Focus and Scope
The Owl is an interdisciplinary journal that publishes a variety of undergraduate research, including faculty-sponsored DIS and Honors in the Major work. We also accept creative projects, including artwork, photography, poetry, and creative writing.
This journal promotes an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas through the publication of research conducted by outstanding undergraduates at Florida State University. In doing so, The Owl showcases the heterogeneity of our emerging scholars, and establishes undergraduate research as a focus of Florida State's academic community.
Peer Review Process
Once you submit your work for review, you will receive a digital receipt confirming your submission. We will notify you if something is missing. Submissions for the spring 2020 edition of The Owl are due by December 14th, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST. We aim to inform you whether your submission has been accepted by January 11th, 2020.
Manuscripts submitted to The Owl undergo a traditional peer-review process:
Articles: Manuscripts submitted to The Owl are read first by the editor-in-chief. At this stage, the editor-in-chief is looking primarily for basic clarity of writing and appropriate adherence to the formatting guidelines. If the article is determined to be suitable in content and clarity for The Owl, the manuscript will be assigned to be read by two–three associate editors. The associate editors assess the article's rigor, methodology (when applicable), and clarity. The associate editors submit reviews to the editor-in-chief, with recommendations for the article to be accepted with minor revisions, accepted with major revisions, or rejected. The editor-in-chief, in concert with the editorial board, will make a final determination, which will be passed along to the author.
Creative works: If there is a member of the editorial board with a suitable expertise to facilitate review and evaluation of a particular creative work, that editor will be tasked with reviewing the submission. The associate editor will submit her review to the editor-in-chief, who, working with the responsible editor, will make a final determination, which will then be passed along to the author. If there is not a member of the editorial board with a suitable expertise to review a particular creative work, then the full editorial board will review the submission and offer recommendations for acceptance or rejection, which the editor-in-chief will use to make a final determination. Creative submissions to The Owl typically receive either a flat acceptance, flat rejection, or, in rare cases, acceptance with minor revisions. The Owl does not issue acceptances with major revisions for creative works. This is to avoid imposing outside creative influence or control over artists' works.
You may submit up to five (5) visual art pieces (photographs, paintings, etc.) and up to three (3) written pieces (stories, poems, creative nonfiction, etc.). The sum word count of your submissions should be under 5000 words. Research articles should be uploaded through the submission portal on this website; creative works should be uploaded via a Qualtrics form, the link to which can be found on the Submissions page of this website.
All acceptances are pending appropriate revisions. Revisions may include basic copyediting (finishing copy edits will be completed by journal editors); revisions for clarity; corrections to in-text citations and/or the references page; and/or revisions for academic and methodological rigor.
What we consider during peer review: The Owl receives more submissions than we have space to publish. Given this, we have to consider the relative merits of each manuscript we receive in determining which are the strongest pieces to publish. A manuscript can be rejected for a number of reasons; common issues are:
- Lack of theoretical clarity. Provide a detailed discussion of what motivated the project at hand. Remember: “X has not been studied,” or, “X is interesting,” are rarely sufficient justifications on their own for undertaking a project. (E.g., we don’t know whether raccoons find cotton or rayon more comfortable, but the simple fact of our unknowing doesn’t justify putting resources toward finding out.) You should provide some sort of review of relevant literature at the beginning of your manuscript, and it should be clear how your understanding of the existing literature led you to develop your hypotheses. Also remember: For humanities research, maintaining a balance in your use of primary and secondary sources is advisable.
- Analytic mistakes. This applies to STEM/social sciences more so than to the humanities. A basic understanding of the statistics and/or math underlying your analyses is important. Use conservative analyses, and don’t overstate your findings. Manuscripts will not be rejected for small analytic mistakes that can be corrected during revision. However, major misuses/misinterpretations of statistics are cause for concern. Consider the following points (when applicable):
- Think about whether one- or two-tailed p-values are appropriate for a given analysis. For directional hypotheses, one-tailed ps are often fine; otherwise, incline toward conservative, two-tailed tests.
- Look at the scatterplot of your data, not the just the p-values/statistics output by a given test. For example: Imagine that you hypothesize that X will predict Y. You collect data, run a regression, and voila!—a linear trend emerges. It is possible, though, that your data evince, say, a quadratic trend instead of a linear one. A correlation might still find a significant linear trend, even though the nature of your data is better captured by a quadratic model.
