Frequently asked questions

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What scientific areas are accepted? Does JEI only accept experiment/inquiry-based articles, or can students submit other types of work?

All hypothesis-driven experimental research is acceptable. This includes, but is not limited to: life sciences, physics, chemistry, health, psychology, and physiology. Engineering and mathematics articles are also accepted as long as there is a clear question and hypothesis being tested.

JEI only accepts scientific research that the authors conducted themselves; students cannot submit work that they were not physically involved in conducting. We do not publish articles that review a scientific topic, or papers presenting a project proposal or invention.

Are there deadlines for submission?

There are no deadlines for submission. We accept submissions on a rolling basis. This means that as manuscripts are accepted for publication they will be immediately formatted by the editors and published online.

Who can submit a student manuscript?

Any middle school or high school student can publish in JEI. Access to university labs and advanced techniques are not required. We are not judging submissions based on the “cutting edge” nature of the research. Rather, we encourage any research that tests a reasonable hypothesis.

A school teacher, parent, or college/university professor must serve as a senior author and submit on behalf of the student authors. In no instances should a student submit his/her own manuscript.

If the student's research was conducted in collaboration with a research laboratory, the student MUST have approval from the professor/principal investigator to submit their results for publication in JEI.

What is the age limit for student authors?

Students must be in middle or high school (6-12th grade) at the time of the original submission. It is perfectly acceptable for a student to graduate before the paper is published, so long as the research was performed during his or her time in middle or high school and the paper was submitted before graduating.

How much of a role should the teacher/mentor play in the scientific process and writing of the manuscript?

The teacher/mentor’s job is to guide the students through the scientific process and help the students in designing the appropriate experiments. The teacher/mentor should not be performing the experiments, although it is acceptable for a teacher/mentor to help students with experiments. Students should analyze the data and draw conclusions based on the results. Students should also be the primary writers of the manuscript.

Will the standards be grade-level specific?

Yes; when deciding on acceptance, the editors will take into account the grade level of the author. However, we expect well-thought out experiments and hypothesis driven research from all students, regardless of grade. The school level, middle or high, will be noted on articles.

Will all papers be accepted?

No, we cannot accept manuscripts that have scientifically inaccurate claims, false data, or questionable experimental techniques. Previously published data is not acceptable for re-publication (unless it is cited and used as background information). If experiments are repeated from previous publications, significantly new hypothesis that extends the original findings is required for an article to be considered a “new” submission. It is at the editor’s discretion to determine if the article is sufficiently “new” to warrant publication.

The reviewers and editors will make every effort to address these issues in the reviews and if authors can make appropriate changes then the manuscript will be considered for publication. We will reject any submissions where plagiarism is detected.

How long will the review process take? When can I expect to get feedback?

After receiving a submission, a team of JEI Editors will first read the submission to determine if it is in the correct format for a scientific manuscript. If not, the editors will provide a list of suggestions to improve the formatting and presentation of the manuscript typically within two weeks of the initial submission.

Once the manuscript is in the correct format, it will proceed to the review stage. In this stage, JEI reviewers will read the manuscript and provide suggestions to improve both the scientific project and the manuscript itself. These suggestions will be compiled by the editors and sent to the authors within 6-8 weeks, depending on the influx of submissions at the time. May through September and December through January tend to be a busy time for JEI and you may experience some delays.

What does it mean to be “accepted pending presentation changes” vs. “accepted pending scientific and presentation changes”? What kind of changes might be required? What if the authors cannot make these adjustments?

To be accepted pending presentation changes will generally require changes in the text, either to make the writing grammatically clearer or to make scientific aspects of the manuscript more accurate. Scientific revisions require an additional experiment(s) to support the conclusions, for example a missing control experiment to ensure that the changes authors saw are not a result of a confounding variable. If authors cannot make all of the suggested changes, then they should include the reasons for not making the changes on a cover letter to be submitted with the resubmission.

