Journal Clubs are a popular feature on PLoS ONE papers. There were several of them in the spring. Now, after a brief summer break, the Journal Clubs are going live again and they will happen on a regular basis, perhaps as frequently as one per week.
What does it mean - a Journal Club? In short, a lab group volunteers to discuss one of the more recent (or even upcoming, not yet published) PLoS ONE papers and to post their discussion as a series of comments, annotations and ratings on the paper itself, triggering a discussion within a broader scientific community.
The first group that will start our Fall series is the Bacterial Metagenomics group led by Dr.Jonathan Eisen at UC-Davis. They chose to discuss last week's ONE article Metagenomics of the Deep Mediterranean, a Warm Bathypelagic Habitat. It is a good and interesting paper and they have posted their discussion on it already.
If the name Jonathan Eisen rings a bell, it is probably because you are reading his blog. Perhaps you will recognize that one of his students participating in the Journal Club is also familiar to you through her blog as well.
So, what would l really like you to do is to go and read the paper and what the Eisen group wrote about it, then join in the conversation - add your own commentary, including annotations and ratings to the article. If you decide to blog about it at your own site, try to trigger a trackback.
And if you and your group would like to do a Journal Club in the future, let us know - e-mail me at: Bora@plos.org
So cool. And perhaps, Bora, you could work up a little guidance for the less than expert reader who looks to this sort of as a learning more than a critiquing opportunity.
I say cool because I know I have a gap in my understanding of evolution around the emergence of novel traits: its clear how they are promoted if they are beneficial but that still puts their actual first occurrence in the "then a miracle happens" category. So I am glad to discover that very class of questions addressed.
I am not a biologist, I just pay for one at a university.
While I expect to gain something from the paper and maybe more from a knowledgeable discussion. Is there:
1. any guidelines to journal club commenter that would make their comments more accessible to non-experts, e.g. "drop a wikipedia link on any advanced or controversial topic you are tossing around"
2. are there grades of difficulty in the papers discussed that could be uncontroversially assigned to papers as guidance to lay readers? That is a tough one and probably the least-effort way to actually achieve ratings like that would be for readers themselves to rate papers and the Journal Club comments on some sort of "helpful to the nonspecialist" scale. [a' la the /. or similar comment rating scheme]
I like greensmile's idea of adding links to external information that might make something that is technical in the paper make more sense. Bora - do you know if this is an "encouraged" activity?
We are considering something like that for the future, but in the meantime, commenters are encouraged to add links to such information in their annotations.