Notes from Science Land: typical meeting types
Someone wrote it asking what Journal Club is for.
Basically, there are two types of meetings that the uninitiated might find unfamiliar.
1. Lab meeting.
There are different ways to do this. Most groups do it once a week.
Usually depends on the PI being in town.
Then there are two common ways to conduct it, and variations thereof.
Each person presents a 5-10 minute update on their progress.
Most common in smaller labs, or labs where the PI can't be bothered to meet with everyone individually, but wants to be up to date on the latest gel ASAP.
One person presents each week.
More common in larger labs, particularly those with lots of postdocs who don't need or expect a lot of guidance from the PI, but who get the most useful feedback from their peers.
Sometimes exploited for kiss-ass types to show off how much they know, both in their own presentations and while criticizing their fellow lab members.
Also useful as a practice ground for job talks and thesis presentations.
These vary from lab to lab. Sometimes no one says anything, except for the presenter and the PI. In other labs, each slide is interrupted by a question from lab members, which can be productive but also lead to very lengthy meetings.
2. Journal Clubs
These vary from within the lab, to multi-lab, to topic-specific multi-lab.
Typically, someone picks a paper or three and sends these out in pdf format (nowadays... I remember when we used to xerox them all, ugh).
Then there are two main variations on this.
The person who picked the papers gives a presentation.
This usually consists of:
-A summary of relevant background (this is the part that, in my experience, varies the most in quality)
-Going through the figures, usually in order, explaining what was shown and how believable it is, and if not, then why not, and what they should have done differently to make it more convincing.
-Usually starts with a statement on why this paper was chosen over all the other possibilities that week/month/year.
-Usually concludes with a statement basically summarizing the consensus of whether it was a good example of how to write a paper, or how this is an example of something really provocative that will change the way we think... or why it's most likely crap.
Every once in a while, someone will get riled up enough to write a letter to an editor saying that the paper is obviously crap and here's our data showing why. I'm always entertained by that.
The group discusses the papers, with the person who picked them acting as moderator. This is the format usually used in grad-level classes where students learn to (ahem, SHOULD learn to) read papers critically.
Recently, I've noticed a number of disturbing trends with Journal Clubs.
Here are some of the most egregious:
1. Using Journal Club as a platform to present your own work (mentioned in last post). In case you're wondering, that's what lab meeting is for.
(Thanks for all the comments, I was amused.)
2. Picking only papers from collaborators (egoism next to godliness).
3. Picking only papers from Nature journals.
4. Getting rid of Journal Club altogether because nobody can be bothered to read papers, much less discuss them.
5. Picking way too many papers (on the order of 5 papers).
6. Picking papers based on the least number of figures (as if those are easier to present. HINT: THEY'RE NOT.)
7. Not bothering to prepare a presentation or look up unfamiliar jargon before showing up to give Journal Club. Then when the audience asks you, the moderator, to explain the paper, you can't, because you didn't do your homework.