Journal Club - Fall Semester 2012

The Journal Club takes place from 10:30-11:30 every Tuesday during term (in the seminar room of the Zoological Institute, Vesalgasse 1, first floor). This semester the instructor is Dieter Ebert. For questions regarding the seminar please contact the instructor.

The introduction (Vorbesprechung) to this course takes place on Tuesday, 18.9.2012, at 11h15, during which we will distribute the paper presentation slots.


Date Paper/Topic Presenter
25.9. no journal club -
2.10. Danley et al. 2012. Acoustic diversity in Lake Malawi rock-dwelling cichlids. Environ Biol Fish 93:23-30. Rachel Spinks
9.10 Foote & Nystuen. 2008. "Variation in call pitch among killer whale ecotypes" J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 123 Tatiana Marchon


Benjamin Kueng

23.10. NN

Thomas Naef

30.10. NN

Simon Egger

How it works:

The main goal of journal club is that participants get to practice the critical reading and discussion of published primary research. Why is a study interesting? Is it experimentally well performed and analyzed correctly? Are the conclusions justified or do the authors over-interpret their findings? Questions such as these are often not easy to answer. But they make up a central component of scientific debate, work and progress. Another central skill, also requiring practice, is the defense of research and the effective countering of the criticism raised by others. Together, criticism and defense make up scientific debate - e.g., in discussions with colleagues, when you give a presentation at a conference, or in your PhD-defense.

For each journal club session, one participant makes a suggestion for a paper to the moderators, who then decides if it is suitable for the course. General criteria for paper selection are: 1) that the paper is focussed on the broader field of evolution, 2) that it is a primary research paper (not a review), 3) that it was published recently, 4) and that it was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Also, shorter papers with a simple message are preferable.

The participant has to send the paper suggestion as a PDF to Dieter Ebert ( at least 10 days before the course date. After approval, the pdf document will be provided on this website and can be downloaded by clicking on the title. All discussions will be in English.

During the seminar a randomly chosen participant then gives a short overview of the content of the paper (about 10 minutes) with special attention to: background for understanding the question at hand, experimental approaches and details, results and conclusions. Therefore, all participants are expected to have read the paper. In the subsequent discussion, the other course participants discuss and critically evaluate the paper. More details about the format will be provided in the introduction session.

In order to receive the 2 KPs for this course the participants have to attend the journal club, present a paper during the Seminar and write a short (about 2-3 pages) summary of the article, focussing on the following aspects:

(1) Background - What do we know?
(2) Question - What was the question tackled by researchers in this paper?
(3) Material and Methods - What was the main experimental approach?
(4) Results and Discussion - What are the main results and conclusions presented in the paper?
(5) Group Discussion Summary - What were the main criticisms and praises? Did we come to an agreement about the conclusions? What did we learn? What should have been done differently in the study? What would be interesting subsequent experiments? The group discussion summary should make about half of the report.

This course can be taken (and credit points collected) more than once. If you cannot register for the course (because you received already KPs under the same course number), please speak to the course instructor.

Previous Journal Clubs: