Focus and Scope

Young Scholars in Writing: Undergraduate Research in Writing and Rhetoric is an international peer-reviewed journal. It publishes research and theoretical articles by undergraduates of all majors and years on the subjects of rhetoric, writingwriters, discourse, language, and related topics.

Journal Mission 

Young Scholars in Writing is guided by these central beliefs: (1) that research can and should be a crucial component of rhetorical education and (2) that undergraduates engaged in research about writing and rhetoric should have opportunities to share their work with a broader audience of students, scholars, and teachers through national publication.

Young Scholars in Writing is intended to be a resource for students engaged in undergraduate research and for scholars who are interested in new advances or theories relating to language, composition, rhetoric, and related fields.


Peer Review Process

The editorial staff at Young Scholars in Writing is committed to a professional, efficient, and fair review process. So you know what to expect when you submit an essay for publication consideration, we have outlined our procedures below.

All submissions are first read by the editor, who sends papers that seem to fit the journal’s general specifications to one or two peer reviewers, either undergraduate students or student authors who have previously published in Young Scholars.  If they recommend a paper for revision or publication, it is sent to a faculty member from the Editorial Board (a “Faculty Advising Editor,” or FAE)—comprised of scholars in Rhetoric and Composition from around the world—for the next reading.

At this point, the FAE makes one of three decisions: Accept; Accept Contingent on Revisions; or Decline.

In our 14-volume history, only one student’s essay has been accepted without revisions. “Accept Contingent on Revisions” is therefore the common response for essays we publish. It is like the “Revise and Resubmit” response that even well-known scholars receive from other professional scholarly journals they submit work to, with one difference. In faculty journals, “Revise and Resubmit” does not mean that the journal will necessarily accept the revised submission. However, at Young Scholars, we commit to publishing an article if the writer does put in sufficient time and effort to revise the draft based on the Faculty Advising Editor’s suggestions. If your submission receives an "Accept with Revisions" response, our printing it is contingent on you actually making the revisions you negotiate with your FAE, but you can take this response to mean "Yes! We want to publish your piece!" This is a huge accomplishment, even though it means more work awaits you. 

Publishing in Young Scholars is hard, challenging work, but it is worth the effort. Here’s what some of our former contributors say about the review and publication process:

YSW’s revision process taught me a great deal about concision, clarity and structure. The feedback I received, and the editing process that followed, were both highly valuable experiences. The lessons learned throughout the process continue to benefit my writing. -Patrick Belanger

When I first submitted my paper to YSW, it was the product of the longest and most serious research I had ever conducted, and at the time I thought that it was the best piece of writing I had ever produced.  However, working with the editors of YSW to revise my paper so that it could be published helped me to see my paper from a new perspective and allowed me to turn a promising piece of writing into an even better article.  I put more time and effort into that revision than ever before, but the editors' comments and suggestions were specific and incredibly helpful.  Ultimately, I learned a great deal about the kind of serious revision necessary to produce a really strong 
article and to publish in a scholarly setting.
 -Alicia Brazeau

The revisions I did on my piece for YSW were relatively simple, yet they transformed my work from being geared toward a very small, specific audience (the English Department at my university) to one that is now accessible by a wide range of readers.  The journal's editors were very helpful throughout the revision process, offering comments and suggestions every step of the way.  Everyone at YSW with whom I worked were always positive and supportive, and they couldn't have been easier to work with, not just in terms of editorial considerations, but of scheduling, as well.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to have worked with YSW. 
-Bill Chewning

From beginning to end, my experience with the Young Scholars in Writing Editorial Board was exciting and enlightening.  After finishing the paper and working on it again for a conference presentation, my co-authors and I felt somewhat burned out on the piece, but hearing about the editors’ interest in our work gave us new energy.  Receiving feedback from fresh eyes offered us new perspective and ideas on how tostrengthen our claims.  Our [FAE] proved continually helpful and encouraging as we worked through the board’s revision suggestions and resubmitted for more comments. After substantial changes and additional discussion, we felt proud of our hard work and our final product.  I could not have wished for a better experience for my first academic publication! -Ruth Johnson

When I received the initial "revise and resubmit" response, I was both thrilled with the possibility of publication and decidedly not-thrilled about the revision process. Yet immediately upon receiving suggestions from Dr. Amy Robillard, I realized that this was an opportunity to delve in so much deeper and to create something much fuller and richer. ... I found that not only did I uncover new ideas and ways of thinking about my subject, I also learned invaluable lessons in extensive editing for cohesion, flow, and clarity. With her mentorship, what started out as a pretty good idea somewhat supported by research became a solidly presented and supported thesis.  -Lucy Marrero

The editor-writer relationship was one that I reveled in, because critical analysis and editorial insights are the best way to know your own work and how to improve it through the abilities of others. Indeed, I have learned that revisions are not to be taken lightly and that they are arduous yet critical components of the writing process, which push a text toward - but, alas, never to - perfection. -Andrew Noel

Where does one begin to describe the benefits of submitting a paper to YSW? Readers see the finished product: undergraduate research, bold analysis and flowing transitions from cover to blue cover. We, the submitters, recall the bits and pieces that fell upon the proverbial cutting room floor. I think we all experienced growth by interacting with editors, mentors and peers. A valuable experience I would gladly repeat! -Lauren Petrillo

Publication Frequency

Young Scholars in Writing publishes one volume per year, typically in late January or early February. The journal provides a limited print run for contributors and for research professionals in Rhetoric & Composition around the world. Once the print version of the journal has mailed, the online version is released, usually in late February. In most cases the online version is identical to the print version. Beginning with Volume 13, it is possible for the journal to accept graphics-intensive articles that can be published online only (e.g., pieces that require color publication).

