HHURP

Course How to Present a Paper in Journal Club:


This section outlines the style, organization and general considerations for a typical 45 min-1 hour presentation. It is meant to serve as a framework around which the presenter can devise an individualized talk. It will have to be tailored to both the paper being examined and the presenter's own style.

I. Introduction (10-12 min):

1. Begin presentations by very briefly stating the main problem(s) or hypotheses being addressed (2-5 min). Then introduce the authors, the paper and point out why the paper is important (e.g., "One of the unanswered questions in the field of eukaryotic transcription is how does a eukaryotic activator function? One hypothesis is that the activator contacts a general transcription component and this interaction helps assemble a transcription complex. This macromolecular machine then undergoes several isomerization and catalytic events that lead to strand melting and transcription initiation. This paper by the famous scientists Dr. Smith et al., entitled lah, de, dah, is exciting great science and addresses that hypothesis by showing...."). This need only be a brief overview. You will cover the rationale and background in more detail below.

2. Present a short review of the necessary background information (8-10 min or so). The presenter may want to read a review article on the topic and use this as background to provide an intellectual framework for the problem or the area being covered in the paper. Begin by restating the global problem and then in an organized fashion subdivide the problem into bits of information that are important to the actual paper being covered. However, don't make the introduction overly broad or you'll lose focus. Usually two to three schematic illustrations of the process being discussed and a description of any key proteins/systems covered in the paper will provide the necessary framework. These diagrams should be referred to periodically throughout the talk to help the class follow your presentation as it becomes more sophisticated and begins to focus on data.

II. Presenting and Evaluating Data from the Research Articles (30 min):

3. Restate the specific problem being covered and present the main conclusions up front. This helps the audience to understand the logic behind the experiments you'll be describing next (1 min) (e.g., "This paper suggests that VP16 directly contacts TFIIB because certain mutations in VP16 abolish both its ability to activate transcription and bind TFIIB) . If there is a concluding model also show that up front. Again this helps the class to follow the logic of the data presentation.

4. Briefly outline the experimental design for the paper, (e.g., "First the authors used in vitro transcription to study the effects of mutant VP16 on gene activation in a HeLa extract. They then used TFIIB affinity chromatography to determine if there was a correlation between the effects of VP16 mutants on transcription and TFIIB binding )" ( 2-3 min).

5. Explain, using few key figures from the paper, how the data support the conclusions and fit into the model. Do not try to cover every single figure or nuance in the paper or the seminar will drag out. But be careful not to make your treatment of the paper superficial. The correct balance is essential! Remember to critique the data, i.e., control experiments that should have been done or alternate explanations for the results. Use clearly labeled slides when summarizing the key figures. When describing an individual figure reiterate the reason for this particular experiment (e.g., "The authors wished to determine the effects of VP16 mutants in an in vitro transcription system."). Briefly mention how this particular experiment was done and describe what you are showing (e.g., "This is an immunoblot of ...") and be sure it is well-labeled, even if the authors failed to do so. Point out landmarks (e.g., "This band represents the primer extension product and is a measure of transcription... etc."). Group together lanes with a similar theme (e.g.,"The lanes are in sets of four; in the first group, the authors are titrating in increasing concentrations of mutant VP16. In the second group... etc."). Remember that it is not necessary to explain every lane. Pick out the crucial lanes and always contrast a result with the control, e.g., "In lane 4 the authors show that mutant VP16 does not activate transcription when compared to wt VP16 in lane 1." Sometimes it is necessary to describe how an experiment was performed; be prepared to explain the methodology if they feel it has not been explained well enough. Finally, end the discussion of each figure with a brief conclusion.

III. Summary (5 min):

6. After you've covered the paper finish with a short summary of the conclusions, how they justify (or not) the original hypotheses and make any general comments you might have on the papers. Don't be shy! It is very important to have an opinion. Finally, state what you believe the future problems or directions in the field should be. You may think you've said something before but restating the hypothesis and conclusions at different stages of the talk often helps the audience follow the paper and encourages critical discussion.

IV. Ending

7. Conclude your presentation with a simple "Thank you for your attention" or Thank you. Are there any questions?" or just "Thank you." This will eliminate the awkward pause that sometimes occurs when the audience doesn't realize the speaker has finished.

Points to enhance the presentations:

All presentations should be in powerpoint format and displayed from an LCD projector.

It is essential to rehearse your talks. Verbalizing a thought often helps one to work out the bugs and avoid hidden tongue twisters or logistical issues.

Speak to the audience not to the screen. Do not stand directly in front of the screen.

Speak loudly enough for those in the back of the room to hear you.

Text and figures must be large. A single slide should show one piece of data or at most two. If a figure in a paper has too many panels, break it up and present the pieces separately.

Avoid superficiality: Know your paper, know how experiments were carried out and know why they are important.

You will probably be interrupted. Welcome these breaks and, if appropriate, use them as springboards for discussion. Always be prepared to deviate from your game plan if necessary. Good presentations incite and invite discussion.

Good luck and don't be nervous. We're all friends and this is meant to be an educational experience!


How to Present a Research Seminar:

The structural organization of your research presentation will be quite similar to the journal club paper presentation except you are in control of the content in each section. The presentation of data should be 30 min with 10 min allocated for discussion and questions.

I: Introduction:

1. Begin with a slide containing the title of your talk with your name below it.

2. Next, illustrate the important objectives of your research (or important conclusions).

3. Bring in enough background information (i.e., text, diagrams, charts) to allow the audience to understand the significance of your research. Focus on concepts that would be relevant to your research data. Do not overemphasize the introductory material.The main thrust of the presentation is a critical analysis of your own research. Remember --- balance!

4. Present schematic diagrams to explain your research plan.

II: Results:

5. Organize the presentation of your results based on concepts that will allow the audience to follow the logic of your conclusions.To put it another way. There are as many ways to present the same data but you should decide what way would be easiest for the audience to follow. Don't present the data based purely on the chronological order in which you performed the experiments. Slides should be titled and labeled to allow the audience to understand what the slide is showing and how the data are organized.

6. Cover the methods of the experiment at the same time as you present the data. Explain the methods in enough detail to allow the audience to understand what's being done, but don't overdo it or you might lose the audience. Sometimes a brief one-sentence description of a familiar technique is enough (i.e., this is a western blot of…). However, be prepared to explain methods in more detail if someone asks. For particularly long methods or complex procedures a slide with a flow chart is useful before presenting the data.

III: Conclusions:

7. Concisely summarize the main conclusions of your work. Textual and cartoon summary slides are helpful. Briefly re-visit the result that supports each major conclusion (if time allows).

8. Describe future directions (always use a slide here) especially in line with what your research might have brought up.

9. The final slide should acknowledge your mentor or colleagues that helped you in your work.

10. Be prepared for questions from the audience. Questions are usually good! They mean you have captured the audience's attention.