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PPE Alumna Laura Ballerini publishes thesis in academic journal

9 August 2021
After writing her PPE Bachelor's thesis on the link between Citizen Science and the Sustainable Development Goals, Laura received the PPE Thesis Prize Award and the 2020 Faculty of Humanities Thesis Award. Her supervisor, Dr. Sylvia Bergh, encouraged her to seek publication and suggested working together in order to turn the thesis into an academic article. It has now been published in the Springer journal, “Sustainability Science”.

“The publication was a long, yet highly rewarding process” said Laura. “We started off by selecting a relevant journal and then carefully studied its submission guidelines, before making minor edits to the thesis. Through Zoom meetings, emails, and the invaluable help of an editor, we finalized the first version of the article and submitted it last October to the Springer journal Sustainability Science.” Three months passed before Laura and Sylvia received the comments of three anonymous reviewers, who raised some valuable points and requested small revisions to the article. After making pertinent changes, they submitted the second version of the article and received approval for publication in July. “The news came when I was on vacation in Tuscany with my best friends from PPE and it was a unique joy to be able to celebrate with them!” 

Citizen Science & SDG monitoring
“Given that the thesis was very well written, it did not require major adjustments to be published by a leading journal in the development studies field,” Sylvia added. “I believe that her thesis, and now open access article, makes a significant contribution to an emerging field of research which is of key global relevance. Laura did a great job in carefully choosing and applying the research methodology, and the fact that she interacted with the few key researchers in the field shows her great networking ability and persistence. In my view, the efforts Laura put into her research design and data collection were at the level which we could expect of a PhD student, only limited by the time available and the scope of the thesis itself.” 

Sylvia is a graduate of the D.Phil. Program in Development Studies at QEH in Oxford (class of 2008), the Master’s programme Laura is currently pursuing. Their similar paths made for an excellent pair when working together. “I found it very rewarding to mentor such a promising next-generation researcher such as Laura and to guide her through the ins and outs of academic publishing, and, of course, I am very proud to be Laura’s co-author. By disseminating the article not only to academics but also to relevant policymakers, we both hope that it will bring about some change in how Citizen Science is integrated into the SDG monitoring apparatus.” 

A future in academics?
The last time we spoke to Laura, she was already thinking about doing a PhD upon her graduation from Oxford. “I was honestly pretty scared of venturing into academic publishing, but Sylvia’s expertise, impeccable guidance, and tireless support made everything easy and possible. This positive collaboration and incredible experience reinforced my motivation to push my academic career further and to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a researcher and foreign correspondent in the development field.”