Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Library News

On Campus

Clocks and Clouds Provides a Showcase for Outstanding Undergraduate Research

Clocks + Clouds

Serving the AU community with our collection of over 767,923 volumes, 333,242 e-books, 25,000 sound recordings and 16,000 videos, the American University Library offers the resources our students need to achieve academic success. The AU Library collection totals over 106,881 journal subscriptions, 557 print journals, and over 403 databases covering a vast range of subjects. With access to this wealth of resources, AU students are able to produce outstanding research and embark on ambitious projects, the likes of which can be seen in undergraduate research journal Clocks and Clouds.

Launched in 2012, American University undergraduate research journal Clocks and Clouds is a publication with a mission. The team that works on this journal is dedicated to giving undergraduate students an opportunity to do more with their research by highlighting how their work can reach a broader audience and have an impact outside of the classroom. A joint effort between the School of International Service and the School of Public Affairs, this journal focuses on research relating to political science, international relations, and public policy. In an increasing interdisciplinary academic environment, this does not limit Clocks and Clouds to the work of students in SIS or SPA. Additionally, while the journal exclusively publishes undergraduate work, students may submit articles up to one year after graduation.

By providing AU undergraduate students with a chance to have their work appear in a peer reviewed journal, Clocks and Clouds is able to serve as a stepping stone toward submitting work to national publications and making presentations at research conferences. Although Clocks and Clouds only publishes a select few of the submissions received, this selection process offers an excellent learning experience for any students submitting work. The journal’s panel of peer reviewers provides students with thoughtful feedback and suggestions on how they can improve their work and writing.

Working at Clocks and Clouds is another way for students to gain experience and make connections. The journal puts each of their reviewers through a rigorous training process; no small feat with a staff of more than 20 students. Through their work as reviewers, these students gain insight into the processes of research and writing, develop copy editing skills, get a sense of the scope of research in their chosen field, and enjoy networking opportunities on campus. While the journal requires that applicants for reviewer positions have taken, or are taking, a “Research Methods” course, freshmen may apply as ‘junior reviewers,’ allowing them to grow into a peer reviewer position as their college career progresses. As Clocks and Clouds expands and grows, the journal is hoping to recruit more students from the fields of marketing and communications. Students interesting in working as reviewers for the journal can visit their online application form.

Curious about the title of the journal? It references a quote from philosopher Karl Popper: "All clouds are clocks, even the most cloudy of clouds." The Clocks and Clouds website explains further: "Philosopher Karl Popper’s “clocks and clouds” metaphor describes the two ends of the spectrum of predictability in social science: Clouds represent the disorderly and irregular, and clocks represent the predictable and rational. By providing a venue for top undergraduate research, Clocks and Clouds aims to find the clocks amidst the clouds."

Volume 1, released in spring 2012, is available online. The next issue of Clocks and Clouds will be released on April 17th and copies will be available at the 18th SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium. Anyone interested in getting involved with the release, obtaining back issues, or learning more about the journal can email