Students Lauren Denhard, Desislava Yordanova, Kira Zazzi, Jose Mejia, Timothy Shar, Julia Iseman, Tucker Hoeniges, Madison Mitchell, and professor Dr. Erin Jensen recently published an article titled “Engaging Undergraduate Student-Athletes in Research and Publication Opportunities.”
Undergraduate research and publishing have been shown to be beneficial to students and to lead to positive outcomes. Most of the current research on undergraduate research has not specifically focused on student-athletes and the unique challenges that they face in being involved in undergraduate research opportunities. As eight undergraduate student-athletes and one mentorship-focused college professor discovered, student athletes can be successful when engaging in undergraduate research and publishing. Such a project needs to have a mentor who has a good relationship with the students and can lead them through the process. Without the guidance, editing, and revising capabilities of that mentor, this article would not have been written. While all of the student-athlete co-authors contributed to the article, they needed the faculty mentor to keep them motivated and to bring their ideas and suggestions together into a cohesive article. It was the mentor who kept co-authors involved in every step of the process, but also the one who stayed up all night to finish the final edits on the article.
Despite some challenges around having all co-authors participate in the revision process or in contributing to the literature review, the overall benefits of the project certainly outweighed those issues. The co-authors expressed feeling more confidence in their writing abilities and their academic goals. They expressed appreciation for having an opportunity to learn about the research and publishing process and gaining information that would be useful for them in the future and for their post-graduation goals. Several co-authors decided to submit their own individual essays to a variety of undergraduate journals and are waiting to hear back. Other co-authors sought out writing opportunities through internships, writing for the newspaper, and deciding to pursue a minor in writing.
Student-athletes can succeed in undergraduate research and publication with the support and guidance of a faculty mentor who is committed to the process and is willing to put in the time and effort to help us through the process. Such benefits are both short- and long-term, and they are significant, ranging from contributing to students’ academic success and focus on graduate school, to increasing confidence in their writing, expanding their awareness of the academic research process and motivating them to become part of this process. Student-athletes should not be excluded from the process because of their perceived busy schedules; instead, they should be mentored and guided through that process.