It is a challenge for anyone to summarize and present a journal paper so that your class colleagues gain from the experience.  Keys to success are in appropriate selection of the research article, the approach and manner of presentation, and your overall state of preparation.

1.      Article Selection

 The research should be recent (2000 - present), and fit within the topics appropriate for this class---Physiological Ecology (see class outline)

         Select a research article with data that evolves from a clear hypothesis. 

         Do not select a review article.  Avoid Scientific American, American Scientist, Bioscience and other condensed-topic journals.

         The article should contain some quantitative findings.  Descriptive studies may be more difficult to interpret and present than comparative or experimental studies.

Chose a research article you can [eventually] understand.

         This should not be interpreted as "simple" or "easy."   It means that eventually you must understand the work well enough to explain things to others.

         At presentation time, your knowledge base must go beyond the journal article, thus allowing you to answer questions that interrelate the specific research findings  into the broader discipline.

         Put things in the simplest terms and avoid acronyms or explain them when used.

         Don't reject an article because of special terminology; just be sure you learn any terms with which you are unfamiliar.  Your instructors are willing to help.

         If at some point you realize you are "lost," seek help or consider another article.   Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."  However, an over reliance on this costs you credibility.

 Select a well written piece of research.  (Not every article fits this criterion.)

         Is the abstract clear?  Does it provide a brief statement of problem, outline of methods, and highlights of results?

         Are the tables and graphic presentations focused and clear?

         Does the author utilize the discussion section to expand on how the results relate to other work and the significance of the work?

 You do NOT have to present everything that is in a paper, as long as the data/ideas that you leave out are not critical to understand what you do present.


2.      Presentation Style

 Presentations must be made using the aid of Microsoft PowerPoint.

 Models and other demonstration approaches are often helpful.

 Talk with enough volume to be heard.  Face the audience, rather than the board or screen.

 Whatever you present must be large enough to be read by anyone in the classroom.

         Generally, a Power Pt. slide made directly from a journal article table or graph is too small, and often it is too "busy." 

         Consider developing your own graph or table in order to eliminate excess data that you have no intention of explaining.

         You need to explain the significance of any data you are presenting.


3.      Approaches to Presenting Findings

 Early in your presentation, tell the specific problem that was the focus of the research and/or the hypothesis that was tested.  What question(s) was addressed?

 Give the basics of the experimental design and methods of data collection.

         What comparisons were made (controls)?  What parameters were actually measured?

         Do not go into excess detail on methods or you leave no time for results.

         Explain unique or unusual conditions, instruments, or timing of data collection.

 As you focus on the results presented in the paper, keep in mind that everything is not of equal importance.  Focus on the key outcomes!  Not all the data or parts of the paper have to be presented.

 For the Results section, presenting tables or graphs can be helpful.

         Seldom can you take a whole table or graph directly from the paper and present it in a meaningful way.  As previously stated, usually there is too much data in a table and the size is too small for projection.  It may be better to make your own table just showing the data you want to discuss that pertains to the point you want to make.  In either case, you must specifically draw attention to a few major point, trends, etc.

         Any graph or table presented to the class should have a title.  Start by explaining the graph axes or table rows and columns. 

         Graph lines must be identified.

 Summarize key points.  Make a list if it will be helpful.

 Draw any final conclusion that is warranted from the research article.

         Do the findings have significance or implication to other organisms?

         Can any generalizations, predictions, or extrapolations be made from the research?

         What deficiencies do you see in the experimental design? 

 Be prepared to answer questions both about the specifics of the research article and how the findings are relevant to understanding ecological/physiological interrelationships.


4. Preparation

 There is no substitute for being prepared.  Spend the time necessary to know what you are talking about and to present that information in a way that focuses on the salient points.   Practice the presentation in its entirety, including use of visual aids, preferably aloud.  This practice will build confidence and provide for checking the presentation time.  Most people try to cover too much material for the time limit.