Students participating in parasitology seminar will give an oral presentation on a recently published scientific paper and lead a discussion on that paper. Other students are also welcome to attend. These seminars provide an opportunity to discuss current topics relating to all aspects of tropical medicine and infectious diseases. Free discussion of the subjects constitutes an important element of the seminar and participation of the entire group leads to more interesting, stimulating, and informative sessions.
Each student will make one oral presentation on an article selected from the current scientific literature. Grades for each semester will be based on the oral report and abstract as well as an evaluation of the student's participation (i.e., attendance and discussion) throughout the semester.
All students are required to attend every seminar and expected to actively participate in some of the discussions. In order to more actively participate in the discussions students should read the papers being presented before coming to seminar. An excess of unexcused absences will affect the final grade for the semester. Each student will be allow one unexcused absence. One point will be deducted from the course grade and two points deducted for each unexcused absence after that. Excused absences include illness and travel of school related matters such as attending conferences or interviews. Students anticipating more than two excused absences related to travel should plan to take the seminar course in another semester.
Presentation of a journal article report encourages reading of the current literature and provides practice and experience in critical appraisal, note-taking and abstracting, and speaking before an audience. All participants will benefit in proportion to the time and effort which is put into preparation of the presentation.
The selection of a paper is primarily the responsibility of the student, either independently or with the guidance and suggestions of a faculty member. The selection should have the final approval of the seminar coordinator. Papers may be found by looking through recent issues of journals in the library or by doing literature searches on topics of potential interest. PubMed of the National Library of Medicine is one possible place to carry out searches of the scientific literature. Other literature search services are available through the Matas Medical Library as well as an on-line catalog to look up the availability of journals at Tulane University.
The paper should be current--preferably appearing during the last year and not more than two years old--on any aspect of infectious disease. Papers older than two years will need special approval and justification. Appropriate topics include experimental investigations, field studies, or descriptive observations of infectious agents, host-parasite interactions, and vectors. The paper should elucidate biological principles in relation to topics such as cell and molecular biology, pathology, immunology, biochemistry, epidemiology, pharmacology, ecology, etc. Above all, the article should be interesting and conducive to discussion. Review papers, brief reports, case reports, taxonomic descriptions, and papers primarily describing techniques are not appropriate. Appropriate papers should generally contain 4-6 data items such as tables and figures. Before proceeding with your preparation, check the schedule, as well as the papers presented in the previous semester, to make sure that your paper has not already been selected by another student during the current year. Copies of the article that are needed in preparing the presentation can be made in the Departmental Office at no cost. Provide the seminar coordinator with a copy or an URL link to the paper as soon as possible.
An written abstract of the paper also needs to be prepared. This is an important part of the student's responsibility, and the quality of the abstract is considered in determining the grade. An abstract is a self-contained digest of the article and presentation. It should describe the important new observations, state how they were made, and summarize the conclusions drawn. Preparing the abstract will also help in preparing the oral presentation by highlighting the important points of the paper. Do not copy the author's abstract.
The entire abstract (headings, body and references) should fit on a single page and a specific format is recommended (see sample abstract). The abstract should include:
An index heading is a short phrase placed at the top which indicates the general subject of the paper. The full citation of the article then follows. Standard abbreviations for names of journals can be used.
The body of the abstract should be a concise statement of the principal contents of the paper and presentation. The abstract should not be overly technical and easily understood by persons who are not experts in the topic of the paper. One or a few sentences should be included covering each of the following concepts:
Include 2-3 additional references which are particularly relevant to the presentation. These could include: an important review paper related to the topic, papers which support or refute the presented paper, or an earlier paper which contained important preliminary data. Do not include a long list of references from the paper.
A draft of the abstract may be submitted to the seminar coordinator or other departmental faculty member for editorial suggestions (preferably one week before the seminar is to be given). A copy of the final abstract (preferably as a Word doucument) should be provided to the seminar coordinator no later than the morning of the presentation.. If you are unable to complete the abstract at least one hour before the presentation, you will be responsible for making the copies and bringing them to the presentation for distribution to the faculty and students.
This is an oral report and evaluation of the contents of the selected article and the presentation should focus on the article. Do not read directly from a prepared manuscript. Not only is this very tedious for the audience, but it gives the appearance that you do not know your subject well. With the help of your notes, describe the background information, experimental procedures, results and conclusions of the authors, and your assessment of these observations, data, and ideas. Be familiar with the details of the subject, and be prepared to answer questions which may arise regarding methods, data, significance, and extrapolation of the findings. It is also important to give a critique of the study.
In preparing your presentation you should keep in mind that the principle audience is your fellow students (not the faculty). The actual presentation should take no more than 40-45 minutes; 30-35 minutes if 3 presentations are to be made; and 20-25 minutes if four presentations are to be made. Presentations of less than 20 minutes will receive a lower grade. It is not necessary to present all of the data of particularly long papers. Choose the data which are most supportive of the main points of the paper. The remaining 10 or 15 minutes will be devoted to class discussion.
The format of the presentation could follow that of the scientific paper (i.e., Introduction, Experimental Design, Results, Discussion). However, other formats are also appropriate, depending on the paper. For example, for some experimental papers it may be more effective to present an experimental procedure followed immediately by that particular result, and then describe the methods and results of the next experiment, etc. Similarly, in some instances is might be advantageous to describe the experiment or observation followed immediately by some discussion of that result in regards to its significance or other published studies. Regardless of the exact format, the various sections should consider the following:
The presentation of a scientific paper will necessitate the use of visual aids. Students should prepare their presentation in Powerpoint and save it on a medium (flash drive, CD, email a copy to yourself, etc.) compatible with the computer and LCD projector in the classroom. It is recommended to frequently backup your file during its preparation and to save the final version in multiple formats. For example, email the final file to yourself and save it on a flashdrive.
Some suggestions on preparing slides:
The presentations will be evaluated by the attending faculty. Evaluation criteria include: quality of abstract, effectiveness in presenting the various aspects of the paper, and the use of visual aids (clarity, not technological). (See annotated sample evaluation form for details of criteria.) The course grade will be determined by the average of the faculty submitting evaluations and class participation and attendance. A summary of the written comments of the faculty will be returned to the student.
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