GW Student Journal Celebrates 20 Years, Far Reach of Articles Online

September 11, 2013

For two decades, students earning their masters of public administration and masters of public policy degrees at the George Washington University have been invited to submit articles highlighting their graduate research and analysis to Policy Perspectives, a student-run journal published by the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration in collaboration with the GW Libraries.

“How exciting to know what started out as an idea during my first semester as an MPA student at the George Washington University is now a well-established student run journal,” said Celeste Murphy Greene, MPA ’94, the Founding Editor of the journal at the release of its 20th volume on May 3.

The journal has always explored public administration and public policy in action. The first issue’s articles examined economic opportunity on Indian reservations, U.S. nuclear waste policy and lessons from the Savings and Loan disaster.

Over the years, topics explored include welfare reform, caring for Medicaid patients with HIV/AIDS, e-government and the changing roles of public administrators, free trade and the widening gap between rich and poor countries, emergency appropriations following the September 11 attacks and retirement of the baby boom generation.

“Policy Perspectives provides students with a unique opportunity to contribute to a publication and also gain valuable editing experience,” said Anne Berry (MPP, ’13) the editor-in-chief of the 20th volume.

All current students and alumni of the Trachtenberg School are invited to submit an article for publication. The article submissions are often papers that were written for classes during the previous year. The editing process provides authors with an opportunity to work closely with an editorial team of classmates and faculty reviewers who provide subject matter expertise to refine the papers for publication.

Each article goes through several drafts with peer editors and faculty reviewers providing feedback to the author. The first step in the process is the content edit, which focuses on improving the clarity of the article by providing suggestions about its organization, structure, and presentation.  There are several different iterations of the content edit. Once the article is in near final form, the next stage of the editorial process is fact checking to ensure that the cited information is accurately presented. Finally, the article is proofread for grammatical errors.

Since 2009, Policy Perspectives has appeared in its traditional print format and as an online, open-access publication – meaning that the contents are freely available on the journal’s website, www.policy-perspectives.org. Along with two other journals, Policy Perspectives represents GW Libraries’ first foray into open-access publishing, setting a precedent for future research projects at the university.

Each Policy Perspectives article receives a DOI (digital object identifier), which guarantees stable and enduring online access. In addition to putting the new content online every year, the GW Libraries have digitized all the back issues of Policy Perspectives, making the entirety of the journal's 20-year print run accessible to researchers. The articles are findable in Google Scholar, and usage statistics from the journal website suggest that they are widely read.

“As a journal concerned with public policy, Policy Perspectives is an ideal case for open access. The authors aim to reach not only their fellow academics, but also policy-makers and the public at large,” said Dolsy Smith, one of the librarians who work closely with the journal’s editors to put each issue online. “One of the most popular articles is a study of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project.  It’s been downloaded more than 2,500 times, and I can imagine that it’s been read by people beyond the academic community.”

All twenty years of the journal can be explored in hard copy and online. The topics covered have varied widely, but each volume has shown how public policy and public administration theories and frameworks apply to real-world issues and challenges. Each volume contains solid research and suggestions for improving systems and influencing change.