9th Graders Can Publish Scientific Papers, Too

I just stumpled upon a paper published in the prestigious journal Ecological Economics, titled Determining the willingness to pay for ecosystem service restoration in a degraded coastal watershed: A ninth grade investigation, 31 of whose 36 authors are 9th grade students of a high-school biology class (from this public high school in New Jersey). Here is part of the introduction to the paper:

Designing and conducting our study was very difficult, but undoubtedly the hardest step of the process was writing the paper. For example, before we began writing we had to review and synthesize the existing literature about ecosystem valuation. The papers were sometimes too advanced for us to fully understand, but after reading so many, we were able to gain a general understanding. We assigned different students to write different sections of the paper, but the amount of effort each individual was willing to provide varied, essentially leading to a jumble of sections filled with pretentious scientific jargon that masked a lack of understanding on the part of many students. This may have been because of a lack of effort on the part of some, or the misguided efforts of students to make the paper conform to what they thought science (and scientific writing) was. Also, we had to learn how to tailor our paper to this journal, Ecological Economics, working to format it so that it fit the requirements. The problems we faced may also have stemmed from having such a large class working on one paper or just from struggling to understand the data. In addition, the statistical data analysis and models we used were beyond the grasp of most of our class, thus making discussions about the results more difficult. This also complicated our ability to draw conclusions based on our findings. It was not a simple process.

To me, the sole idea of such a project is great. But the fact that the paper actually has got published is even better. Thumbs up for the editors of Ecological Economics. And thanks to the students for showing that you don’t have to have a well-known name to get published in meaningful journals (unless it is the American Economic Review, where you have to pay a fee for your paper to be considered for publication).


2 thoughts on “9th Graders Can Publish Scientific Papers, Too

  1. Having students learn science by doing science is so important. My students are motivated to learn because they are attempting to solve real world problems, instead of completing cookie cutter labs. We need to encourage more citizen science in classrooms around the world. Thank you for posting our story on your blog! My students are so excited!
    ~Kristina Nicosia
    Biology Teacher West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North


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