Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.
Presentation as Online Magazine: The presentation of your own independent research will be in the form of an online magazine. The aim of this assignment is for you to develop and practice your critical thinking skills, your critical analysis skills, your skills to give feedback, and your editing skills.
The academic magazine US Religion and Politics (https://usreligion.wordpress.com), established in 2013 has heard about your expertise in religion and politics in the US and has invited you to write a contribution for its third issue, Vol 3, 2015/16. Additionally, the editors have asked you to act as peer reviewer for the articles they aim to publish. You are excited about this opportunity because it allows you to interact with the broader academic community, present your research to a broader (and interested non-academic) audience, and gain some skills and expertise you can put on your CV (which you plan to revise anyway for the upcoming “meat market” a.k.a. hiring season).
The editors have asked you to find/comment/critically analyze an image, a video clip, a political cartoon (or shoot your own image(s)/video(s) and comment on them) related to religion and politics in the US. The visual source will be posted online / linked with your text. The editors have therefore asked you to be aware of possible copyright issues because they do not have the financial resources to pay for copyright fees or go to court over copyright issues. In case you interview/photograph/film people, make sure they are aware what you need the material for and that they are ok with having the material posted online. The editors appreciate your cooperation and your respect for privacy and of intellectual property. The production schedule is very tight and the editors have also asked you to be aware of the deadlines (they do apologize for the tight deadlines but this is something completely out of their control).
The editors have asked you to submit the first version of your contribution (750-1000 words) through turnitin no later than 4 Nov 2015, 4pm. Your anonymized contribution will then be sent out for anonymous peer-review.
You will also receive an anonymized contribution for peer-review. The peer reviews for US Religion and Politics are typically 300-500 words in length each and need to be submitted by 19 Nov 2015, 4pm. Please submit your peer review through turnitin AND as PDF on eBridge by 19 Nov 2015, 4pm. IMPORTANT: Please attach the original article to your peer review.
After all peer reviews have been submitted, you will receive the peer review for your own contribution. Based on the peer review, you will revise your contribution and submit the final version on https://usreligion.wordpress.com, through turnitin AND as PDF copy on eBridge by 2 Dec 2015, 4pm.
You will be given Contributor Access to the magazine at https://usreligion.wordpress.com. You need to familiarize yourself with the wordpress environment and upload/layout/edit/submit the final version of your post on WordPress. It is best to play around with wordpress with your first draft. You can click on save/publish and always go back and edit the post until the deadline. The posts will only go live only after they have been approved by the blog administrator, so there is nothing to worry about. The address for the blog is: https://usreligion.wordpress.com.
Online Texts & Creativity: When writing your magazine contribution, be funny, witty, sharp-tongued, creative, inspiring. A magazine contribution should spike the reader’s interest. As such, this is a different “genre” requiring a different writing style than a term paper. Also, make use of the possibilities online texts provide: using multimedia content, linking articles, key words, etc. Reference your sources, but be creative about it. Most importantly, the magazine contribution should be a playground: a forum to test ideas and an opportunity to play with arguments.
Important – Academic Research: While the magazine aims to address a broader audience (science2public), it has an academic background nonetheless. As such, you are expected to provide evidence for your claims and reference your sources appropriately. Two to three academic sources are being considered adequate for an assignment like this. Similarly, as peer reviewer, you will need to check the accuracy of the author’s claim and provide feedback on the contribution as well as aspects the author might have missed. Therefore, you are expected to familiarize yourself with the sources the author has used and you are expected to do additional readings so that you can provide meaningful and informed feedback. The journal will provide you with guiding questions for your peer review to streamline and standardize the peer review process.
Why are we writing, re-writing, and peer reviewing in a class on US religion and politics? Peer reviewing is a challenging activity that brings a lot of responsibility with it. Writing a peer review will help you a) to critically analyze someone else’s argument. You will learn to appreciate the good parts and push the author on issues that might be less clear; b) learning to understand what makes an argument strong or weak will help you when you write your own papers and think about our own arguments.
The Challenge? The challenge in this assignment is probably that the contribution should have an academic background but appeal to a broader audience nonetheless. When you peer review someone’s contribution, engage with the contribution, play around with the ideas, have fun with it.
What to do, when the contribution you receive for peer review is poorly written? IF you receive a poorly written contribution, first and foremost appreciate the contribution for what it is and the argument it is trying to make. Do not dismiss your colleague’s time and effort to put something valuable together. Appreciate the positives and provide helpful feedback on what you think can be improved. In case the contribution is incomplete or obviously poorly researched (e.g. no academic sources), check back with me and we will take it from there.
What to do, when the peer review you receive is poorly written, vague, unhelpful? As author, it is ultimately your decision which aspects of a peer review you act upon. If you disagree with the peer reviewer or if you think that the peer reviewer has misunderstood your argument, go back to your paper and try to think of ways to make your argument more explicit.
Things to think about as author: Choose your nickname you wish your online contribution to appear under wisely. Everything you post online under your actual name (or a nickname which can easily be linked to your actual name) contributes to your digital footprint. Ask yourself what you want to be part of this digital footprint. I am perfectly happy with having the contributions posted anonymously / with a fantasy screen name. We can discuss the details in class.