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Undergraduate Publishes In Prestigious Digital Humanities Journal

SOCORRO, N.M. September 15, 2011 – Management student Jacoby Boles, , is the author of a recently published webtext in the online journal Kairos.  Boles is the editorial assistant for the ejournal Xchanges, which is produced at New Mexico Tech.

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Jacoby Boles and Dr. Julianne Newmark review the webtext that was recently published in Kairos, a digital humanities journal.
Xchanges: A Student-Centric Journal
Boles’s Kairos articles focuses on New MexicoTech’s  writing, rhetoric, and technical communication ejournal, Xchanges.  Dr. Julianne Newmark, assistant professor of English at Tech, and her students publish two issues of Xchanges each year. The fall issue highlights graduate-level research. The spring issue features theses and research projects of upper-level undergraduate students.

During the fall 2010 semester, students in the TC 371 class had one large project – redesign the website and publish the November 2010 issue of the journal. In Spring 2011, student Jacoby Boles served as Newmark’s editorial assistant, publishing the issue currently featured on the Xchanges website. Newmark said Boles’ efforts kept the journal on schedule: “Jacoby is a very hard worker with significant creative talents.”  She added, “As an editorial assistant, he showed significant dedication to the technical components of the journal, such as creating web menus and making sure links were operational, as well as to the larger issue of the journal’s future and reputation.  That he is now a published author in a leading digital humanities journal, Kairos, is something about which everyone in the NMT community should be proud. I know I am!  And I am glad he represents the journal Xchanges and its mission so positively as well.”

Newmark started Xchanges as a graduate student at Wayne State University in Detroit in 2001. She also organized the Y/X Conference for interdisciplinary American studies. From 2001 to 2005, she oversaw the publication of nine issues and organized five conferences. When she left Wayne State to take a professorship at New Mexico Tech, the conference and the journal floundered. Her colleagues in Detroit gave their blessing for Newmark to move Xchanges to Tech. After a hiatus of nearly five years, Xchanges 6.1 in March 2010 marked the resurrection of the online journal and its reinvention as a publication focusing on writing, rhetoric, and technical communication, areas that harmonize well with the research and teaching interests of faculty and students at New Mexico Tech

Boles’s article Xchanges Journal: Web Journal As the Writing Classroom,” focuses on his work as the editorial assistant to Dr. Julianne Newmark, managing editor of the ejournal Xchanges. Boles also wrote about the experiences of Technical Communication students at New Mexico Tech who collaboratively completed one issue of the journal Xchanges and the redesign of the journal’s website during the fall 2010 course, TC 371 Publications Management.

Kairos is a leading journal focusing on digital and multimodal communication with an international readership of 45,000 readers per month. Boles’s webtext – a website he designed that presents research information of the rigor of a scholarly print article in harmony with dynamic images – was selected for publication in the undergraduate issue as a result of double-blind review.

Boles employed scholarly research about digital publications and examined trends among academic journals that are seeking to transition from print to digital formats. He showcased Xchanges as a journal that is not only trying to match these trends, but is trying to set new precedents and find new solutions in the academic ejournal arena.

Boles worked as a directed study student with Newmark in the semester following his completion of the “Publications Management” course. He then saw another issue of Xchanges through to release. Simultaneously, he researched other journals’ practices and drew conclusions about Xchanges’s presence – within the Tech community , among other international online journals that focus on technical communication, writing, and rhetoric, and as a journal that is unique in its reliance on undergraduate students as production staff and as authors of work the journal publishes in its spring issue each year (fall issues are graduate-student-research issues).While helping Newmark complete both copyediting and technical editing tasks for the journal issue, Boles designed his Kairos-submission website and wrote numerous drafts of his research findings with the goal of submitting his final webtext to Kairos in March.

Boles’ article is divided into sections: Goals, Prior Knowledge, Making the Issue, Managing the Project, and Beyond the Journal. Each section is one webpage, which is intended to allow readers or libraries to print the article – a practice also followed with Xchanges. His article examines several aspects of the production process and offers analysis of the Technical Communications 371 class as an instructional exercise for publishing.

Newmark provided the introduction for Boles’s article, in which she wrote that his text offers “what only a student can provide: direct commentary on the TC 371 course as a hands-on learning experience for undergraduate students.”

Boles’s conclusions are of greatest significance for those who will read his article about ejournals in Kairos, which is also an ejournal, Newmark said. In the article, Boles dwells upon the importance of securing quality content for each issue of Xchanges. He said in an interview that, “There’s a glut of information on the Internet. ... Tons of people are writing bad articles. It’s easy to publish online. There’s no unified body to say what’s good and what’s not good. It’s hard to stand out from that glut and find good content for your own publication.”

That glut of often dubious information has led to a degree of skepticism toward online journals, Boles said. Therefore, an online journal must strive for rigorous evaluation of submissions. Xchanges relies on an independent board of reviewers, comprised of top academics in writing, rhetoric, and technical communication from universities across the country.

In his webtext, Boles wrote, “Quality writing begets quality evaluation. Or your journal is only as good as the work it publishes. So we decided that by producing a journal of repute and lasting quality, which is our goal at Xchanges, we must foster great writing from our authors.” In his Kairos webtext, Boles also accentuated the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and communication among journal staff members. He also wrote about the digital production room and the file-sharing platforms that create smooth workflow.

Of the TC 371 course, which is a significant focus of his Kairos piece, Boles wrote, “The greatest strength of this course and of using the web-journal-production environment as the classroom environment is in teaching students skills which are beneficial across disciplines and settings.” In a multimedia journal like Kairos, which features writing from students and professionals from institutions around the world, Boles’s webtext stands as a strong representation of the high quality of research produced by Tech undergraduates and the collaborative projects – like Xchanges – to which Tech faculty and students are dedicated, Newmark said.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech