Melbourne School of Health SciencesDepartment of Optometry & Vision Sciences

Journal Club

Objectives & Rules

Welcome to Journal Club, 2014, which aims to provide an informal forum to discuss scientific papers each week. It will be held on Fridays between 1.00pm and 2:00pm in Meeting Room 403, 4th Floor of Alice Hoy Building in Semester 1 and 2.

Key Objectives:

  1. To provide students with an opportunity to critically read literature outside their key area of study:
    • In science, it is important to develop an appreciation of the types of questions asked over a range of disciplines, the experimental tools used to address these questions, and the limitations of these tools. Such an appreciation fosters an interdisciplinary outlook on the scientific process, and is essential when interacting with scientists of different backgrounds either at conferences or in postdoctoral postings.
  2. To provide students with an opportunity to orally present scientific papers to their peers:
    • Oral communication of ideas is an essential aspect of the scientific process, whether it be through personal interactions or at conference presentations.
  3. To provide students with an opportunity to critically discuss scientific papers:
    • Scientific isolation can breed certain problems. As Samuel Johnson wrote, "Even the acquisition of knowledge is often much facilitated by the advantages of society: he that never compares his notion with those of others readily acquiesces in his first thoughts, and very seldom discovers the objections which may be raised against his opinions: he, therefore, often thinks himself in possession of truth, when he is only fondling an error long since exploded. He that has neither companions nor rivals in his studies, will always applaud his own progress, and think highly of his performances, because he knows not that others have equalled or excelled him." Journal Club provides "the advantages of society" with fellow postgraduate students and academic staff, allowing students to gain from the experience of others.

Johnson goes on to write about the particular dangers of isolation for students: "And I am afraid it may be added, that the student who withdraws himself from the world, will soon feel that ardour extinguished which praise and emulation had enkindled, and take the advantage of secrecy to sleep, rather than to labour."

To encourage critical discussion amongst the students, two academic staff members will be rostered to moderate each session, and so will help lead the student discussion and try to ensure that all students have an opportunity to comment on the paper and ask questions. Academic staff that are not rostered for a particular week are welcome to attend if the paper being presented is of interest to them.

Journal Club Rules

In order to meet the key objectives, above, the following rules apply to Journal Club:

  1. Papers must be approved by the two moderators rostered to attend the session, to ensure Objective 1 is met. Papers may be recent publications, or may be important historical papers that demonstrate a key finding or technique in vision science. As people have many other weekly commitments and so have limited time to read each Journal Club paper, presenters should avoid selecting papers of excessive length.
  2. Once the paper has been approved, an appropriately titled pdf copy of the paper that includes the date of presentation should be placed in the "Journal Club" folder contained within the "Information" folder on the Department server, no later than a week prior to the Journal Club at which it is to be presented.
  3. PowerPoint slides and overhead projection sheets are NOT to be used (see Objective 2). This is designed to help minimise the time required for the presenting student to prepare for Journal Club, and to encourage genuine discussion (Objective 3) of the paper rather than the recitation of a pre-prepared talk. Note that all in attendence will be expected to have a copy of the paper, and that a white or black board may be used freely.
  4. Presenters should expect that all in attendance have thoroughly read the papers, and so should tailor their presentations accordingly. It is difficult to critically discuss a paper you have not completely read.
  5. When your Journal Club presentation is complete, please move the pdf copy of your paper to the appropriate subfolder within the folder "pdfs from previous Journal Club presentations".

If you are unable to attend Journal Club a particular week, please e-mail your apologies to the scheduled presenter and both moderators. This will ensure that absentees are known in advance and that no time is lost waiting for them to arrive. Please note that all post-graduate students are required to attend, and so that experiments and clinical sessions must not be rostered to clash with Journal Club.

If you have any queries or suggestions, let me know!

2014 Schedule

Acrobat pdf versions of papers, along with the current Journal Club roster, can be found on the department server at:
Information\Journal Club.

Dr Jaikishan Jayakumar
Journal Club Co-ordinator
Phone: 9035 9985

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