Journal Club - Fall Term 2014

The Journal Club takes place every Tuesday during term, from 10:30-11:15, in the seminar room of the Zoological Institute (Vesalgasse 1, first floor). For questions regarding this seminar please contact: The introductory discussion (Vorbesprechung) for this course takes place on Tuesday, 17.9.2013, in the seminar room. The list of journal club dates is provided below.

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Date Paper Presenter
16. Sept. course introduction and discussion -
23. Sept.
30. Sept.
07. Oct.
14. Oct.
21. Oct.
28. Oct.
04. Nov.
11. Nov.
18. Nov.
25. Nov.
02. Dec.
09. Dec.
16. Dec.

How it works:

The aim of the journal club is that we train ourselves in evaluating primary scientific research, and practicing scientific discussion/debate. Why is a study interesting? Is it experimentally well performed and analyzed correctly? Are the conclusions justified or do the authors over-interpret their findings? Questions such as these are often not easy to answer. But they make up a central component of scientific debate, work and progress.

For each journal club session, one participant presents a recent research paper. The presenting participant makes a suggestion for a paper to the moderator (, who then decides if it is suitable for discussion. General criteria for paper selection are: 1) that the paper's content is within the broader field of evolutionary biology, 2) that it is a primary research paper (not a review), 3) that it was published recently (within the last five years), 4) and that it was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Also, shorter papers with a simple message are preferable. The presenter has to send the paper suggestion as pdf to the moderator at least two weeks before his/her session. After approval, the pdf document will be provided by e-mail to all participants. All discussions will be in English.

What's new:

The main goal of journal clubs is that participants get to practice the critical reading and discussion of published primary research. Another central skill, also requiring practice, is the defense of research and the effective countering of the critizism raised by others. Together, critizism and defense make up scientific debate - e.g., in discussions with colleagues, when you present your MSc-project at the research seminar, when you present your research at a conference, or in your PhD-defense. This semester, the journal club will include practicing both these skills. It will be held as a "scientific court", where participants each week are randomly allocated to two groups: the offense and the defense (if you are among the defense or offense in the next journal club session will be communicated by e-mail). The presenting participant (who suggested the paper) gives a short overview of the content of the paper (max. 15 minutes) with special attention to: background for understanding the question at hand, experimental approaches and details, results and conclusions. The presenter can choose if he/she wants to be in the offense or defense role. In the subsequent discussion, offense play the usual role of critically questioning the paper, and the defense the role of countering these comments and defending the study. All participants are expected to have read the paper before the discussion. More details will be provided in the introductory discussion

In order to receive the 2 KPs for this course the participants have to present a paper during the Seminar and write a short (about 2-3 pages) summary of the article, focussing on the following aspects:

(1) Background - What do we know ?
(2) Question - What was the question tackled by researchers in this paper?
(3) Material and Methods - What was the main experimental approach?
(4) Results and Discussion - What are the main results and conclusions presented in the paper?
(5) Group Discussion Summary - What were the main critizism of the offense, what the main counterarguments of the defense? Did we come to an agreement with the conclusions? What did we learn? What should be done differently in the study? What would be interesting subsequent experiments?

Previous Journal Clubs: