The Journal Club Toolkit

by the Understanding Evolution team

Many undergraduate biology instructors want to help their students learn about authentic scientific practices by engaging them with the primary literature. However, scientific articles present serious challenges for typical undergraduate students. These challenges include: understanding the biological concepts that the research addresses, 2) translating unfamiliar vocabulary, 3) navigating the unusual format of a scientific paper, 4) making sense of statistics, references, and other unique aspects of scientific writing, and 5) synthesizing the paper in an independent analysis or critique. The Journal Club Toolkit is designed to help students overcome these challenges, while delving into fundamental concepts of evolutionary biology.

What's in the Toolkit?

The Journal Club Toolkit includes three reading guides for scientific papers, a set of research articles on key concepts in evolutionary biology that provide a gentle entrée into the primary literature, and a guide for students leading a discussion of a journal article:

How to use the Toolkit

The Journal Club Toolkit was designed to be implemented in the discussion section of an evolution course or of an evolution-oriented introductory biology course; however, instructors are encouraged to adapt the above materials to suit their needs and the constraints of their class format. In a typical weekly discussion section, the materials from the Toolkit might be implemented as follows:

If you've adapted these materials to suit your needs, we'd love to hear about it. Just contact us.