Not really. I just don’t like what journal club has become. It has become a boring recitation of a paper. Period.
Without any general overview of the subject and context from other related literature.
Without any enthusiasm for the subject, or understanding whether or why the topic is important.
Without explanation of important terminology and jargon- indeed sometimes without the understanding of the presenter of what the jargon means.
Without participation and discussion from the non-faculty in the audience.
Without the audience coming prepared by reading the paper… and gosh, we don’t even have to go to the library and photocopy it ourselves anymore.
I’m sick to death of it, and I’m not taking it anymore.
First, for all of you that are making an effort, I applaud you. Seriously. This goes for presenters and active participants alike. It is tough to get up there in front of an audience and present something that maybe isn’t your primary area of interest, give the background, learn the jargon- explain someone else’s work in a coherent and constructively critical way. You are only at the beginning of your training, your business is going include doing some permutation of these tasks every single day of your research career. Good on you for embracing this opportunity.
Second, for those of you that just show up- you have taken the first step and I applaud you for that- but journal club is yours to improve and learn from. You need to take the next steps now- READ the paper and ASK QUESTIONS. Now don’t even tell me you were too busy to read the paper- you won’t find any sympathy from me on this one. I’ll bet you a million bucks that you and I don’t even measure busy on the same scale, and I read the paper in advance, and I looked up the jargon. This REALLY is not that time consuming, you could probably fit it in between PCR reactions.
Third- there is this issue of participation. I know you all are frightened to look like fools in front of the rest of the audience- but you are going to have to get over this one. Journal club is a fairly friendly, audience restricted venue- if you can’t test your participation skills here- where the hell can you test them?? At a Gordon Conference… or maybe at a Cold Spring Harbor meeting…? Trust me on this one and test the waters of active participation at journal club at your home institution in a more limited venue.
And what is the absolute worst that can happen if you do participate?? You could get slapped down once or twice?! I KNOW that this is hard, and it feels bad… but I promise you that it is extremely likely that tomorrow no one except you will remember whatever thing you said- and you’ll be one question closer to confidence in this area.
Finally- don’t do this because you ‘have to’ or because I told you to. Show some intellectual curiosity about your chosen field…