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Research Ethics and IRB Clearance for Research Involving Human Participants

Young Scholars in Writing accepts articles reporting on primary research involving human participants only if that research has been structured to safeguard the rights and privacy of research participants. Undergraduate researchers must discuss ethical conduct of research and their institution's research ethics guidelines with their faculty mentors. YSW requires good-faith certification from authors that research involving human participants has been conducted according to their institution's research ethics and IRB (institutional review board) guidelines. 
Undergraduate researchers should also consult the Conference on College Composition and Communication's Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Research in Composition Studies:


Montana State University is the home institution for Young Scholars in Writing and its sole financial sponsor.

Sources of Support

Office of the Provost 
Support for print publication of journal. 

Office of Research and Economic Development 
Support for print publication of journal. 

Montana State University Library 
Open Journal System implementation of journal website and electronic version. 

College of Letters and Science 
Support for print publication of journal. 

Liberal Studies Program 
Support for undergraduate peer reviewer course. 

Department of English 
Support for undergraduate peer reviewer course. 

Journal History

Young Scholars in Writing: Undergraduate Research in Writing and Rhetoric was founded in 2003 by Profs. Laurie Grobman and Candace Spigelman at Penn State University - Berks. In their inaugural editors' introduction they wrote, 

"We hope that Young Scholars in Writing will offer new insights to undergraduate students of writing and rhetoric and that they will find in these published articles new ways of making sense of the field. We hope too that this research by fellow students will become a basis for their own research, for the articles may serve as credible sources to consult and as invitations for further investigation. Ultimately, we hope that the prospect of publication will inspire other young scholars to pursue serious research projects. Likewise, we hope that teachers will turn to these articles in their teaching. We hope that Young Scholars in Writing will initiate lively and engaged classroom conversations and written responses by students engaged in similar kinds of work."

Profs. Grobman and Spigelman co-edited the first two volumes of YSW. With Prof. Spigelman's passing, Prof. Grobman assumed sole editorship of the journal for Vols. 3-6 (2005-2008). For volumes 3 and 4, Prof. Grobman was assisted by Profs. Jane Greer and Amy Robillard in helping writers revise accepted pieces for publication. In response to a steadily increasing number of submissions to the journal, beginning with volume 5 Prof. Grobman formally established the journal's editorial board and shared faculty reviewing system which continues in place today.

In 2006, Amy Robillard published a College English article titled "Young Scholars Affecting Composition: A Challenge to Disciplinary Citation Practices," in which she explored the impact YSW articles were having not just on fellow students and the writing classroom, as anticipated in Grobman and Speigelman's first editorial, but also YSW's effect and potential future impacts on the field's professional scholarly practices. How might scholars in our field begin relying on YSW as a genuine source of scholarly production in rhetoric and composition? Through its history, the journal has strived to accept and produce articles that would indeed make such potential real. 

Volume 5 of the journal (2007) launched the journal's section for research conducted by students in first-year composition courses. Recognizing the increasing range of FYC curricula that assigned students small-scale primary research projects on writing, the journal's board agreed to create a space to publish the very best of this work which, written by the very newest of the "young scholars," might otherwise be overshadowed by the larger, more complex, and more experienced work often submitted by third- and fourth-year writing and rhetoric majors. Profs. Doug Downs and Shannon Carter served as the first co-editors of what became known as the "Spotlight on First-Year Writing." Profs. Heidi Estrem, Patti Hanlon-Baker, Holly Ryan, David Elder, Heather Bastian, and Angela Glotfelter have since served as co-editors of the Spotlight.

Prof. Jane Greer (University of Missouri-Kansas City) guest-edited Vol. 7 of the journal in 2009 and became Editor in 2010, producing volumes 8-12 during her tenure through 2014. Under her editorship, YSW came to its current mission statement: 

Young Scholars in Writing: Undergraduate Research in Writing and Rhetoric is a refereed journal dedicated to publishing research articles written by undergraduates in a wide variety of disciplines associated with rhetoric and writing. It is guided by these central beliefs: (1) that research can and should be a crucial component of rhetorical education and (2) that undergraduates engaged in research about writing and rhetoric should have opportunities to share their work with a broader audience of students, scholars, and teachers through national publication. Young Scholars in Writing is intended to be a resource for students engaged in undergraduate research and for scholars who are interested in new advances or theories relating to language, composition, rhetoric, and related fields.

Throughout the journal's history, it has included an active "Comment & Response" section which allows student readers of YSW to submit responses to previous articles. Supported by Prof. Sean O'Rourke for many years, it has also been edited by Profs. Susan Thomas, David Elder, and Jonathan Hunt.

YSW came to its third Editor, Prof. Doug Downs (Montana State University), in 2015, beginning with Volume 13. Prof. Downs edited and recreated the journal's online archive to be the journal's complete run.