Journal Club

An introduction to basic research methodology.

The millions of scholarly articles that are published continuously in the literature form the primary sources of information and knowledge that drive all research and development activity. The various 'Journal Clubs' are lodged in the academic timetables of every university department worldwide. They can, at their most impressive, be very formal conferences that last a full week. However, they are more usually informal departmental meetings that provide a weekly opportunity to meet over a packed lunch to discuss a selected research paper that is being presented by a junior member of the department.  They thus form one of the core elements of a university education.  We get our first taste of this process when we present our project findings to our classmates at school; we work up to a 5-minute presentation during our college years, onto a far more challenging 15 minutes (plus questions...) as an undergraduate, and then the 'full half-hour' at Journal Club.  These are the precursors of the formal academic seminar or research presentation.

Our Journal Club takes place as a fortnightly tutorial to study one of those 'selected papers' in detail, leading up to an informal presentation of that paper at the end of the academic year. The format is simple: the tutorial series starts by reading through each of the papers, learning and discussing the new vocabulary, concepts, processes and methods as we progress. The student will need to have a good understanding of English grammar plus Maths, Chemistry and Biology at GCSE level 7 and be studying Chemistry and Biology at A level or be taking them as 'highers' in the IB framework. This is a fairly demanding undertaking: in addition to the tutorials themselves, it is expected that students would need to read through the papers under study several times over the course of the year. This will entail a reading commitment of about 3-6 hours weekly. However,by the time we make our university (or job) applications, we will have spent several years punching way above our academic weight; in our final exams and at interview, it will show.

This tutorial series is designed to do a number of things. It will equip students with an academic skill-set that will match international standards; this will be several years ahead of when they would normally develop it in a typical UK college. This ensures that they are always in those critical higher percentiles. The papers are selected from open access journals only (free to download); they are introductory level papers (first year undergraduate) and so will serve happily as a basis for a top-notch IB extended essay or dissertation. Students will gain insights into some of the fundamental principles of cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology and pathology that underpin all the biological sciences. It serves too as a primer of basic research methodology: preliminary academic scaffolding and a foretaste of the workload ahead. Students become familiar with the vocabulary, nature and processes of academic research. Students will certainly be able to discuss a paper and they may even be able to present it.The emphasis is on developing scientific conservatism: authoritative in the 1% that we do know, humbled by the 99 we don't. This genuine academic confidence ensures the best possible performance at interview.

This is a significant undertaking on the part of the student: we would be more than happy to discuss any element of this series of activities. Please feel free to contact us for more information.
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A ribbon of blue, white and red longitudinal stripes extends down the left margin of the page.  This is a cultural reference to the 'tricolore cockade' of post-revolutionary France, and reflects the design of the French Flag, the Tricolore.
A ribbon of blue, white and red longitudinal stripes extends down the left margin of the page.  This is a cultural reference to the 'tricolore cockade' of post-revolutionary France, and reflects the design of the French Flag, the Tricolore.