Special Issue Call: Big Data in Student Affairs


The Journal of Student Affairs Inquiry, Improvement and Impact (JSAIII) seeks authors for a special edition, titled Big Data in Student Affairs: The Challenge, Responsibility, and Opportunity. This special issue aims to provide a curated collection of articles for student affairs assessment professionals to understand, strategize, and navigate ways to systematically collect and integrate data that will ultimately support data-informed improvement efforts and sharing impact stories.

Examples of topics may include:

  • Context-setting articles about data lakes/warehouses/marts, different types of data visualizations using static data and/or dynamic data, and data visualization tools
  • Using big data for equity-minded and centered assessment
  • Being good data stewards - custodians of individual student information who are entrusted with its care and protection while simultaneously providing high-quality aggregate and disaggregated data to inform improvement efforts and sharing stories of impact.
  • Gaining stakeholder buy-in for adding data to a central database, particularly around sensitive data that is or can be interpreted as regulated by FERPA, HIPAA, or FOIA
  • Establishing exemplary and innovative practices regarding sharing data between departments and divisions to improve student learning, development, success, and wellbeing, while maintaining and enhancing data security.
  • Circumstances/ways in which assessment data is and is not under the purview of the IRB, especially with regard to the differences between research, evaluation, and assessment and how assessment data does or does not fit under the definition of human subjects research
  • Effective ways to disclose to students how their student records can be used
  • Strategies for systematically collecting data in different student affairs functional areas, including working with functional areas to change administrative processes.
  • Strong examples (see Inquiry, Improvement, and Impact in Action article type) to highlight tangible, easily adaptable, or replicable strategies. This could include things like how you have (a) built specific database tables or views, (b) used big data to accelerate equity-minded and focused assessment on your campus, or (c) created data visualizations that have enhanced inquiry, improvement, and impact on your campus.

JSAIII always wants to actively encourage and support authors from a variety of institutions, experiences, backgrounds, and identities to write about how our work can look different when examined from a different perspective! To that end, we recognize that this topic is broad in scope and extraordinarily complex. For this reason, we strongly encourage authors to  write with co-authors that will produce an article with a range of perspectives (e.g., professional functional areas, institutions, and identities). If you need help finding a co-author who could provide a valuable perspective, please indicate an area of expertise that you believe may enhance your proposal. From there, we can help you find a co-author. The Editorial team also reserves the right to further combine individuals/teams as we identify commonalities in submission for the issue.

For more information about submitting to JSAIII, check out the submissions website and the types of articles we are seeking. To submit a proposal,  complete the article proposal template and upload it to the JSAIII system based on the proposal instructions on the submissions website. If you have questions, contact guest co-editor Jordan Bullington-Miller or Sarah Gordon. The deadline for article proposals is June 1, 2024. Below, we have outlined the rest of the writing and publication timeline:

     June 1 Proposal Due

     June 15 Proposal Decisions

     September 30 First Draft Due

     October 31 Review of First Draft Complete

     January 31 Second Draft Due

     February 28 Review of Second Draft Complete

     March 31 Final Article Due

     May 2025 Issue Publication

Reviewer Call. At this time, we also welcome individuals interested in serving as a reviewer for this special issue to submit an application! Please complete the JSAIII Reviewer Application, which requires a letter of interest and resume/CV. If you have any questions about serving as a JSAIII reviewer for this special issue or any issue, please contact the editor, Heather Strine-Patterson.