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Presenting at Science Journal Club

Updated on August 23, 2013

What is a journal club?

A journal club is an educational group meeting. The members of the group will present and discuss the research articles from their respective field. In some courses, such as Ph.D. program, participation in regular journal club meetings is mandatory. There are several advantages of part-taking in journal club: (1) Often, the presentation and discussion will stimulate to generate new ideas and set goal for future research (2) In addition; it will improve your literature evaluation and logical reasoning skills (3) Further the meeting provides a platform to learn, share and discuss controversial findings in your field. This hub will provide you with some useful tips to prepare and present for your journal club.

How to choose a paper for a journal club: This is the first important step to be successful in your journal club presentation. Select a paper that is relevant to your thesis or project or laboratory program. Read the paper critically, and make sure that you understand all sections of the paper. The selected paper should interest your club meeting members. Pick the paper from a journal that has a high-impact factor, because it suggests that it has been peer-reviewed by experts in the field. Prefer the paper that has been published recently. Current publications will have novel hypothesis or methodologies, which will interest your journal club member. Usually, review articles are not presented in journal club.

Sections of the presentation: Typically any research paper will have following sections: background or introduction, methods, results, discussion. You should prepare for each of these sections in advance and practice your talk to be popular in journal club meetings.

Introduction/Background: This section is about the previous work in the field, the research question that is not been fully understood, and how the authors are trying to address those problems in the current paper. You can describe all these details by citing prior work, explaining the main topic of the paper and how it is relevant to your group’s research work and so on.

Experimental design: Have a slide to show how the experiments have been designed to address the hypothesis of the paper. If you think that there was a better way to design the experiments present it with justification.

Methods: You can use a couple of slides to show the methods used throughout the paper. You can tell your opinion about the methods used. What are the strengths and weakness of the methods used? Were there any alternative procedures/methods that could have been used? If the paper contains use of animal models, are the animals treated humanely? Whether each of the procedures used in the study have been fully described with references, routes of drug administration, and can other labs repeat the methods used in this paper. These are some of the things that you can think of to discuss about methods.

Results: You don’t have to prepare any new graphs of the results. Just copy it directly from the paper to the slide. Make sure you include the title of the graph/table, foot note, statistical significant symbols and any relevant references. While showing the results you can make you own comments. Whether the authors have presented well, was there any other better way to present it, any typo or statistical error, missing data and so on. This will demonstrate your ability in giving right suggestions and informs how carefully you have read the paper.

Discussion: The important part of any publication is the discussion. Look carefully into each paragraph and see whether the authors have reported appropriate reasons for each of the experiments they have carried out. How they have interpreted the results, have they provided sufficient references to support their findings, have they set any future objectives, how their findings contribute to the field, are some of the things you should look out under discussion section.

Audience comments and discussion: Here comes the evaluation part of your presentation. Faculty members, students and postdocs will ask you questions and comments on your presentation. The questions are aimed to test your knowledge within the field and to see how well you have prepared. The questions may be related to the background of the paper that you are presenting; about experimental design; results and any contradictory results; statistics used for data analysis, and discussion. So prepare well for the expected questions. You can also expect questions outside the topic you are presenting. Handle those questions carefully. If you don’t know the answers say don't know. Because many times the questionnaire will know the answer, and they just want to participate in the discussion.

Citations: If you choose to present some classical papers than you should explain the impact of that paper on the field. Additionally, you should mention how many times the paper has been cited by others. You can present the citation report as a bar graph.

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Good Luck! With your presentation


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