Journal Club Requirements

This weekly session is a major focal point of the Neuroscience Training Program. Students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty select a current research article that they find noteworthy, and present appropriate background, the article itself, and the presenter’s critique of the work. The diversity of topics selected by the student and faculty members and inputs from attendees makes this an important learning opportunity for the presenters and attendees. A goal for each speaker is to allow researchers with diverse interests and backgrounds to appreciate the subject matter of the selected paper.

Students are required to participate in Neuroscience Journal Club (MEDS 6497)  throughout their graduate training. Grades are based on attendance, the student’s own presentation, and on participation in the presentations of others. Senior graduate students who have obtained approval from their thesis examination committee to begin writing their doctoral thesis are exempt from attending in the semester of thesis defense. First year students consult their Rotation Supervisor or other program faculty for help in selecting an article. Third-year students and beyond present twice a year: a research-in-progress seminar based on their thesis work and a second presentation of a paper selected from the literature. This gives each student experience in talking publicly about his or her work, in an environment made up of familiar colleagues. In addition, these presentations acquaint people in the program with each student’s work and foster exchange of information and expertise.

Expectations for students:

  1. Students are expected to attend the presentation in person, not by videoconference. Please contact the course co-directors to request accommodation under special circumstances.
  2. For the journal club presentation (all students):
    1. Students should consult their advisor for help in selecting an article.
    2. The proposed article should be emailed to the course supervisors (Drs. Guzzo and Martinelli) two weeks (14 days) prior to the scheduled presentation for approval. Please provide a short written justification for article selection.
    3. The student’s advisor should not be an author on the selected paper.
    4. The presentation should be 40 – 45 minutes long, allowing 15 – 20 minutes of time for discussion and questions. Approximately 15 minutes should be devoted to introduction. This introduction is not just an introduction to the article, but a teaching opportunity for audience members not familiar with this field. It is expected that the student practice this presentation beforehand, to ensure that it is no longer than 45 min. Generally, a student practices this talk with their advisor and/or their lab, although this can be decided upon between the advisor and student. We suggest the student practice the talk before their lab/advisor at least the Friday before the presentation. Regardless of the venue, the student is expected to rehearse the presentation to ensure timeliness.
    5. The presenter is expected to be the time-keeper. The presenter knows how many slides remain, therefore if questions and discussions appear to be taking more than 15-20 minutes, the presenter should politely end the discussion and continue presenting slides, with support from course supervisors as needed.
    6. Although the student ultimately decides how to present the data of the paper, we suggest the following: don’t present every panel in every figure. For example, many figures are essentially control experiments, and only need to be discussed if a question is asked about them. These figures can be placed on slides but only shown if needed.
    7. The course co-directors will serve as moderators of the question period following the last slide.
    8. Immediately after the final question and the general audience leaves the room, there will be a short meeting whereby the student will receive oral feedback by several professors in attendance.
    9. Grading of the presentation will account for 50% of the student’s final grade for this course. One of the items which will factor into the grade will be the student’s time management.
    10. At each presentation, evaluation forms will be available for students, postdoctoral fellows, and other faculty in attendance to provide their written comments. All forms will be given to the student following their presentation. These may be anonymous or signed.
    11. The presenter should show up 15-20 minutes before their scheduled presentation to set up the computer. The presenter is also responsible for ensuring chairs/tables are properly arranged in the room before the presentation.
  3. Research in Progress (3rd year and beyond):
    1. We have the same expectations for time management and practicing the talk beforehand.
    2. For those students who present both a journal club and a Research in Progress, each talk accounts for 25% of the final grade.
    3. Research in Progress (3rd year and beyond):
  4.  Participation:
    1. Turn your phone off. Seriously.
    2. Attendance is required and will be recorded.
    3. If the presentation is a journal club article, students are expected to read the article beforehand. The article may be outside the student’s field, so the student does not need to become an expert in that field, but the student should at least read the article.
    4. Participation in the presentations of others is required. This will involve asking questions. 50% of the grade for this course is based on participation. You are expected to speak up. The course co-directors will monitor active participation, or lack thereof.