The George Washington University Hosts Student Journal Symposium

Graduate Program in Publishing event joined students and professionals.

May 4, 2024

From left, moderator John Warren asked panelists Kelley Squazzo and Swapna Padhye to share their publishing expertise.

From left, moderator John Warren asked panelists Kelley Squazzo and Swapna Padhye to share their publishing expertise. (Lily Speredelozzi/GW Today)

Two publishing industry professionals shared their expertise in the plenary session at the inaugural Student Journal Symposium for Literary and Research Publications hosted by the Graduate Program in Publishing of the George Washington University’s College of Professional Studies.

The symposium, sponsored by the Society for Scholarly Publishing with support from the Council on Undergraduate Research, attracted participants from several area universities. According to John W. Warren, program director and associate professor, attendance exceeded his expectations, with two unexpected guests coming from the University of Oklahoma.

“We were not even trying to invite people outside the D.C. area,” Warren said. “They heard about it through someone at the university and got funding to come.”

Twelve panelists from eight undergraduate and graduate student-led journals spoke at the symposium, representing four journals from GW, two from American University, and one each from Howard University and the University of Maryland. For many of the panelists, it was their first public speaking opportunity.

The guest experts were Kelley Squazzo, director of library and publishing partnerships with Project MUSE at the Johns Hopkins University Press, and Swapna Padhye, publishing director for humanities, social sciences and law at Oxford University Press.

Warren kicked things off by asking, Why work in publishing? Three main reasons given in answer were that the work matters; that it presents opportunities to meet interesting people; and that it offers a flexible work/life balance. He touched on the wide range of sectors and markets in which interested students might seek employment, including academic, government and other arenas, and briefly highlighted the varied roles open to professionals, from acquisitions to marketing and from rights and permissions to production and design.

In the plenary panel, Warren asked a series of questions such as how Squazzo and Padhye would describe their career trajectories, what they find most rewarding about their work and ways to advance diversity and inclusion in the field.

Padhye posed a series of rhetorical questions to suggest how student journal staff might measure their impact. How are you serving your community? Simply by publishing content its members provide? Or do you hope to engage readers as well? Consideration of such questions helps publishers and editors be more effective in their roles, Padhye said. She also warned the young people present that senior editors at the top of their fields might lose touch with entering generations of professionals, which gave Warren an apt segue to the subject of diversity in publishing.

“Publishing is definitely not the only industry that has suffered from a lack of diversity,” Warren said. “What are some ways to advance diversity and inclusion in the field?”

At Johns Hopkins University Press, Squazzo said, there is a paid internship program that prioritizes first-generation and limited-income students.

Recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities is another avenue for increasing diversity, Padhye added.

Asked about the rewards that come with their jobs, Squazzo and Padhye said their curiosity is gratified and that constant change can keep them feeling stimulated by their work. Publishing, they said, is a good profession for people who like to work collaboratively, and it keeps critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills sharp—skills that are highly transferable to other settings.

The hourlong plenary session was followed by two student panels and a collaborative session addressing AI policy at scholarly journals. GW student panelists included Jaylee Davis, an honors student in CCAS and editor-in-chief of the "GW Undergraduate Review."

Davis was one of three GW students who worked with Warren to organize the symposium. The other two were Dominique McIndoe, candidate for an M.P.S. in publishing this spring, and first-year honors student Amelia Nason.

GW student panelists included Sophia Pavlenko, editor-in-chief of "The Globe," GW’s undergraduate journal in international affairs; Stephanie Van Ausdeln, its incoming EIC; Kevin Zhang and Breanna Crossman, director and writer, respectively, of GW’s "Undergraduate Law Review." Warren represented the graduate student-managed "GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing," of which he is founder and publisher.

Student panelists discussed their work on scholarly journals.
Student panelists discussed their work on literary and research journals. (Contributed photo)