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Editors' Introduction to The York Scholar, Volume 6, Issue 1

Welcome to the sixth volume of The York Scholar. With this issue, we continue our project of bringing the intriguing research done by students in the College-Wide Writing Program to a wider audience. Today, in addition to being available in print, The York Scholar is available online (, and is featured in the York College Library database of periodicals. The York Scholar has become a valuable resource for Writing 300 instructors, who frequently use essays from it as models for their students. Among Writing 300 students, publication in The York Scholar has become a goal to strive for, and those whose work is selected are justifiably proud. Our one regret is that we cannot publish more of the excellent student research essays submitted each year.

The essays in this volume were written by students in the 300-level research writing courses offered by The College-Wide Writing Program. These classes guide students through the entire research and writing process in slow-motion. Students begin by formulating and narrowing a research question. They then learn to locate and become familiar with academic resources in their disciplines. Students practice quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing from these sources, paying careful attention to correct citation format and the avoidance of plagiarism. In developing their own arguments, students analyze and synthesize the sources, combining their own insights with what they have learned through their research. Considerable emphasis is placed upon revision and once a draft is completed, students receive feedback from peers and their instructors designed to help them refocus and edit their work. Ultimately they produce a substantial final draft that illuminates a topic of interest to them.

In choosing which essays to publish, we focused on the crucial elements we expect papers in the research writing courses to display: comprehensive research, strong analysis, critical thinking, and proficient writing. The topics considered in these essays reflect the concerns and interests of our student researchers. Two consider major health issues. In the first, “Rethinking Pharmaceutical Treatments for Adolescent Depression,” Marie A. Audain examines the process psychiatric drugs undergo before they are approved for use in adolescents. She exposes the problems in that system, explaining how pharmaceutical companies push off-label uses of these medications, and ghost-write the very studies of their own drugs that appear in medical journals. Having called for the FDA to reconsider off-label usage, she questions whether these drugs should continue to be prescribed to adolescents in the meantime.

In the second, Gail Da Costa asks: “Why Is Cervical Cancer a Problem of Increasing Magnitude Among Women of Low Socioeconomic Standing?” Building on her experiences as a health care worker in Guyana, Da Costa explores how poverty and lack of education make it difficult for many women in developing countries to receive the kind of screening for cervical cancer that women in developed nations are routinely given. Pointing out that cervical cancer can often be cured if detected early enough, she implores the international community to ensure that all women have access to screening and treatment.

The third paper examines a cultural issue: the appropriation of jazz. In “The Social Effects of Jazz” Zola Philipp argues that the music industry, dominated by whites, exploited the creations of black musicians, depriving them not just of money, but also of their cultural patrimony. Asserting that the origins of jazz and its history should be better known, she proposes that high schools teach students about jazz as an African-American art form.

These three papers show how students can marry their energy and passion with the focused, hard work of research, and we hope that their example can inspire current Writing 300 students to take on their own ambitious projects. Perhaps these essays can also spur further conversation among the York community about the kinds of research and writing our students are currently doing and what we would like to see them doing in the future.

The cover art for this issue of The York Scholar features one component of a three-part drawing by Ani Vigani entitled “Still Life Abstraction.” We selected Viganis' work from among the many on exhibition in the Spring 2009 student art show. We were drawn to this piece not just for its beauty, but also because it visually evokes changes and shifts in perspective, a phenomenon students experience as they come to understand their topic differently and more deeply through a variety of sources.

This volume marks the start of a new period of editorial leadership for The York Scholar, as Karin A. Wolf leaves the journal following a two-year term as co-editor. With Wolf’s encouragement and support, The York Scholar began to feature student art on the cover, a development that has clearly improved the look of the journal and established a venue for York’s art students to show their work. With the publication of this issue of The York Scholar, Phebe Kirkham, a longstanding member of the teaching faculty in the College-Wide Writing Program, begins her term as the journal’s fourth co-editor.

Also new this year, in preparing the papers for publication, we worked closely with many of the students to revise and copy-edit their manuscripts. In the past, papers for The York Scholar have been only lightly copy-edited, but we have now adopted a step-by-step process of honing the papers that follows the editorial practices of other journals. Throughout copyediting, our goal was to remain true to the students’ voices so that these papers might provide an accurate reflection of the work being done in the Writing 300 courses.

We extend our thanks to all those who make the publication of The York Scholar possible: the Office of Academic Affairs, the Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation, York College Printing Services, the Web Team, and the faculty and staff of The College-Wide Writing Program. Most importantly, we thank all of the students who submitted their work for consideration; without their efforts, there would be no papers to publish.