Journal Club

Well, yesterday was much better. But on to other things... Ah, yes. Journal Club.

For people not in my department (I have no idea how prevalent these things are), they work like this: One student picks a paper not in his/her specific field, but within the purvey of biochemistry. Next, this student reads said paper and learns all the ins and outs of it. Thus, attempting to become a pseudo-expert of it within two or three weeks (normal prep time). When the day of their presentation occurs, they stand up in front of the entire department (mandatory for students and most faculty member show up) and present a prepared presentation. During this time, he/she is interrupted frequently to clarify and provide background on this paper and/or to defend the work of the authors (at the very least he/she should be able to justify its publication in the Journal). All students must present at this Journal Club once per academic year. One can “choose” (read: strong-armed) to join an additional journal club that's within one's specific field.

These things are all well and good, but I never can prepare for them properly. The idea that I'm supposed to add two extra papers to my ever-growing stack of things to read, and bump these papers to the top of my to-read list, is a bit... presumptuous. I barely have enough time to do my own reading (especially now... did everyone wait to publish in 2008?), let alone extra reading that is not in my field. Plus, if the student is going to present the paper to me, do I really need to read it myself? (I know the answer to that, consider it rhetorical.)

Still, I have this sneaking suspicion that if I want to do this (that is be a scientist in an academic setting) for the rest of my life, I really should act like it and read those bloody papers.


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