University of Vermont

Neuroscience Graduate Program

NGP Journal Club

ANNB 381/382 is a graduate student-run journal club with research presentations and critical review of the literature in the neurosciences. Participation is open to all graduate students, but required of Neuroscience Graduate Program and Anatomy and Neurobiology Graduate students each semester.


  • Increase breadth of neuroscience knowledge.
  • Practice organizing and giving talks in a safe environment.
  • Encourage reading of primary literature.
  • Practice mentoring and giving constructive critical feedback.
  • Strengthen engagement of critical thinking skills and asking questions.

This is a student-run journal club; if you have comments or suggestions, share them with the student coordinators or faculty advisors.


Student Coordinators:  Two student coordinators volunteer to co-facilitate journal club annually.  Duties include:

  • Choose the year’s topic and discuss this with faculty advisor (midsummer).
  • Work with program assistant to make room and projector reservations and to coordinate Fall schedule with Ann Chauncey and MD/PhD seminars.
  • Coordinate (with help of program assistant) an initial meeting with all students and faculty advisors.  This meeting typically entails
    • This year’s topic
    • Schedule (see more below)
    • “What makes a good presentation”
    • Pizza
  • Generally monitor the journal club experience; be available to answer student questions; check in with students/mentors, advisors throughout the year and help to remedy any issues.
  • Help to set up the room. For assistance with AV, press the "Help" button on the projector controls (HSRF conference rooms). This sends a page to the AV technician on duty. Alternatively, call Marc Scarano, Multimedia Technician, office: (802) 656-4771, cell: (802) 338-5868 or Bruce Kimball cell: 999-4874.
  • Administer evaluation forms each week, being sure to have enough copies and to collect them afterward, and perhaps bring extra pens.  (See Article Eval Form and Dissertation Update Eval Form on shared drive.)
  • Take student attendance and report absences to faculty advisor.
  • Solicit volunteer student coordinators for the next year.
Faculty Advisors: Rae Nishi and Felix Eckenstein
  • Provide feedback to student coordinators on the topic and expectations.
  • Be available for introductory meeting and assist in discussion of “what makes a good presentation”.
Student Mentors:  3rd-5th year students volunteer to mentor 1st-year students. Duties include:
  • Communicate with and be available for matched first-year student.
  • Help determine suitability of a paper if need be.
  • Read and understand the paper.
  • Help to determine what background information to include.
  • Encourage opportunities to practice the presentation and give feedback.


  • Fall Semester - Wednesdays, 12:30-1:30 pm; Spring semester - Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 pm.
  • ANNB 381/382 is a required class.  If lab meetings or other commitments conflict, please ask that the lab meeting be changed or to be excused from the meeting for the club. Attendance is important.  First absence – no questions asked; any thereafter must be approved excused absences by the faculty advisor. Two unexcused absences will lead to a grade of “unsatisfactory” for the semester. Also, try to reschedule amongst your peers if you foresee a conflict with your journal club date.  Notify the program assistant to change online.
  • First year students will be scheduled for the spring so that they will have time, depending on class schedules, to attend a few presentations and get a sense of what to expect.  Match more senior students who volunteer to mentor first-year students, taking turns as appropriate.
  • Third year students should schedule their journal club taking care not to conflict with their qualifying exam timeline.
  • Grad students who have completed their dissertation proposal over a year ago present a dissertation research update, which can include a brief overview of their research projects.  This way new students can see what research is going on in labs, what life is like after classes, etc. 

Notes on process

As a general rule, choose a journal article outside of the work from the lab.  Do not choose a paper that you are an author on--though the journal article can certainly be within your field of interest! Have fun with this opportunity.Email the program assistant the title and PubMed citation for your paper at least two weeks ahead of your presentation date.  (The program assistant will: create posters to distribute, add your information to the Journal Club page and the Events page on the Neuroscience Grad Program web site, and send email announcements.  (FYI, posters and poster templates created by the program assistant can be found on the ANNB Shared drive in the Grad Students folder.)  The present week’s speaker is introduced by the prior week’s speaker, in order to practice this skill.  To prepare, communicate with the speaker to learn about their background and interests.Evaluations are your opportunity to provide your valuable feedback to your fellow journal club presenters.  Please take advantage of this with seriousness.  If you do not have enough time after the journal club, fill out the evaluation and submit it later to a student coordinator.The program assistant will review the email distribution list annually and add anyone who has requested to be added to the list.  The list can be found on the Shared drive.  The program assistant will email announcements to ANNB dept (staff, students, postdocs) plus NGP faculty and students with a note asking them to distribute the notice to students and postdocs and to post the announcement.  The program assistant will make paper copies to post in Given and HSRF 4th floors and send one copy each to the 12 basic science departments on campus.


Last modified August 08 2013 03:37 PM