The Muhlenberg Academic Review (MAR) is a peer-reviewed journal featuring the written works of Muhlenberg undergraduate students, including academic essays that cover a variety of disciplines and subjects. The journal is founded, edited and published by Muhlenberg’s Gamma Iota chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society.
“Muhlenberg’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta began in 1963, but in 1993, the chapter temporarily disbanded. I restarted the chapter, and I asked our first group of students to decide on some kind of project that could create identity and focus for us,” says Associate Professor of English Linda Miller, the faculty advisor for the MAR. She continues, “The students decided that they wanted to start an interdisciplinary academic journal. Our first MAR journal was published in Spring 2018 and we have published a Spring edition every year since then.”
This year, the journal is under the direction of Co-Editors-In-Chief Faith Maldonado ‘23 and Lily Magoon ‘24. Maldonado raves about what she describes as the “intellectual richness” of the MAR, stating that it “is an emblem of the liberal arts education, where voices from different areas of study are put into conversation with each other, and the threads that connect these wildly different papers are so interesting to notice! Last year’s edition of MAR, for example, had essays from all different disciplines—from public health, to economics, to theatre, to art history—but you’ll notice each of the papers are similarly concerned with assumptions of different societies, and they challenge readers to critique their own mindsets and greater social structures.”
“Last year’s edition of MAR, for example, had essays from all different disciplines—from public health, to economics, to theatre, to art history”
Magoon, who was offered positions in the English honor society and the MAR last year, expresses similar ideas as well as excitement for her first year as part of the MAR team: “It’s kind of hard to find places for academic writing to be published, so it’s a great opportunity for that, especially for those considering going to grad[uate] school or post-grad[uate] degrees in general… I’m really excited, I haven’t worked on this side of publishing things before, so it’s gonna be really fun.”
The co-editors-in-chief are responsible for interacting with the potential writers and determining the finalists. After receiving submissions, which are all made anonymous and numbered, Maldonado and Magoon assign the essays to their team of contributing editors, who span across several disciplines. They are responsible for reviewing the works they receive based on their knowledge within their departments. Assistant Professor of Anthropology Casey Miller, Ph.D, mentions, “Each essay is read by three students, two in the essay’s discipline and one by a reader outside the essay’s discipline,” while Maldonado identifies “originality, clarity, grammar” and more as some of the key criteria these readers look for.
When all essays have been read and reviewed, the co-editors-in-chief go over the essays and the scores they received from the contributing editors to decide on the finalists. The selected works will then be sent to Copy Editors and Senior Editors, Oyinkansola Adebajo ‘24 and Anna Bobok ‘23, who proofread and suggest changes to the authors. When the essays are finalized, Layout Editors Grace Alvarado ‘23 and Rebecca Zipper ‘23 format the journal and it is published. Also on the team this year are Co-Social Media and Business Managers Zev Lonner ‘24 and Peyton Sloan ‘23, who are currently working to advertise the MAR and encourage students to submit work through fundraisers, online posts, and more.
Sloan was very aware of how many essays were submitted to the MAR based on her work as a copy editor, which made getting published to the journal that year even more meaningful. “It felt very, very rewarding, and totally a redemption story,” she says, referring to how getting accepted into the MAR lifted her spirits after the same essay was rejected from the Sigma Tau Delta Conference. She continues, “Submit work that you’re proud of. Say if you submitted it before like I did and you didn’t get the results you wanted, but you still feel strongly that it is a good piece of work, submit it… be confident in your work.”
The Muhlenberg Academic Review is very selective, as it published 11 essays out of 70 submissions last year, but the MAR team affirms that this should not stop students from submitting their work. Magoon says, “I think people don’t tend to take advantage of the opportunity because they think their writing isn’t good enough for it, and that’s very rarely the case and should never be a reason you’re not submitting to something… if we’re trying to showcase the writing of Muhlenberg, then you’re here, you should be submitting your writing.”
“MAR is one of the most intelligent displays of diversity of thought at our school.”
For those who wish to have work published in the MAR, Maldonado and Magoon recommend reading through archived editions on their website for a sense of the skill level, sharing writing and asking for feedback, going to the Writing Center (where both editors and other members of the team work) and writing in a style that communicates the author’s genuine excitement about the topic and pride in their work. Submissions for the next edition of MAR are due on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Visit https://mar.bergbuilds.domains for more information.
Maldonado summarizes the impact and importance of this academic journal saying, “MAR is one of the most intelligent displays of diversity of thought at our school. It’s a microcosm of intellectual discourse, and in reading our peers’ well-researched and articulated contributions to their fields of study, we’re encouraged to engage deeper in our own academic pursuits.”