Editing the Post-Graduate Research Magazine Frontier – by Felicity Easton (PhD researcher)

The University of Leicester boasts a diverse range of research schools and departments. The life of a post-graduate researcher is usually an inconspicuous one. Day to day working away within our department, we impress our progress on colleagues who can elicit appreciation being familiar with our research frontiers and tribulations. But what is happening elsewhere in your college? Or even further afield on campus? Have you ever wondered what a PhD in Archaeology and Mummification involves? Or what questions are being asked about the future of the universe?

Frontier is unique to the University of Leicester. A publication that aims to uncover the work that goes on behind closed post-graduate office doors. Aiming to expose the projects being undertaken by over 1700 PGR students currently at the university, so that the research can be shared and appreciated by all PhD students across all schools of the University.
I am an editor for the Frontier magazine and here is a brief ‘behind the scenes’ of what is involved in creating an issue.

First thing is first- we need writers….
Guaranteed publication in a well put together research magazine is every PhD student’s dream, surely?! Well, in reality it can be quite a bit of convincing to get busy, busy PhD students to take the time out of their research day (and time from the pub in their evenings) to write an article for a magazine that is just making itself known. The main job of the new editorial team has been to get out in the PGR community and ensure that the importance behind Frontier is known. Advertising research by PhD students, for PhD students. Promoting communications and collaborations between departments that might not have happened without it! (Our main selling point- It looks great on your CV 😉 )
What do I need to do?

The most common question asked to the editors, in company with; what should I write about? And how long does it have to be? The next step of being an editor is to encourage writers to get the words flowing. Not to mention “chasing up” the people that might have agreed to write for the magazine at PubhD – they will occasionally need their sober selves reminding what their more forthcoming two-pints-down selves have agreed to.

A bit of direction… sometimes needed to help shape the articles. PhD students are used to academic writing for abstracts and maybe even publications but it takes a while to get out of our specialist lingo and write as if we were explaining to someone who hasn’t heard about this subject since GCSE, but ensuring you get to the important juicy bits of the research.
Anything else?

After drafting and redrafting (and maybe redrafting some more) it’s time to concentrate on content. The all-important aesthetics and layout of the magazine. Currently there is a small editorial team- so the graphics for the Front Cover came down to me! *Insert weekend polishing off my Photoshop skills*. The next task is obtaining images whilst ensuring we aren’t breaching any copyrights – the magazine budget doesn’t allow for law suits.

HOT OFF THE PRESS. Finally, it’s time to put it all together and get the issue printed. It’s a relief handing it over but there is always an afterthought (or ten)- did we include everything? Will everyone like it? Should that image be in there? It goes on until an email arrives: “Your order is ready for collection from print services” Relief. Pride. Hurrah! It’s wonderful 24-page certificate representing the hard work committed by you and your team. The best job is most definitely saved for last- distributing it to the students researching at the University.

Until next time… Frontier Issue 3 arrives in Autumn 2016!
If you would like to contribute to a future issue- being a writer or editor contact: frontier@le.ac.uk.
Felicity Easton- Frontier Magazine Editor.

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Martin Coffey

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Career Management Skills Developer, Researcher Development Team.

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