General Description

  • At each meeting there will be just one presenter who will give a chalk board talk for about 40-60 minutes including questions and feedback.

  • Powerpoint is NOT allowed. The presenter may choose to give a handout (up to 1 page double sided) to illustrate figures etc.

  • It is up to the presenter to decide what to talk about. However, presenters should not speak about their own research but can talk about something tangentially related.

  • Swapping only within the current cycle is allowed. Anyone wishing to swap their position with someone else should contact that person directly and then let Xirui ( know about the schedule change.

Suggestions from the CMX faculty:


  1. First and foremost, be aware that you have been cramming for a week or two to understand the paper(s) that you are reviewing. You cannot possibly convey all that you have learned during this time in a one hour talk. Your job is to refine the complexity into simple pictures and have people in the audience walk away feeling that they learned something that they may remember years from now. They won’t remember the complex details or the math derivations, but they may remember a simple picture that you present. It is hard to think of a time when anyone criticized a journal club talk for being too simple. Almost all of the time when people don’t like a talk, they don’t like it because they couldn’t follow it.


  1. USING THE MINIMUM REQUIRED MATH means a BETTER TALK. Don’t write down more than 10 equations on the chalkboard during the whole talk, and don’t write down complicated equations with many variables and terms. Rather than displaying long mathematical derivations, write down the results of the calculation and then describe what the equation means. Thoroughly explain each of the terms in every equation that you write on the chalkboard. What do the variables mean, and why are they important? What kind of behavior (in a simple picture) does the equation predict? Try to accompany each equation with a picture that you draw to explain what the equation means.


  1. The talk should not cover more than 2 papers. Also, do not jam your hand-out full of figures and include captions with any figures that require a lot of interpretation.


  1. Try to refer to actual data on the handout within 10 minutes of starting the talk. People will start to lose attention in a long theoretical preamble. Remember, the focus of our journal club is on EXPERIMENTS.


  1. Do not go over time. People generally do not get upset about talks being too short.


  1. Practice your talk at a chalkboard! If you can’t practice the whole thing, at least practice the part of your talk involving equations to make sure it is clear.