GUIDELINES FOR PREPARATION OF SEMINARS

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Seminars should be in the form of PowerPoint presentations, which must be submitted as email attachments by 11:00 on the day of your seminar. The seminars will all be loaded onto the same USB flash drive to avoid delays and shown using a desktop PC. The only exception might be if you have prepared your seminar on a Mac. Mac presentations usually work on a PC (and will be checked when you submit them). However, if you include videos you might want to use a Mac. In this case the schedule may be changed slightly to include all Mac presentations at the beginning of the seminar period. In this case a single Mac from one of you will need to be used for all of the Mac presentations. Please let me know 2 days in advance if you wish to use a Mac.

 

EVALUATION - Although the seminar and the term paper are on the same topic, it is recommended that you first focus on the seminar and then adapt it to the term paper. The seminars will be evaluated by several faculty members and you should be prepared to answer questions from faculty and other students for about 5 min. Make sure that you have a good understanding of your topic so that you will be able to answer the questions. Following the seminars you will receive feedback by E-Mail that you should take into consideration when you prepare your term paper. The mark you receive for your seminar will be the average of the marks you get from the faculty and from the students. You will receive 5% of the course mark for attending all three seminar periods and completing the evaluation sheets for each of these.

 

TIMING IS CRITICAL - The time allotted for each seminar will be 15 min + 5 min for discussion (20 min total). Note that the time may vary a little from year to year, depending on the number of students in the class. Because of the number of seminars to be presented on each day it is very important that you time your seminar very carefully. You will be warned when your time is up. If you have not finished by that time you will have a maximum of 1 min to conclude. You will need to go directly to your concluding slide, skipping any intervening slides that you did not have time to discuss. You should practice your seminar beforehand so that your timing is correct. If you are not able to present all of your material you will likely lose marks because an important part of your seminar (e.g. the examples) may be missing. On the other hand, if your seminar is too short you may not have provided enough detail and it may appear to be a bit superficial.


SLIDES - The slides should be designed primarily for the benefit of the audience to help them to understand the seminar. If they are too complicated, it will not be possible for the audience to read the material on the screen and listen to the speaker at the same time. Use illustrations and models or cartoons as much as possible as well as figures from journal articles or websites. Slides should not contain an excessive amount of text, and text should be concise and in point form and not in complete sentences. The font selected should not be too small so that it can be read by the audience at the back of the room. Make sure to cite the source of figures or illustrations you use on the bottom of the slide.

 

PRESENTATION STYLE- You need to be familiar with your topic so that you do not have to read your seminar from the slides. It is important to look at the audience as much as possible and to use the pointer effectively. Speak clearly and loudly enough so that you can be heard at the back of the room. It is important to be enthusiastic about your topic, as this will make the audience more interested in what you are saying.

 

CONTENT - It is important that your seminar is as up to date as possible. You should consult some of the recent literature for information about your topic (e.g. PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar), especially for examples that you include in your seminar. You can also consult commercial sites, but make sure not to rely exclusively on these. You may also find background information on Wikipedia and more detailed information in Current Protocols, Springer Protocols, and Nature Methods.

 

The organization of you seminar might vary, depending on your topic, but you should include the following:

Introduction - Give some background about your topic and tell the audience why the method(s) you are discussing are important and what sort of problems they can be used to address.

The methodology - Describe the method(s) in general terms and discuss the important points. You do not need to go into minute details and your seminar should not be presented like the methodology section of a journal article. In some cases there may be many methods used for the same purpose. As you have limited time you should focus on the most important and up to date of these.

Strengths and weaknesses - If you discuss several related methods it is important to compare them to each other and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. You may not have time in your seminar to cover all of the important methods related to your topic, but you could still mention them briefly at the end. How would you decide which method to use in a given situation? If there are other important methods that you have not covered that are used to achieve a similar objective, briefly compare these to the one(s) that you are talking about. For example, if you are talking about X-ray crystallography to determine protein structure you should briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages compared to the use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which can be used for the same purpose.

Examples from the scientific literature - Include two or three examples from the recent scientific literature (including figures) to illustrate the use of the method(s) you have discussed to address specific research questions. These should be from original journal articles and not from commercial websites. Make sure that you explain the examples well and understand the figures that you show, as you may be questioned on them later. The examples you choose should not be from the laboratory in which you work. You should remember that the primary focus should be on the method itself rather than on the research area for which the method is used. However, you need to explain clearly what research question the method was used to address. If you are discussing therapeutic approaches you should include up-to-date information on relevant clinical trials. You should discuss any potential serious side effects or adverse events as well as any major problems that need to be overcome.

Conclusion - You should end with a summary/conclusion slide.

 

Your seminar should not be presented like a Journal Club and should not be restricted to only one or two journal articles. It should not be presented like the Methods section of a scientific paper and should not give too many small details (e.g. buffers, molarities, etc) unless these are critical.