Welcome to the first edition of Macquarie Matrix: Undergraduate Research Journal. The concept of an undergraduate research journal is not new, but Matrix has distinctive features: a completely online process for receiving and publishing papers, and the use of HDR students as reviewers – to build their capacity as researchers. The idea of the journal arose from two main considerations. Firstly it is a way for the University to fulfil its social obligation. We receive Government funding and have an obligation to the wider community to make transparent what Universities do, which is to encourage critical thinking, the ability to synthesise data and create new knowledge and to communicate that knowledge. Secondly we wanted to showcase the standards that can be achieved by undergraduates and honours students, while giving them the opportunity to develop their research and communication skills. We are proud of our students’ work, and think it deserves a wider audience.
The papers in this volume are typical of the range and quality of our undergraduates’ work. The multidisciplinary nature of Matrix allows readers and contributors alike to acquaint themselves with unfamiliar concepts and approaches that may prove useful in their own field, and opens up possibilities for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. With contributions from the Faculties of Science, Human Sciences and Arts, a variety of methodologies are represented. From the analysis of different kinds of data by Jeong (on nanoparticles), Mealings (on child speech) and Mevawalla (on perceptions of professional status) to the theoretical discourse of Harvey (on constitutional review) and Lyons (on realism in photojournalism). The ability to review the existing literature, to scope potential areas for further study, as Linssen does on the subject of synaesthesia, is another important skill for students to master as they move on to postgraduate research.
Each of these authors has gone through the standard process for academic publishing of submitting a paper for blind peer review, responding to reviewers' comments/criticisms, and editing their paper according to the journal’s style guide. We feel that this has been a valuable exercise both for them, and the reviewers in honing their critical skills. We hope that you enjoy the product of their work, and that you may be able to participate in future editions either as an author or a reviewer.
Adam Smith, Managing Editor.