Neuroscience Journal Club

The current schedule can be viewed below. If you would like to volunteer to lead a discussion, send an email to: . We have discussion leaders for the remainder of this semester (yay!). Clicking on a date/time will reveal details for that day. For those that prefer, a hardcopy of the schedule can be found here.

Tips for Leading a Journal Club:

Paper Selection
This truly is one of the most difficult things about leading a journal club discussion.  Students and Faculty are encouraged to select papers that are thought to be of interest to a wide range of journal club members (we are a diverse group!).   One of the goals is to give faculty and students the opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion about important topics in neuroscience – something we all share an interest in!

Questions you should be asking yourself are:

  1. Why would the audience be interested in this paper?
  2. Will it generate excitement for the subject matter in someone that does not do this type of research?
  3. Can I make the information in this paper relevant to all (or at least most of) this audience?

If you answered yes to all three, you have a Neuro JC paper!

With this in mind, selecting papers from a specific discipline is fine but the implications should be far reaching.

Obviously, we are not all experts in every facet of neuroscience so picking a paper that you thought was really important, but want to hear what your colleagues think about it is one way to capitalize on the broad range of neuroscience expertise we have at USD. 

Alternatively, if there is a new methodology or technique that has become important in your field and has the opportunity to make waves in other disciplines, a journal club presentation is a great way to keep your colleagues informed as to what the future holds, and hear about their opinions on new trends in the field.

Finally, and this is directed towards the students in our group, I would be happy to suggest some articles that I think may be a particularly good fit (and I’m sure your PI would be happy to do the same).

Paper Presentation

In general, the journal club discussion should have three components: a short overview of the background of the reviewed paper, a critical data-based review of the key findings, and a brief summary of the significance of the paper.

We are hoping for more than a summary of what was stated in the original article!  For example, you might provide a more in-depth explanation of a new technique used in the paper, important caveats or interpretations that the author did not mention, or a distinct interpretation of the results in the context of work that the author did not discuss.

The journal club should focus on the most important results – there is rarely reason to discuss every figure.  When leading the discussion, both students and faculty should feel free to ask others’ of their opinions. 

We have a considerable amount of expertise at our disposal, and can take advantage of this fact.  DO NOT FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO PRESENT THE WHOLE PAPER.  Ask your colleagues what they think (either directly, hey Dr. X, what did you think about that result), or open it up to the floor (Do I have a volunteer to discuss Figure 2?)

To Power Point or not to Power Point?

This is completely up to you, and however you feel you will be most able to encourage and lead the discussion. I would recommend that you do not become reliant on your power point slides, as this turns the journal club into more of a lecture than a discussion. It may be useful to have certain key points or figures that you want to explain in a power point slide so everyone knows what you are referring to.