Course co-directors: Dr. Patrick Forcelli and Dr. Tina Brelidze
This course, for 2nd year PhD students, is designed to help students critically read and evaluate primary literature. Use this course and the techniques involved in evaluating other people’s papers to think about how YOU will write a paper. What does it take to write a clear paper? What does it take to generate clear figures? What does it take to generate experiments that incorporate all the appropriate controls?
Faculty direct readings and discusion of papers in an area of study that is focused. Each student is responsible for all aspects of each paper for every session.
Assignments of specific papers to specific students will not be done. No one will 'present' the paper(s). Everyone will be expected to participate on each paper. The papers are chosen by the course instructors. When you read the papers, be sure you understand: (write all these down on the paper)
a. The overall hypotheses and goals of the paper(s).
b. What was known before the study began that lead to the hypotheses.
c. The details of each figure (see below).
d. The specific conclusions of the paper.
You should annotate each figure in your copy of the paper to remind yourself in class regarding:
a. The purpose of the experiment for each figure
Why did they do this expt? What was the question or hypothesis?
b. The methods used in each figure
What did they do in this expt? If you don't know the method, look it up. Are the methods clear and complete enough that you could repeat the expt? If not, what is missing? Was the experiment well-designed? How could it be designed better? Are the figures clear and well-designed? Are the statistics clearly described and are they appropriate?
c. The conclusions reached from the results of each figure
What did they learn from this expt? Are the controls adequate? Are the conclusions justified? Are there alternate explanations for the results?
d. What other experiments should be done to make this a better study?
If you have problems understanding something, please come talk to the instructor in advance