Journal Club

Home » Education » Journal Club

Immunology Journal Club & Research-In-Progress

MBB 227 / PHYSIO 227
Hewitt Hall conference room (Rm 3022)
Wednesdays at Noon

Journal Club Faculty Leaders:

Eric Pearlman
Armando Villalta

Hewitt Hall 3032
Hewitt Hall 3036


For one meeting per month 2 students, who are in their 2nd year of graduate school and beyond, will present their work in a research-in-progress (RIP) format. This will provide students with the opportunity to present their work in a friendly, constructive environment and to build upon their presentation skills. For the remaining three meetings each month, a recently published research article within the broad field of immunology will be presented in a debate style format. The purpose of this presentation is to educate the general journal club about the findings of the paper and to encourage discussion of the paper’s successes, faults, relevant techniques, etc. Where possible, we will coordinate the selection of the paper for discussion with the week’s IFI seminar series so that the topic is relevant to the week’s speaker. Each student will have the chance to gain experience in each of the roles, thus strengthening their critical thinking, discussion and leadership skills. In addition, each student will receive constructive feedback on their presentation skills to facilitate increased confidence and comfort with public speaking.


  • Provide a supportive and constructive environment for graduate student training in the principles of immunology through critical examination of recent literature
  • Provide a constructive forum for students to present their research and ask for help
  • Facilitate collaborations among students via the discussion of research questions, techniques, and analyses strategies
  • Practice presentation skills that students will continue to develop and use for their scientific careers


  • Students will read the paper for discussion in advance, prepare to discuss each manuscript by formulating comments or questions about the content, and fulfill their assigned discussion role for the week
  • All students registered in the course are expected to participate in journal club presentations, to read each week’s paper in advance, and contribute to the discussion
  • Students registered in the course are expected to present their research in the RIP format at least once per year

Guidelines for Research-in-Progress Presentation:

Presenters should prepare a 20 min talk and allow for 5-10 min of questions. The presentation should incorporate:

  • Background
  • Hypothesis and specific aims
  • Recent/relevant results (not all data needs to be presented)
  • Future studies/directions
  • Acknowledgements

Remember: this is research-in-progress, so it’s ok if you don’t have a complete story to share!

Guidelines for Debate Style Journal Club Presentation

There are 2 lead roles: Discussion Leader and Data Master. Students will rotate through each role throughout the quarter so everyone can gain experience. The Discussion Leader will select the paper to be discussed each week and the Data Master will make a PowerPoint presentation of the relevant data to be presented to the group. The description and suggested questions for each role are listed below. The other members of the journal club (the Audience) will be expected to participate by asking questions and commenting on the material.

Discussion Leader

Your role is to develop at least two possible discussion areas specific to the topic of the paper that will help guide the paper discussion so everyone understands the main points of the assigned reading. As the Discussion Leader, you will also present the necessary background information for everyone to understand why and how these studies were performed. Your goal is to help people review the main points of the reading. You can prepare brief answers to your questions, but your main task is facilitating the discussion and understanding of the paper. You can also help everyone make connections among the main findings of the paper to other important concepts discussed in class or other scientific issues.

Questions to think about:

  • Who are the authors and what is their research expertise?
  • What were the main objectives of the paper?
  • Did the authors clearly deliver their ideas?
  • Was the research hypothesis supported?
  • Was this paper/study a good contribution to science?
  • Does this research connect to any other topics in this class or IFI seminars?
  • What was the status of this field prior to these studies?
  • What is this study contributing to the field?
  • What is the rationale provided by the authors for why they performed these studies?

Data Master

Your role is to locate and explain key points of data that are important to the author’s interpretation of their findings. You should share your interpretation of the data and why you are interpreting it the way you have. Discuss whether the tables, figures, etc. are necessary and relevant to the overall paper. You should be prepared to discuss the implications of the results presented, including the merits of the work and possible caveats.

Questions to think about:

  • Are the figures and tables clear?
  • What are the main findings of the paper?
  • Do the figures explain the main results?
  • Would you have presented the data differently?

Student Audience

If you were not assigned a specific role for the week, your challenge is to develop a list of thoughtful, critical questions and arguments that might be raised by reviewers, critics, or by those with different perspectives. You will need to come up with at least two challenging questions or arguments including a brief explanation of why you are making this critique. Explain where the authors made the mistake and how your research group would do it differently.

Questions to think about:

  • Is this a good paper? What did you like or dislike about the strategy?
  • Is the research scientifically sound?
  • Did the authors use good scientific methods, good number of replicates, the right kind of statistical analyses?
  • Do the flaws change the overall interpretation of the data or its relevance?


Students will be evaluated based on their preparation for the weekly discussion and participation (as evidenced by asking questions, commenting on content, or bringing up shortcomings) in the journal club. Students will provide evaluations for the course and instructors at the end of the quarter.

Scroll to Top