Student journal club

Updated 2014 March 6th: I have begun to provide summaries of papers I’ve read at my second Wiki.

I have recently volunteered to organise the student journal club at my institute. I asked for the job because I am not particularly well organised, so I thought I could improve on this aspect. Another reason was that I wanted some change. In the past, we chose a paper of our choice, explained the paper and the audience asked some questions. It became a weekly chore for us and the energy level at these meetings sometimes gets a bit low. Now I work in Japan and people are much less vocal here as compared to Australia; I guess it’s in the culture. I would like to ask them for new ideas for some changes but anticipate that there won’t be as much discussion as I’d hoped. I have many ideas on how I can run the club but I don’t want to impose them on everyone since I may be the only one that thinks it’s cool. For example when I read a paper I try to understand every aspect of the methods (most times to no avail). I actually would perfer if people spent more time discussing the methods. But I know those who just want the gist of the methods and want to focus more on the results.

So my question is how should a student journal club be run? How can students benefit the most from such an event? What are the skills that students should develop for the future? How can we learn to properly critique someone’s research? Here are some of my random ideas (at 2am in the morning).

As I mentioned it takes me an incredibly long time to read a paper because for everything I don’t know I look it up (and there’s just so much I don’t know). I thought it would be cool if we all read the same paper and discussed it as a group. Or we could just focus on one particular aspect of a paper; a rifle approach as opposed to a shotgun approach.

I enjoy tutorials a lot and I would like students to give tutorials on what they’re an expert in.

We can discuss historical and landmark papers; I recently found out that Nature created a series called Nature milestones, which highlights research that has had significant impact. We can learn how others discovered major findings.

We can look at papers that have been retracted to understand how people have made mistakes in the intepretation of results (if that’s the underlying reason).

We can discuss the future of biology/medicine/science. We can discuss ethics, what we want to do or achieve, etc.

There’s so much that could be done. Got some suggestions? Please leave me a comment 🙂


Through the awesome power of Twitter I learned of The Microbiology Twitter Journal Club. Will definitely get some ideas there. Check it out.

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