Improving Journal Club: Increasing Student Discussion and Understanding of Primary Literature in Molecular Biology Through the Use of Dialectical Notes

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Reading the primary literature in a journal club format is an excellent practice where undergraduate students can develop their abilities in experimental data analysis and critical thinking, learn about new ideas and methods, and gain a foothold in scientific discourse. However, students are not familiar with the format, writing style, and depth of knowledge assumed when first reading journal articles. This can inhibit class discussion. To alleviate this problem, the author has instituted the use of dialectical notes in journal club, so that students fully engage the article. This novel use of a strategy borrowed from humanities has improved class participation. (C) 2012 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology