Presentation and Discussion of a Journal Article

Presenters and discussants for each paper are designated by the topic selection team. Everyone who is registered for credit is expected to present one paper and discuss a second one. This may require coordination between selection teams.

Presenters and discussants should start planning at least a week ahead. Depending on your background, personal collateral reading or discussion with someone more familiar with the topic may be useful. We discourage the use of slide presentations (such as PowerPoint) since it inhibits discussion, and we want you to learn to lead a discussion extemporaneously. If a particular figure from the paper — or from a related paper — is needed for discussion, consider copying and distributing it.

At the session, the presenters should introduce the paper by defining the issue under investigation, saying who the authors were, and then summarize the main points made in the paper, and why it is interesting/important. You can step through background, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, but do assume everyone has read the paper — don't spoon-feed back lots of detailed information everyone should already be familiar with. Try to highlight interesting, controversial, or less obvious but important points. "If they found the effect was not statistically significant, does that necessarily prove it isn't so?" "Are there better ways they could have made that measurement?" "Does the abstract overstate the generality of their result?" "Why do you suppose they show only the average data, and there are no error bars?", etc. The presenter and discussant should think of themselves as surrogates for the authors, and are expected to be able to explain all the main arguments and figures. It isn't OK for a presenter to say: "one thing I didn't understand about this paper was ...." unless it is also clear that the presenter made a serious effort to research and resolve the obscurity beforehand. Demonstrations of physiological or cognitive effects or of relevant instrumentation are sometimes appropriate – and fun.