The In’s & Out’s

Place: A room will be booked 1000-1130 every week (JC to last 1000-1100). If there is an external speaker the journal club will take place in the 3rd floor breakout area of SAF at 1100-1200.

Schedule:  James produces a schedule every 3-4 months, once this has been set, the presenter/organiser is responsible for organising a swap if they can’t make that date.  If you are unsure of the schedule, check the blogsite. Please let us know once decided so that we can keep up to date.

Participants/Attendance:  In addition to all of the students, James attends regularly and will be on the schedule and present papers occasionally.  If you can’t attend please let James, the presenter and your supervisor know. We see this as an important part of your scientific training.  We are also happy to have any other members of the department attend and if you want to present occasionally please let us know.


Guest speakers.  These JCs will be a team effort, with everyone expected to attend and read the paper in advance.  The paper will be one of the seminar speaker own, selected by them.  This is great opportunity for the students to discuss research, in all its facets, with leaders in their field. It usually happens in the breakout area.

Format A. “Traditional journal club”. Papers selected on a basis of scientific excellence / significance / interest / controversy rather than relevance to a particular area.  Sent to James for vetting by the Monday before the journal club and circulated that Monday to everyone on the list so that everyone has a week to have a look (and is reminded well in advance).  Papers are presented using Powerpoint, etc. to introduce the area and give a little background, explain any unfamiliar approaches and present figures in the paper. The presenter should also prepare a slide or two on what they conclude from the paper and why it is significant for discussion.

Format B. “Jigsaw Paper”. Presenter/organiser selects a paper (and sends it to  James for vetting) but none of the other students see it until the day of the JC. On the day, the presenter / organiser gives a brief introduction and then all the students will be split into groups with each group given a figure to look at for 15 min. Each group will then take it in turns to present the figure with the others asking questions/critiquing. At the end you will have to work out the order of the figures and the main conclusions that can be drawn.

Format C. “Update”. Discuss papers from 2 journals that each participant is responsible for monitoring for the previous month. At the JC each participant will have 5 minutes just to tell the others about a couple of papers you found interesting or others may find interesting and why they are important. If it is something the other students find interesting/useful then they will then be able to follow it up afterwards.

Format D. “Compare & Contrast”. The organiser and James together select two papers which may provide contrasting conclusions. Papers are chosen by the organiser vetted and circulated 2 weeks in advance. Participants are split into two groups. During the JC, each group will take it in turns to present and promote their paper emphasising why it’s important within the field and the advances it makes. The other group will have to really critique the paper, arguing flaws with the experimental design, presentation of results, conclusions drawn and relevance/novelty relative to literature. At the end we can have a discussion about the holes in the research and what experiments you would like to be done to develop the field.


The Blog:

The blog is an opportunity for 2 students to work together to summarize one paper or presentation discussed during journal club for that month, and practice scientific communication to a more general audience, taking complex data and reducing it in an accurate and approachable manner. Blogs should be between 300 and 500 words long, be appropriately referenced, and ideally feature one figure. They should be written in approachable, “layman’s” english and focus as much on the interest and importance, now and in the future, of the work, as the technical details.  The pair can decide how to allocate writing and editing, and ask James for advice if needed (remembering he is both dyslexic and often wrong). The blog should be written promptly and emailed to James at the end of each month. Students can also feel free to write a blog on anything that has particularly excited them in science recently.