Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Journal Club Presentation Tips

Coming into this class I had no idea how to read a research paper. Whenever I read one, every other word went over my had. This will have to change if you hope to survive the class. One of the projects is to read a paper and present it. First of all, choose a paper you actually find interesting. If you don't like your paper, you will have a really hard time reading it and understanding it.

An important tip is to go through each paper and read the abstract. This is a technique you need to master, By the time you leave 20.109, reading and writing abstracts will be second nature to you. Read each papers abstract and use that to narrow down your search. You should also read a bit of the introduction to solidify your choice. Then read your paper once through marking confusing portions just to get an overall sense of what their goal was and what they did. Then read the presentation rubric and find out what your presentation needs. Then read the paper again marking important sections.

For some people getting started on the actual presentation is harder than for others. There are two techniques I would suggest. The first is to just look at your marked paper and just pick a random section and start making slides. Just jump into it and write everything and then go back and shorten it later. The second method is to make an outline on paper by hand and then use the outline to start your slides. Focus on one slide at a time or you will quickly be overwhelmed. Think ahead of time of possible transitions.

GO TO OFFICE HOURS! You will get useful tips and comments for your presentation.

Once you finish your slides go through them and make sure everything makes sense. Make sure there are no spelling errors and that there are smooth transitions between slides.

Try not to make a script for yourself. Learn what you have to do well enough to look at the key bullet points on the slide and know what you want to say. If you try to memorize a script and forget one sentence you are more likely to get stuck.

If there is something you didn't understand in the paper and had to look up, assume the crowd will ask the same question, so be prepared to answer it, Don't worry if you can't specifically answer the questions correctly. If you can't give your best guess and let the person know it is your hypothesis. Also reforming the figures in the paper is a good way to emphasize key points and it will help you better understand what the data says.

Hopefully you have done presentations before and know what tendencies you have. I tend to speak faster during presentations than during practices. If this is the case for you then plan your presentation to be a bit longer so when you speak faster, you will still be in the time window. Practice your presentation multiple times out loud, not just in your head.

Finally, relax, dress nicely, and good luck!

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