Q&A with Editors-in-Chief Hilary Tsui & Mark Giles of the Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Cognitive Science

July 04, 2023

Editors-in-Chief of the Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Cognitive Science (CUJCS) Hilary Tsui and Mark Giles reflect on their involvement with the journal and their learning experiences.

1. Can you start by introducing yourselves?

Hilary: Hi, I’m Hilary (she/her)! I’m a fifth-year double majoring in psychology and communication. I also really like raccoons! (Even when they try to steal my keys.) When I’m not doing schoolwork or trying to get raccoons to love me, you can usually find me reading fiction, writing fiction, or listening to music.

Mark: My name is Mark, I'm in my last year in Cognitive Science at SFU. I enjoy playing music and chess in my spare time. I also enjoy reading philosophy and doing photography.

2. What interests you about cognitive science?

Hilary: I really like how vast this field is! I’m especially interested in cross-cultural or cross-linguistic differences in cognition – it’s kind of wild how our environment and language can have such an influence on how we think and understand our world. I also find twin studies really cool! It’s so fascinating how twins, or triplets, seem to be so cognitively connected even when out of the womb. I’m not a twin and I can’t imagine having a sibling so creepily in tune with you, haha. (Care to comment on the twin telepathy, Mark?)

Mark: As a broad and interdisciplinary field, cognitive science relates many seemingly unrelated fields in a very extraordinary and unexpected way. Seeing and experiencing these connections for oneself is like that of a stray magnet being thrown into a field of still spaced magnets, and seeing the subsequent colliding into one unified whole. Additionally my interest in metaphysics and philosophy of perception has given me many questions about the nature of reality, but very few answers. I found contemporary neuroscience, machine learning, and dynamical systems to be something that was mentioned much less than I found it should be. I found much more of these topics, as they related to these questions, to be mentioned in cognitive science courses and literature.

3. What inspired you to become the editors-in-chief for the journal?

Hilary: I actually didn’t know CUJCS was a thing until Mark told me about it! I thought it was such a cool idea because students deserve a place to showcase their hard work. When Mark told me that he was building a team to work on the next edition of the journal, I immediately asked if I could join. I started out helping Mark out on certain aspects of the journal, such as updating the website, but eventually I began running the day-to-day activities, such as arranging and leading meetings, keeping our team updated, handling the social media stuff, and communicating with our student authors/artists. 

Mark: As I was looking for an undergraduate journal to publish a paper in, I found a comparatively large lack of undergraduate cognitive science journals. About the same time, I met the people in charge of the union in charge of running the cognitive science journal, and the team for it was completely empty, so I started relatively from scratch when starting the operations for the 2023 edition of the journal.

4. What are the benefits to publishing in an undergraduate journal? 

Hilary: Honestly, I think it’s just the hands-on experience of seeing your paper to publication. You also learn how to improve your paper (and overall writing skills) by hearing peer and faculty feedback. 

Mark: Honestly having your paper part of a written publication and being able to see that, is the reward in itself. I have no doubt that working with an editorial board is a useful experience one learns from.

5. What has been your favourite part of running this journal so far?

Hilary: Meeting new people! I didn’t know most of the board before I joined the team, however, I became friends with everyone very quickly because I was working so closely with them. And the student authors are all very interesting people – one of them speaks four languages fluently (Latvian, Russian, English, and Danish) which is insane to me! I can barely handle two, haha.

Mark: Receiving and reading all the submissions we were sent was my favourite part for sure! It's both so fun to read both the vast amount of different topics written about, and seeing the location from where the submissions came.

6. What is one thing you wish you knew before becoming Editor-in-Chief?

Hilary: How time-consuming it is! There is a lot that goes into running a journal – planning and chairing meetings, checking in with everyone, answering emails, making executive decisions (if needed), and so much more! I’m incredibly grateful that Mark handles the finances/publishing/copyright side of things as I don’t think I would have been able to do everything by myself.

Mark: There are many resources that became apparent to me while working on the journal that would have been useful in the past, so be sure to know your university's resources, like website and journal management.

7. What is your favourite paper from this edition's journal?

Hilary: That’s a tough one. I would say it’s probably “Effects of Parental Control on Adolescent Body Dissatisfaction”. As someone of Asian descent, their study and focus on Asian parental control really resonated with me. 

Mark: They’re all my favourites :)

8. How do you start running a journal?

H: Mark was the one who started everything! He wanted to make a 2023 journal and then took the steps to make that happen. Given how I wasn’t involved in this process at all, I’ll let him answer this one. 

Mark: Well the first thing you need is people outside of just yourself who are interested in working on the project that is running a journal. Knowing your resources available to you, and establishing connections with them (such as the library, PKPSFSS, and SFU) will prove extremely helpful as you are starting up. While there are numerous tasks which will be a lot of work, I think what I mentioned previously is the foundation from which you will build your journal. Take note that journals are not a single static publication, but an evolving effort as people come and go, and that having resources for the next publication.

9. How can students join? 

Hilary & Mark: As a team, CUJCS will consider anyone’s application, and we actively encourage all students who are interested to apply. There are many different roles and responsibilities students can take on, and learn from as well as apply their knowledge.

Roles and responsibilities range from marketing and communications, website and technological development, to editing, to internal organising. For all roles, however, we recommend having strong writing abilities.

We generally recommend for prospective editors to have knowledge of what cognitive science is (We strongly recommend people to have taken a cognitive science course), or have a strong interest within a certain area within Cognitive Science. For prospective Editors-in-Chief, we recommend you have strong literary abilities and good knowledge on cognitive science. We also require that the individual to do well in their writing courses. These requirements will ensure that future editions of CUJCS are run by people who have both the academic and administrative expertise needed. 

A full list of requirements will be available soon on our new website. 

Additionally, your best bet is to follow our Instagram (@cujcs.ca) as we post all announcements there – including when we are hiring editors for the next edition of the journal! Alternatively, you can reach out to the Cognitive Science Student Society (CS^3) on Discord or Instagram (@cognitivesciencesfu). We are always looking for people to join.

10. What is some advice you would like to give to future editors-in-chief?

Hilary: Make sure you’re organised! Have a calendar, a planner, a sticky note, an excel spreadsheet, anything – being an editor-in-chief is a lot different than being an editor as there is a lot of administrative work involved. Make sure you’re on top of your game by keeping everything organised and thinking ahead! Also, having a good, supportive group of editors who are equally passionate about the journal really makes things easier. 

Mark: Start early! Timelines are very important, and fully understand the scope of your journal. Also don’t let yourself get stuck and spend too much time on one task, or it’ll have an effect on the time available for every other task.

Physical copies of the 2023 edition of the Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Cognitive Science will be available starting next week (July 10th). A digital copy will be published on the website in the coming weeks. If you would like a physical copy of the journal, please DM us on Instagram at @cujcs.ca.