JURPA Celebrates—and Shares—Undergraduate Research

Share This:




JURPA Celebrates—and Shares—Undergraduate Research


Kendra Redmond, Editor

There’s something special about publishing your first peer-reviewed journal article, seeing your research contribution to humanity cataloged and accessible to anyone who goes looking.

Peer-reviewed publishing is a corner­stone of science, required to progress in an academic career and rapidly advance human knowledge. Yet the key skills of writing and publishing scientific papers aren’t covered in many undergraduate programs, or even graduate programs. That’s where the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics and Astronomy (JURPA) comes in. Published by SPS and the American Institute of Physics (AIP), JURPA is a peer-reviewed physics and astronomy journal that publishes research papers written by undergraduates (and occasionally high school students).

The idea for the journal took root during a 1979 meeting of the SPS Council. The first edition was published in 1982 under editor Rexford Adelberger, then a professor at Guilford College. Over the last 40 years the journal has developed and evolved; most recently, in 2023 the SPS Executive Committee voted to rename the journal, then called the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics, in recognition of its research focus and to highlight its inclusion of astronomy research papers. But throughout its history, the journal has remained committed to its original aim, as explained by Adelberger in Vol. 10 of the journal:

The research projects that most undergraduate students [could] complete during their brief stay at college seldom met the rigorous requirements of [professional journals]. This does not mean that the work lacked new physics and clever insights, it was just not of the scope expected of people whose profession is to do research in physics. Yet, we were convinced that the learning and rewards that come from writing up the research in a professional manner and learning to communicate using the professional media had a definite place in the undergraduate program of study in physics.

Through JURPA student authors learn how to write papers, follow manuscript submission guidelines, work with the peer-review process, navigate publishing, and share their work with the professional community. Each paper receives a DOI and is published on AIP Publishing's JURPA website and on the SPS website. The journal is published in print once each year and sent to SPS members.  

Five Ways to Get Involved in JURPA

  1. Student researchers: Submit a manuscript—see spsnational.org/jurpa for details. 
  2. Professional researchers: Volunteer to review JURPA submissions in your field by emailing sps [at] aip.org
  3. Support student research—read JURPA at pubs.aip.org/aip/jurp.
  4. Spread the word about JURPA to your physics and astronomy network.
  5. Support SPS. Professional development opportunities like JURPA are possible because of the financial and volunteer support of Sigma Pi Sigma members and friends!


More from this Department