FASS News, Students, Political Science

A step toward commons and a world of open science: A look at Gadfly: Undergraduate Journal of Political Science

April 08, 2022

Gadfly is a student-run political science journal that provides students with the avenue to highlight their research to a broader audience through open access publishing.

The journal encourages students to explore their political inquiries and share their theoretical research essays and ideas. Gadfly provides a fun and diverse community for students to participate in academic discourse as they share unique and interesting perspectives on various topics as well as gain experience and knowledge on the publishing process. 

“Gadfly” takes its name from the philosophical and social science implications of a person who interferes with the status quo of society. Founded in 2021 Gadfly has grown tremendously and has produced significant success. Within one year, they created their website in both English and French as well as established and managed social media on all platforms. For their first volume they received over 40 submissions across Canada in both English and French and published 11 manuscripts.  

Gadfly’s team recognize that their success was only made possible with the support of faculty members who encouraged their students to submit to and work with the journal, and the endless support from SFU Library’s digital publishing unit and Public Knowledge Project’s (PKP) Open Journal System (OJS) an open-source software application for managing and publishing scholarly journals. 

“Without PKP/OJS, getting a journal started would be much more difficult! It is a great step towards a commons and a world of open science,” says Parsa Alirezaei, Co-Editor-in-Chief of Gadfly. 

Much like its name, Gadfly is committed to exploring and entertaining ideas that are critical to the status quo. One of Gadfly’s aims as an undergraduate journal is to provide learning opportunities for students to improve their reviewing and editing skills and to critically engage with the social sciences.  

There are multiple dimensions to this. Journal staff learn from each other through reviewing manuscripts together to gain an understanding of the topics the author is discussing. During the review process, the staff and author work very closely together, and it is expected that the author accepts constructive criticism and that journal staff be open to new perspectives and the author’s interpretation of the topics discussed. The review process is also as collaborative as possible, encouraging reviewers to annotate on the same document to communicate ideas through text. However, this process is not perfect, and the team believes there is still lots of work to be done to improve it. 

“Gadfly is more than just a student project, it's a way to connect students to the broader knowledge production and sharing processes in place that can seem bigger than them, but truly serves as a further manifestation of them," says Aliyah Datoo, Co-Journal Manager of Gadfly. 

Gadfly’s next steps are to develop critical orientation properly at an institutional level. As students progress through their degrees, they only stay with the journal for a few semesters, so developing an institutional structure is particularly important to ensure the initial values of Gadfly remain the same. Gadfly hopes to develop such a structure in 2022, and if successful, the materials published, and the general function of the journal will continue to adhere to its initial commitment. 

“What needs to be considered more often is the role that a critical and socially grounded learning community can play in not only improving the pedagogical habitus of students, but maintaining, and possibly heightening their awareness about the world in its totality as well. Our goal with Gadfly has always been to create said community and do our best to make it last for future students,’ says Alirezaei. 

Gadfly is currently accepting submissions for their second issue. Submissions that are accepted will go through two rounds of editing. The first will be conducted by associate and sectional editors and the second will be by copy editors. During this process students will be given the opportunity to work alongside the Gadfly staff and learn how to review, edit, and reformate manuscripts to follow the Gadfly style. Submissions for the second issue close on May 15, 2022. 

Gadfly is also looking to expand their staffing team. This is a wonderful opportunity for students who wish to learn more about the publishing process, improve their academic writing skills, and work with and learn from a group of highly motivated students.