- Avoid median splits. If you expect that age will predict variable Y, and you code age on a 1-100 scale, don’t throw away good data by unnecessarily splitting your data into categories. You should treat age a continuous variable; don’t chop up your age variable at different points (e.g., 20-40 = young; 41-60 = middle-aged; 61-80 = old) and use categorical tests. This is throwing away good, informative data.
- Power analyses are desirable! Your paper won’t be rejected for not having a power analysis; however, if possible, consider providing one. If one is not provided, but would be simple to conduct given your methodology, we will likely request that you include one during the revision process. GPower is a free, easy-to-use software for conducting power analyses.
- Remember: Each statistical test that you conduct has an error rate (e.g., α=.05). Unfortunately, error compounds when you conduct many tests. If you conduct 40 tests, each with a false-positive error rate of .05, the probability that at least one of those tests has produced a false-positive result has inflated to 1-(0.95^40) = 0.87! Determine ahead of time which tests you’ll perform (and keep the number of tests under control) in order to keep your false-positive error rate down. It’s OK to do exploratory analyses, but you must be clear about which tests were planned and which were exploratory.
- We encourage analytic diversity. Significance testing/p-values are great, but they aren’t everything. If you have the requisite experience, we are happy to see the inclusion of Bayesian analyses, equivalence testing, and other methods of analysis that extend beyond traditional null hypothesis significance testing.
When applicable, we strongly encourage the preregistration of studies (e.g., on aspredicted.org), the open sharing of data and study materials (e.g., on OSF.io), and other forms of research transparency.
Keep your language clear. Don’t overuse jargon, don’t obfuscate. Be clear and concise. This doesn’t mean write in a dry style—great papers are compelling, page-turning reads—but it does mean that you should avoid padding your manuscript with “fluff.”
The Owl has a rolling submission process and accepts manuscripts for the next available issue throughout the academic year. New issues of the journal are published annually in the spring semester, with an occasional special issue in the fall.
Open Access Policy
This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports the global exchange of knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Prior to submitting your manuscript to The Owl, please refer to the following FAQs to ensure that your manuscript is submission-ready.
1. When is the deadline for submissions to the spring 2019 edition of The Owl?
January 6th, 2019. Manuscript acceptance is not based on submission date, but we do encourage submissions before the deadline so that editors and authors have more time to complete the review and revision process.
2. How do I get my references and in-text citations into APA format? Why do you use APA?
Click here for rules and guidelines for in-text citations in APA format, and here for rules and guidelines for creating a references page in APA format. There are example references in APA style on the Author Guidelines page. APA is a widely used and easily interpretable style that is amenable to a range of fields.
3. Will I be more likely to get published if I submit earlier?
No. Our review process begins after the submission deadline, and all submissions receive equal consideration.
4. How does the publication process work?
Please see the first half of Peer Review Process.
5. Why was my manuscript declined for publication?
Please see the second half of Peer Review Process.
6. Can I submit a DIS or Honors in the Major project?
7. Do you accept stories, poems, and art?
8. Can I submit after I’ve already graduated?
Yes, as long as the work that you are submitting was completed while you were an undergraduate at FSU.
9. I want to eventually submit to The Owl, but I haven’t started my research yet. How do I go about doing that?
Contact the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors to learn about research opportunities in your field, and look out for workshop dates on the SCURC Facebook page.
10. I want to join the editorial board. How do I go about doing that?
Applications to join the 2018-2019 editorial board are now closed. Follow SCURC on Facebook to know when the application for the 2019-2020 editorial board opens in fall 2019!
Additional support comes from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement, and the Student Government Association.
Sources of Support
University Libraries provides technical support and journal hosting.
The Owl spotlights the remarkable research and creative works produced by undergraduate students at Florida State University. Devoted to exhibiting the results of intellectual curiosity at the undergraduate level, The Owl accentuates the capacity of Florida State students from all undergraduate disciplines to acquire the finest education in the country.
Launched under the vision and direction of Dr. Craig Filar and Dr. Cathy Levenson in the 2009-2010 academic year, the journal has published eight volumes, with a ninth coming in the spring of 2019.
Named after the original seal employed from 1851 to 1901 by West Florida Seminary, The Owl anchors itself in the history of our institution, showcases the brightest minds of today, and keeps a sharp eye on the future. The Owl publishes research and creative works of undergraduates from all disciplines.