BIOC 785 Syllabus

Fall 2015 Journal Club – BIOC 785

Location: William Fleming Conference Room (3155 HSN)
Time: Class meets at 2 PM


The student Journal Club is designed to introduce graduate students to new topics in the literature, help the student remain current in other topics, and to teach the student to critically read the literature over a broad range of topics. Graduate students in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program take this course every semester that they area in residence.


The Journal Club involves reading papers from the scientific literature. Journal Club meets once per week for 1 h. This time is mutually agreed upon between the students and the faculty member. Each semester, 3 faculty members from within the graduate program are involved with the journal club. Each faculty member oversees 4-5 sessions. The paper to be covered each session will be chosen and provided to you by a student the week before the session. Some faculty members may want to approve the paper first.


Journal club is graded A, B, C, etc. These grades are assigned based on faculty evaluation of the student’s performance using the criteria listed below. It is important to remember that students are not necessarily compared to each other in making this evaluation. For instance, a second year student is not expected to have the insight of a more senior student. In contrast, however, a senior student is expected to be able to answer more difficult questions that a less experienced student. All students are expected to participate by volunteering to answer questions, by leading a portion of the discussion, or other activities as directed by the faculty member. Adequate preparation is the key to participation.

Grading scale

  1. 90-100
  2. 80-89
  3. 70-79
  4. 60-69
  5. less than 59

Criteria for evaluation

Each of these sections is worth 20% of the final grade. The faculty will evaluate the student in each section on a 5 point scale. A 5 is excellent and means the student has fulfilled the expectation of the criterion. A 1 is unsatisfactory and means that the student has not exhibited any traits within that criterion. The sum of the 5 scored is expressed relative to 100% to calculate the final grade.

  1. The student is prepared to discuss the paper as evidenced by notes, additional papers, copious writing on the manuscript itself.
  2. The student can explain the purpose of the experiments in each figure or table, outline how the experiments were conducted, identify the presence of appropriate controls, list the results, and discuss the conclusions from the figure.
  3. The student can describe how this paper has added to the knowledge in a field.
  4. The student can suggest at least one experiment that would be considered to be the next experiment to do to continue the work.
  5. The student can critically evaluate the paper as to: the quality of the data, the relevance of the science, the success with which the data support the conclusions drawn by the authors. The student can justify their criticisms.

Attendance Policy

If you must miss a Journal Club for any reason, you must be excused by the faculty member leading the discussion. This can be done by you personally emailing or calling the faculty member prior to the journal club. Do not assume that informing another faculty member of your absence will result in this being communicated to the faculty member in charge of journal club. Each unexcused absences will result in a drop of one letter grade per absence. An unexcused absence is one in which you simply do not attend and fail to inform the instructor prior to the absence. Excused absences will result in your needing to make-up the missed work. This may involve presenting a summary of the next paper to the group. More than one excused absence may affect your grade as well.

Social Justice Statement

"West Virginia University is committed to social justice. I concur with that commitment and expect to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. Our University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran’s status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration. If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order to participate in this class, please advise me and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Disability Services (304-293-6700)."