Ay 141: Research Conference in Astronomy
a.k.a. ``Journal Club"
(Spring Term 2017)
Lynne Hillenbrand (lah@astro)
Gregg Hallinan (lah@astro)
Meetings: 16:00-17:00 Fridays, in 370 Cahill
Every astronomy graduate student beyond the first year is expected
to give two journal club presentations over the academic year.
Undergraduates signed up for the course are expected to do the same, or
if signed up for less than all three terms, one presentation per term
enrolled. On occasion there may be talks by postdocs, staff, or faculty.
Attendance and participation by all parties interested in
astrophysics is strongly encouraged.
Talks (ideally more like discussions)
are generally 1/2 hour, and each session is followed by refreshments
out-of-doors, retreating to indoors during the middle of winter term.
The first journal club talk of the year should be based on a paper chosen from
the recent literature (including preprints).
The paper must be a refereed journal or review article
(no short conference proceedings).
The goal of this presentation is to have the student speak on a topic outside
of his/her main research area.
The second of the two talks can be on another paper or it may be
a report on the presenter's own research.
Senior graduate students close to completion of the PhD are strongly
encouraged to give a talk summarizing the thesis work.
Please discuss your intended paper with either your advisor or
one of the course organizers
-- after you have read it, but before you start preparing your presentation
materials. There may be advice or other considerations that arise during such
In order to sufficiently publicize each week's journal
club, we ask that each presenter email the talk title *and* an html-formatted link
to the work being presented to gh@astro.
A good speaker will:
give sufficient (but not too much) background material
motivate the new work and indicate why the paper was deemed interesting
describe techniques/methods and results
evaluate rigorousness of conclusions
put the present paper into the context of other work.
Here are the criteria for
evaluation of speaking presentations by the Caltech undergrad SURF students.
The list contains many items you might want to consider as you
prepare your talk.
Here is some other professional advice:
The Craft of Scientific Presentation, by Alley, 1996 (3rd edition)
Advice To Beginning Physics Speakers by J. Garland, Physics Today, July 1999, p. 42
Technical presentations: basic rules for success by R. Gaughan, from OE Reports, July, Aug., Nov. 1995 and Jan. 1996 issues
Presentation Skills by J. Knezovich
The Truth is, You Gave a Lousy Talk by T DeFoe
In order to pass the "communications" class each term you must do the
attend talks by your fellow students
ask questions and/or make appropriate comments
present two quality talks according to the rules outlined above
consider producing a public-level representation
of the topic of your talk for posting to our astronomy outreach website
The journal club organizers will provide constructive feedback
after your talk, including suggestions for improving future talks.
Schedule of Presenters
Spring Term 2017
(Record of Previous Years)
Winter Term 2015
Winter Term 2011
Fall Term 2010
Last Revised: 27 March 2017 by LAH