If it is physically impossible for the authors to perform the extra experiments (the student has graduated or no longer has access to some of the materials required for the experiment), then they should discuss it extensively in the discussion section as a limitation of the study. It will be at the discretion of the editor to determine if the conclusions can be accepted without the scientific revision.

Who reviews the manuscripts? How does JEI ensure that the reviews are professional and helpful to the student?

Graduate students and other professional scientists with advanced degrees with substantial research experience will review the manuscripts. Editors will collect and look at the reviews for each article to ensure that the reviews are professional and instructive. The editors will make the final decision as to which changes will be required and which changes are unnecessary.

What percentage of submissions are accepted for publication the first time they are submitted? What percentage of papers are accepted for publication after revision and resubmission?

We will work with every author to publish their manuscript with JEI so long as the required revisions and resubmissions are completed. The percentage of initial submissions that are accepted into scientific review right away varies and is primarily determined by whether the authors have followed our submission guidelines, or not.

The primary reason for manuscript loss during the review and publication process is failure of the authors to resubmit their manuscript. In very rare cases JEI will have to reject manuscripts to maintain scientific integrity, but this will be communicated to the authors in a way that still allows it to be a learning experience.

Does it cost money to submit? Is there a subscription fee?

JEI is completely free for students! It is an important founding philosophy of JEI that the scientific advice and publishing experience we offer should be accessible to any aspiring young scientists. In order to keep our services free though, we are accepting donations from people interested in our cause

Who owns the copyright to the publications in JEI? Can the authors submit the same article or portions of the publication for other journals?

JEI strives to provide students with as much access to original scientific writing as possible. With this in mind, all submissions are covered by an attribution non-commercial, no derivative license. This means that anyone is free to share, copy and distribute an unaltered article for non-commercial purposes.

What is “hypothesis-based science”?

Hypothesis-based science simply means that the research is focused on a particular question and you, as a scientist, have an educated guess as to what you think the answer to that question might be. A hypothesis should be based on prior knowledge about the question (this knowledge should be cited in your manuscript) which supports your reasoning for making the hypothesis. The experiments should be designed to test the question and produce results that either support the hypothesis or suggest that the hypothesis is incorrect. Engineering projects that build a prototype can still be hypothesis-based if the prototype is used to test a question. For example, it is acceptable to build a device, make a hypothesis about what tasks the device is capable of performing and then test that hypothesis.

What if my results don’t support my hypothesis?

That’s science! If a result is surprising, the authors should address this in the discussion and suggest why it may have turned out this way. If it is apparent that a manuscript has results that are made to “fit” the hypothesis, that manuscript will be declined.

Does JEI sponsor student research projects?

Unfortunately, JEI does not have the ability to sponsor student research projects.

How can a high school student get involved with academic research?

It can obviously be a little daunting to enter the unfamiliar world of scientific research. Fortunately, many professors are willing to take in and teach young and enthusiastic students. The first thing to do is find an area of science that interests you. Look around at local colleges and universities for professors that have the same interest (a simple Google search with the college/university name and science subject would suffice). Then send that professor an email. Not all of them will respond, but you may find the one willing to take on a young student.

What kind of file should the manuscript be submitted in?

The text of the manuscript should be submitted in Word format (.doc or .docx).

Should figures and/or tables be embedded in the text or included as separate files?

Both! Figures should be submitted at the end of your Word document above their respective caption after the references and submitted as individual image files (.jpg, .tif, or .png). Tables should be placed with Figures in your Word document and be in an editable format (i.e., no pictures of tables). The total number of Figures and Tables may not exceed 8.

What font size should I use? Single or double-spaced?

The font should be Arial, size 11, with 1.5 line spacing and 1 inch margins.

Do all references need to be primary sources?

A primary source is another scientific research article. We expect that some references should be primary sources. However, we will also accept other reputable sources and some online sources.

How should references be cited in JEI publications?

Sources should be referenced in MLA format in order of citation within the document. In the text references should be noted by which number citation it is within parentheses. For example, the 3rd reference in the text should be noted by a (3).

How should JEI articles be referenced by others?

JEI articles should be referenced by whichever format is required for that particular document.