Purpose, History, and Importance of the Student Angle

by Andrew K. Carlson, Jesse R. Fischer, Landon L. Pierce, Dan J. Dembkowski, Michael E. Colvin, Janice A. Kerns, and Jeffrey D. Fore student subsectionINTRODUCTION More than 20 years ago, a column in Fisheries was launched for dissemination of news and activities relevant to students in the American Fisheries Society (AFS). The birth of the Student Angle coincided with the establishment of the Student Subsection of the Education Section (hereafter Subsection) of AFS in 1991. This forum continues to serve a crucial role for students within AFS, providing information for students by students, and fostering professional development of readers and authors alike. The Student Angle exposes the Fisheries readership—including students, biologists, scientists, and educators—to important student perspectives. A communication forum fueling dialogue among students and professionals benefits the Society and the aquatic ecosystems students will inherit. As a venue for information exchange in the flagship AFS journal, the column also helps fulfill the Subsection’s mission to “facilitate interactions among our peers and mentors by providing member services consistent with the goals and mission of the parent Society.” For authors, the Student Angle is a valuable opportunity to sharpen communication skills (i.e., writing and reviewing), convey information to a wide readership of fisheries professionals, and encourage student involvement in the Subsection. Despite the significance of the Student Angle, many current aspiring professionals are [su_members message=”This content is for members only. Please login.”

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   login_url=”/membership/member-login/” class=””]unacquainted with the forum. Lack of familiarity and indefinite scope may have caused a recent plateau in column submissions below historical levels. To increase awareness of and participation in the Student Angle, we review the history and detail the submission process of this one-of-a-kind resource.

  HISTORY trends 1The Fisheries student column began in 1991 as the Students’ Perspective, with name changes occurring in 1993 (Students’ Corner), 1995 (Students’ Angle), and 2011 (Student Angle). A total of 140 articles spanning diverse topics have been published. In our review of past publications, we encountered articles on graduate school selection, manuscript submission, time management, and professional networking. Early column submissions informed readers about the formation of the Subsection, a watershed moment for student involvement in the Society. Articles appeared in nearly every issue of Fisheries until 2000, when a downward publication trend began (Figure 1). trends 2Submissions have increased since 2005, when no articles were published, but participation still falls short of the 1990s. The scope of the Student Angle is broad and deep, giving authors considerable flexibility in topic selection. Student Angle articles have emphasized research (Reynolds 1994; Isaak 1998; Chenoweth 2013), professional development (Neumann 1993; Jones 2002; James 2011), and graduate school (Allen 1993; Overton et al. 2000; O’Connor 2012; Table 1) over other topics. Given that more than 60% of articles are authored by M.S. and Ph.D. students (Table 2), this trend is predictable as students may be expected to write about the issues that most concern them and the primary audience—other students. Articles describing student research were written frequently before 2000, but only one submission was published in the next 10 years (Figure 2a). However, a resurgence of research publications has occurred, with 13 articles since 2011. Professional development articles were frequent in the mid-1990s and peaked in 1999 but have since declined (Figure 2b).   Student Angle submissions about graduate school have followed a similar decreasing trend, with 21 articles published before 2000 but only three from 2000 to 2014 (Figure 2c). In addition to student research, recent articles have explored student-centered AFS programs including the Janice Fenske Excellence in Fisheries Management Fellowship and the Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program.   Authors from 51 universities have published Student Angle articles, but only 21 institutions have had more than two authors (Table 3). More than one third (34.3 %) of submissions have been authored by students from three universities: South Dakota State, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State. Along with Kansas State University and Montana State University, students from these institutions have written nearly half (47.1 %) of the Student Angle articles. We encourage submissions from other universities to illustrate the diverse aquatic research occurring throughout the country and abroad. Furthermore, students need not be the only authors. Diversity in authorship, as seen in the past (e.g., a former director of AFS, a Fisheries editor, biologists, supervisors, and postdoctoral researchers), provides topical variety and ensures readers are exposed to a rich mosaic of student and professional perspectives. 1 sa SUBMISSION PROCESS   The submission process for Student Angle articles is similar to standard peer-reviewed manuscripts. First, authors brainstorm topics, typically those related to their academic and professional experiences. At this stage, we encourage authors to discuss potential publication ideas with the Subsection President and President-Elect, who act as editors of the column and can offer recommendations for innovative article topics. All types of submissions (e.g., research summaries, advice, short stories, opinions, and collaborative efforts) are welcome. After selecting a topic, authors submit a first draft (typically 1,600 words or less and formatted for Fisheries) and cover letter to the President, who forwards the manuscript to the President-Elect for review. Comments are generally returned to authors within one month. Authors then submit a revised draft to the President, who convenes with the President-Elect to determine if additional revisions are necessary. When the manuscript is polished and ready for submission, the final draft is sent to Fisheries for publication.   2 saFUTURE DIRECTIONS   If you would like to write a Student Angle article, please contact the Subsection President right away! We encourage submissions from all realms of fisheries and would love to hear your ideas. Innovative topics include groundbreaking research, new technologies, emerging fields of study, social media, a student’s guide to professional meetings, and collaborations in ecological fields outside fisheries. However, authors (both students and professionals) have the freedom to investigate virtually any aspect of aquatic ecology. The Student Angle is an outstanding forum for information exchange, professional development, and a valuable way to contribute to AFS. Don’t pass up this one-of-a-kind resource! 1 sa       REFERENCES   Allen, M. 1993. Guide to choosing a graduate school. Fisheries 18(2):30–31. Chenoweth, E. 2013. Trend lines to headlines: a scientist’s foray into journalism. Fisheries 38(11):510–511. Isaak, D. J. 1998. Science and graduate research. Fisheries 23(4):29. James, D. A. 2011. The academic road less traveled. Fisheries 36(7):351–352. Jones, M. 2002. To intern or not to intern. Fisheries 27(4):29. Neumann, R. 1993. Networking at AFS annual meeting has benefits. Fisheries 18(9):44. O’Connor, C. M. 2012. How to find a good graduate advisor and make the most of graduate school. Fisheries 37(3):126–128. Overton, A. S., T. R. Reinert, and C. R. Ruetz. 2000. Keeping the communication lines open between you and your graduate committee. Fisheries 25(10):41–43. Reynolds, L. 1994. Philosophizing about hypothesizing. Fisheries 19(4):36.