Coles Undergrads Discover the Joys & Challenges of Publishing

Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research includes first-ever articles from business students

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 24, 2020) — For the first time in the publication’s nine-year history, the Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research now includes papers written by students in the Michael J. Coles College of Business.

International marketing students Jackson Lott, Rachael Amatriain, and Clay Wilderman, as well as information systems student Kyle Sicard, are the first Coles College students to ever have research featured in the peer-reviewed journal. Of the five manuscripts published in the latest issue, four were written by Coles students.

KJUR Coles College Authors
Dr. Mona Sinha (left) and international marketing students Rachael Amatriain, Clay Wilderman, and Jackson Lott

“It feels surreal to be published,” says Amatriain, who co-authored a case study describing Japanese bathroom equipment manufacturer Toto’s struggles to gain a foothold in the American market. “It is truly an amazing accomplishment and a great way to graduate from college with a bang!”

The University launched KJUR in 2011 to “develop a spirit of inquiry among undergraduate students,” according to its website. Previous issues have highlighted undergraduate research in fields such as the sciences, psychology, English, art history, education, political science, and more. To date, KJUR articles have been downloaded 66,000 times by residents of 186 countries.

Dr. Amy Buddie, Kennesaw State’s director of undergraduate research and editor-in-chief of KJUR, was excited to see Coles College students complete the rigorous submission and approval process.

“I am very excited about the Coles manuscripts in the latest issue,” Buddie says. “I hope that other faculty and students take notice and become inspired to submit their work in the future.”

Three of the four Coles College researchers published in the journal are former students of Marketing Professor Mona Sinha, who was instrumental in helping get their work published.

Sinha has been teaching International Marketing to juniors and seniors since 2016 and, as part of her course, she assigns them to write case studies about businesses facing challenges as they expand globally. Sinha has worked with several students to have them present their case studies at other venues such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Atlantic Marketing Association Conference. For those interested in working with her after graduating, she mentors them through the process of submitting to KJUR.

In Spring 2018, Sinha offered her class an opportunity to present posters of their case studies at the Kennesaw State Symposium of Student Scholars in lieu of an in-class presentation. More than 40 students participated, which was the first time business research was showcased there. Afterwards, some of the students, including Lott, Amatriain, and Wilderman, attended the 2018 Atlantic Marketing Association conference and became the first-ever student presenters. Following this, Sinha urged the students to pursue KJUR publication.

Encouraging students to present and publish research prepares them to succeed in the professional world, Sinha says.

“Although many undergraduates may engage in some form of research as part of their courses, very few actually present at conferences or publish their work,” she says. “Doing so requires specialized skills that adds value to their resumes.”

Getting published meant the students entered a cycle of submitting and revising based on recommendations from the KJUR review board. For Wilderman, whose paper addresses the growth of Yoga as a business in the U.S., this meant making 10 separate revisions over the course of 18 months.

“I had to defend each point brought up by the reviewers and then continue to defend why I made changes to the original content,” he says. “I actually enjoyed defending my research. It proved that I really had thought things through for the case I presented.”

Wilderman recently wrote a LinkedIn article describing the evolution of his class case study project into a symposium poster, a conference presentation and eventually a published journal article.

According to Buddie, many students withdraw their submissions rather than complete the review process. However, Sinha was able to motivate these three students and continued to stay in touch with them, assisting with their revisions and offering guidance based on her 10 years as a published researcher.

“When someone offers to mentor you, grab hold of the opportunity,” says Amatriain. “Without Dr. Sinha’s push from the very beginning, I would not have been able to publish my case study. She was a constant mentor and an invaluable asset from start to finish.”

The months-long process of preparing their papers for publication and the satisfaction of seeing the project through has left a lasting impact on the students.

“In addition to research-based writing skills, I learned perseverance and dedication from the project,” Wilderman says. “I was actually able to submit samples from my paper when I applied for an internal marketing position. They enjoyed my writing style so much that I was offered a second interview. This process has not only affected my personal life, but my professional career as well.”

The Coles College students’ research papers have already made an impact on the business community. Michael Joseph, the CEO of Kenya Airways and the former CEO of Safaricom, has reached out to Sinha to discuss the findings in Lott’s paper examining that company’s failed launch of its M-Pesa mobile-based transaction platform in India. Lott and Sinha will take advantage of the unique access to a primary research source to publish an addendum to the KJUR article.

For Sinha, seeing her students accomplish their goals has inspired her to continue pushing more young people to consider research pursuits like academic conferences and journal publications.

“Now I can more confidently encourage my current and future students to throw their hats in the ring,” she says. “They can see how others before them have succeeded at it, so it’s definitely a goal they can achieve.”

“If there was just one lesson I could teach my students, it would be to develop grit,” she adds. “Never give in, never give up, and ultimately achieve the goal.”

-Patrick Harbin

Coles College Research in Volume 6, Issue 2 of the Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research: