shaundra Walker.
Dr. Shaundra Walker.
Just as impressive as worldwide attention––research in “The Corinthian” has been downloaded by members of the U.S. State Department, the Senate and Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce.

The U.S. Department of Education leads the way with 58 downloads from the 2020 “Corinthian.” Officials there seemed particularly interested in music education for students with disabilities.

More than 1,800 institutions–– including 82 of the top 100 universities in America listed by U.S. News & World Report also accessed articles from last year’s “Corinthian.” These universities included Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Duke.

‘The Corinthian' fits really well into our liberal arts mission...
– Dr. Walker
“‘The Corinthian’ fits really well into our liberal arts mission,” Walker said. “We’re uniquely positioned as a public liberal arts university. There’s a responsibility that comes with that, and I think Knowledge Box is one of the ways we can deliver on that responsibility of being good public stewards and making sure the knowledge that’s produced here is publicly available.”

Georgia College’s “Corinthian” has been around since the 1940s. More than 800 undergraduate students have published research in it over the years.

But their research never got the kind of attention today’s students enjoy.

In the past, it was standard to print, bind and copy research papers. Students got copies and one would stay on the shelf at the university library, mostly unread. With Knowledge Box, the online repository allows anyone–– grandmothers, neighbors, business owners, teachers and government agencies to access research conducted here.

Knowledge Box keeps track of downloads and geographical locations of interested readers. Students are sent a monthly report on the traffic their research generates. They can use this information on Linked-In, resumes and graduate school applications.

Jennifer Townes.
Jennifer Townes.
Jennifer Townes, scholarly communication librarian at Russell Library, doesn’t know why “The Corinthian” is so “wildly popular.” She started working at Georgia College in 2016 and was given the task of reviving Knowledge Box, which also houses academic papers, dissertations, theses and conference presentations.

Many other universities have repositories like Knowledge Box and ways to publish research. What differentiates Georgia College, Walker and Townes think, is its longtime emphasis on undergraduate research. Attention on this type of research is growing nationwide.

Georgia College already had a long history of supporting undergraduate research. With the help of Digital Archivist Holly Croft, Towne tackled the job of digitalizing 20 past issues of “The Corinthian.” This placed a huge amount of undergraduate research––and a variety of topics––online for people to peruse.

Research is submitted from all disciplines at Georgia College, especially from health sciences, history, education, literature and natural sciences. Education and literature mark some of the most downloaded topics.

In 2020, favorite topics read by government workers were about the effects of dehydration on cognitive functioning; effective prison management; the relationship between teacher morale and school climate; and comparison of two Machiavelli literary works.

Old print copies of "The Corinthian."
Old print copies of "The Corinthian."

The top searched Georgia College paper is about middle school students not completing homework assignments. It’s been downloaded 12,000 times since 2018. Another popular subject was being a woman from Shakespeare’s patriarchal perspective.

“The popularity of ‘The Corinthian’ speaks to the quality of our students’ research, as well as its relevancy,” Walker said. “It speaks to the responsiveness to our student research and the timeliness of it. Clearly, it resonates with a wider audience.”

This research is free to the public, not inaccessible behind “paywalls,” Walker said. That may be why readers in developing nations read the 2020 edition.

Six new countries joined the list of readers in 2020: Afghanistan, Aruba, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Tonga, Vanuatu and Tajikistan. According to a report on the 2020 Corinthian, a reader in Kabul, Afghanistan, found “The Effectiveness of Teaching Math Using Manipulatives in the Fourth Grade at Southwest Laurens Elementary” by Denise D. Taylor, ’88, particularly interesting.

Readership of “The Corinthian” infers Georgia College students are impacting communities around them and beyond. It’s difficult to tie Georgia College research directly to U.S. policies. But Walker said, “We do know our research is being ready by policymakers. Opportunity’s there for influence.”

Townes continues to marvel that the smallest content in Knowledge Box––“The Corinthian”––garners “exponentially” more attention than anything else there. It also provides students with real-world experience, she said. The publication is edited by a student.

Senior Emma Cargile.
Senior Emma Cargile.
This year, that editor is senior English major Emma Cargile of Brunswick. Cargile graduates this December with a minor in rhetoric. On “The Corinthian,” she does everything from sending invites to faculty reviewers to solicitating the art department for cover art. She sends acceptance and denial letters, copy edits all submissions, then uploads everything to Knowledge Box.

“Because ‘The Corinthian’ is run by students and showcases student research,” Cargile said, “there’s so much potential for this publication to take the shape of what students who are passionate about publishing want it to be.”

Cargile hopes more students will take positions at "The Corinthian,” because it offers great experience in copyediting, design, journal layout and digital publishing. She plans to pursue a master’s in fine arts. She’s confident the skills she acquired as “Corinthian” editor will carry her through graduate school into the working world of editing and publishing.

Because ‘The Corinthian’ is run by students and showcases student research, there’s so much potential for this publication to take the shape of what students who are passionate about publishing want it to be.
– Emma Cargile
Dr. Scott Butler, professor of public health, believes in the importance of “The Corinthian” too. He’s had seven students publish research in it, and the experience helped advance their careers.

Officials at Emory University pointed to alumna Kathleen Ragan’s manuscript on “Public Health Impact of the HPV Vaccinations: A Research Update” as the final impetus for her admission. Ragan graduated in 2010 from Georgia College and currently works at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta.

Dayne Sullivan, ’11, was told his “Crohn’s Disease: An Elementary Review” was the reason he was accepted out of hundreds of applicants at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona.

Butler was so impressed with alumna Eliana Johnson’s manuscript, “Sex Education in the United States: Implications for Sexual Health and Health Policy,” he now makes it required reading for one of his courses. Johnson graduated in 2019. Research in “The Corinthian” helped her gain acceptance to the graduate program in counseling at West Texas A&M University.

Participating in “The Corinthian” mirrors what students would experience at the graduate level, publishing in a traditional journal. Students graduate from Georgia College knowing what it’s like to submit research and get feedback from a reviewer. They know what it’s like to establish themselves in a community of scholars.

What we’ve been able to achieve with ‘The Corinthian’ helps us show the library in a different light on many levels. It makes student research available. It highlights the librarian’s knowledge, skills and abilities. It gives students experiential learning. It supports undergraduate research, the focus of our university. It helps sell the university’s brand.
– Walker

“Plus, it’s a wonderful way for us to meet our obligation as a public liberal arts university,” she said. “It puts the library and the librarian at the center of that work.