Action Potential

Online journal club at Nature Network

I apologize for the blatant promotion, but I wanted to bring your attention to a new forum designed to spur on discussion involving interesting neuroscience papers. I categorized this under “What’s new in NN?”, except here, the “NN” is different: Nature Network. This platform has been around for some time now, but I am new to it. I recommend that you check out the site, as it aims to connect scientists on both the local and global levels (but unless you are in Boston or London, the local part is still being rolled out).

In the Neuroscience group, we are starting an online journal club featuring interesting papers from any journal for discussion. These journal clubs will be written up by experts in each respective field (except those that I do; I am going to fake my way through whatever topics don’t get covered by the experts…). These experts will be students and post-docs discussing somebody else’s work, in the classic spirit of a journal club.

This forum is designed to teach the non-specialist about certain neuroscience sub-fields in which they may have some interest, as well as to feature important findings that very well may pertain to the current work of the specialist. Hopefully, the discussion will include the following (and more): questions being asked regarding the data or conclusions of the study; inquiries made as to how to successfully implement particular methodologies; reasons given for why additional data would help the authors solidify their conclusions; suggestions floated as to what the next steps should be in the follow-up experiments.

We will try to get one posted once a week or once every two weeks; hopefully we can at least meet the latter goal. As usual, suggestions and comments on this proposal are welcome, and if you would like to participate or suggest a paper, feel free to contact me directly.


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    DSK Samways said:

    Nice idea. Although, as much as real journal clubs generally benefit from a no-holds-barred approach to the veracity of the subject paper, I do hope the online version remains diplomatic and civil. Some might consider that a cop-out, but the last thing we need is scientists flaming each other over the internet. That’s what conferences are for.

    BTW, good job on the redecorating. The previous green theme was a little bit depressing.

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    Drugmonkey said:

    “I do hope the online version remains diplomatic and civil.”

    Might as well get into the question of what journal club is for then, eh? What are the purposes?

    1. Bring the audience up to speed on something they haven’t seen or read in any depth. Here, not sure why any who bother to go to online JC wouldn’t just have already overcome the inertia problem.

    2. Really tear into something, see what is soundly supported, what is weak. DSK Samways rightfully questions this part of JC in an online / world available forum.

    3. Rah, rah, cheerleading excitement of quality new science. Ok, this part will work as well online as anywhere.

    What primary JC functions do you see your effort handling, Noah?

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    Noah Gray said:

    I hope for the JC to meet all three.

    1. The interests in the group are likely to be broad, so many will not be as familiar with the details underlying the subject matter being presented. Hence, this would hopefully be a good learning experience outside of one’s typical subject area.

    2. Being critical is fine, as long as it is constructive. I don’t see the problem with that.

    3. Being positive is also fine. Again, since the topic may not be familiar to the readership, learning what is truly an advance in a particular field would be useful.

    In addition, I listed a number of other possibilities for discussion above. My thought is that this type of forum could provide what the Faculty of 1000 sorely lacks: interaction between the experts and the reader. I would like to see a relaxed atmosphere where anyone can speak up, learn something new, and stimulate scientific thought. This online JC could (in theory) be much more diverse than any assembled in the real world, providing a wealth of different perspectives to be shared in a single space.

    It is obviously an experiment, and experiments may fail…but I’m willing to stick by it and give it some time to sink in.

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    Dave Featherstone said:

    I LOVE the idea of open scientific discussion, and in the interests of promoting such, took the brave (foolish?) step of responding to Noah’s journal club post on a recent paper from my lab. I hope other PIs are willing to respond to Journal Club entries discussing their papers. I encourage Noah to offer an invitation to authors of discussed papers, in hopes of getting some good ‘give & take’. Since posts can pseudonymous (e.g. you fake your name), this is your chance to tell authors what you really think!

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    Action Potential said:

    Neuroscience and Web 2.0: Participation may vary

    In the last couple of years, after the recent explosion in the number of resources where scientific discussions can take place rapidly and without boundaries (i.e., using the internet), one could easily have predicted that we were on the cusp…