Reading and understanding scientific literature and presentations


One of the most important skills a young researcher needs to learn is how to effectively absorb scientific information, to understand it and grasp the main message of the article/talk.  This course is designed to help you master these skills. The course is made on the basis of the GIGA conference series. GIGA conference series is a collection of invited talks from internationally renowned speakers that are held once per month at the GIGA.


Aim of the course:

-               To teach participants how to read scientific literature, actively listen to scientific talks and ask questions, take part in scientific discussions, write a “News and Views” type of summary of the talk and provide a feedback to their peers.


By the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

-               critically read and understand scientific articles not limited to the area of their research

-               extract the key points and ideas from scientific articles

-               formulate questions about research projects and ask them in public

-               actively listen to scientific presentations

-               discuss a research project with the presenter

-               write a summary of the research project of the speaker

-               critically read and give comments on the written text of their peers


Target group:  PhD candidates in the first half (year 1 or 2) of their PhD trajectory.


Duration of the course: 27th October 2017 – June 2018, 9 sessions


Workload:  ±45h for the whole course duration, including:

-  Contact class hours – 4h on 27th of October (Part 1) + 2 hours per month = 22 h

-  Self-study – 1 hour after Part 1; 2 hours per month article reading (18 total), ± 4 hours writing “News and views” item (once or twice per course).



Pierre Close, PhD.  GIGA-Molecular Biology of Diseases,  Laboratory of Cancer Signaling

Nathalie Jacobs, PhD. GIGA-I3, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology 

Curtis F. Barret, PhD,  English Editing Solutions



The course organization/schedule:

Part 1. The course will start with a one-day workshop (27th of October) on scientific English writing. This workshop will be given by a professional scientific English editor.

Part 2.  Reading of scientific articles. Before each GIGA monthly conference, participants will be asked to read an article on the research area of the invited speaker. The article will be discussed in the group and the discussion will be led by a GIGA researcher. Each student would need to prepare a discussion point to be elaborated in the group or to address to the invited speaker.

Part 3.  Participants will attend the talk of the invited speaker. After the talk, a small group of the course participants (2-3 persons in turns) will co-write a “News and views” article about the work and presentation of the invited speaker. The text will be sent to the scientific editor (teacher of the Part 1 workshop) for corrections. He will give a friendly and professional feedback on the written document. After editing, the final version of the “News and views” item will be published on the GIGA website/Facebook. The cycle will be repeated once per month with a rotation of the students who will write a summary of the GIGA conference talks.