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J-Club participation: advice for students

MichelleLOyen's picture

Now that the Journal Club is getting started, I wanted to post some advice for students who may not have participated in such a forum in the past, either online or in person. The fun of a J-club includes the opportunity to broaden your understanding of the literature of a broad field (like mechanics) by reading carefully-selected groups of papers on small topics of interest to different sub-communities. The challenge in participating in the subsequent discussion is ensuring that you understand the papers sufficiently to participate confidently in the ensuing discussion. This will also prepare you to be a good reviewer for technical journals some day.

 

The first step is to establish the content of the papers that have been selected. From a student's perspective, this means reading the content sufficiently thoroughly to have stood up (in a live J-club) and presented a summary of the paper to the group. For this online forum, you should be able to post a summary of the paper contents in the discussion forum for the J-club or on your own blog! Points to consider in making these summaries:

(1) Have the authors identified a clear gap in the literature that they will try to address in the current study? What is it?

(2) Do the authors clearly articulate the contributions of previous publications on this topic?

(3) What approach do the authors take to address the current gap in knowledge?

(4) Are the methods explained to the point that you could repeat the experiment or re-create the model?

(5) What are the key results? Are the results unambiguous?

(6) Do the authors address limitations to their approach in the discussion?

(7) Are the current results put into context with the existing literature in the discussion?

(8) Is there any hint on outlook or future directions for this work?

and most importantly:

(9) Does the paper leave you with a clear conclusion that you can easily articulate in a paragraph or two based on a thorough reading of the paper? (Note that sometimes the conclusion is that there is not yet sufficient information to draw a firm conclusion!)

 

Hopefully this list (and other feedback provided by J-club veterans) will inspire a few students to post summaries of the three papers being considered in the inaugural J-club!

 

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