Interview with Trail Six Editor-in-Chief, Jialin Yang


Editors in Chief Jialin Yang and Kelly Cubbon (History)

What is Trail Six? How did the idea of an undergraduate journal for geography begin?
Trail Six is UBC’s Undergraduate Journal of Geography. The idea naturally came out of the absence of a geography undergraduate journal at UBC. The Journal of International Affairs and the Journal of Political Science have been around for quite a few years but there was no journal dedicated specifically to Geography on campus. Trail Six provides an incredibly important opportunity for students to have their work published, to participate as editors or as a layout designer, and to find their part in the Geography community.

What is the process of publishing Trail Six, from start to finish? How many people are part of the process? Are they all students or are the papers faculty reviewed as well?
There are a lot of steps and sometimes we find ourselves going back and forth when something happens unexpectedly. Specifically in my role as VP Academic, I have to:

  • Hire an entire editorial team + another Editor-in-Chief (Kelly Cubbon)
  • Advertise that submissions are open
  • Receive submissions and distribute them to editors
  • Hold a few group meetings to go over each submission individually
  • Match editors with authors
  • Review each submission in each round of editing (there are at least 4)
  • Ask faculty members to approve each submission
  • Apply for grants such as the AMS Sustainability Grant
  • Make sure we are on schedule as a team (this is hard)
  • Editing, editing, and editing
  • Sending out rejection letters that include feedback given by editors
  • Ordering/printing

This year we have a total of 25 people on our team. They are all students but our papers will have to be approved by faculty members as well.

Is there a particular theme for Trail Six this year?
To be honest, it’s very hard to have a theme in mind and filter submissions based off of that. Last year, the three themes found in Trail Six happened naturally. I’m hoping that it will be possible this year, but the submissions we get are so diverse that it’s difficult.

Have you noticed a strong majority of submissions from a specific geography stream (Human, E&S, or Geob)?
There are definitely fewer submissions from Geographical Biogeosciences.

What do you think causes the discrepancy?
This may be attributed to the fact that generally there are more labs and fewer papers to write in these courses. We do get a lot of submissions from Human and E&S though. I would love to see more GIS submissions but it can be hard translating them into a form that fits in a journal. You tend to lose a lot of the clarity and overall quality.

Have you had any unexpected difficulties as Editor-in-Chief? Is the position what you thought it would be?
Kelly Cubbon (co-Editor-in-Chief) and I are both new to this role which meant we had to learn very quickly. Brittany and Sarah did such an amazing job coordinating the team last year and we look forward to following in their footsteps.

Personally I find it most difficult to shortlist the final submissions. On one hand, you trust your editorial team to make the best decisions but when their votes are completely polarized, it can be quite the dilemma. Kelly and I shy away from making executive decisions too lightly because we want the process to be as democratic and transparent as possible. We also set a few goals for the journal this year:

  • Carbon neutral printing for the hard copies of the journal
  • Start accepting papers written for non-Geography courses that are related to Geography
  • Have a higher profile on campus
  • Connect with other journals and maybe have joint editing workshops
  • More editorial training
  • Revamp our website


Photo by Mimi Yu