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Operating Notes for the Journal Club


Guided by the discussions initiated by Pradeep Sharma, we now evolve these operating notes for the Journal Club. These notes are a work in progress, and will evolve as the iMechanica community and the Web technology evolve. Every moderator and architect can edit these notes. Every user can see the editing history of these notes. As always, every registered user is welcome to make suggestions by leaving comments.

Mission. The mission of the Journal Club is to facilitate discussion at the frontier of mechanics and its applications.

Papers. To be eligible as an entry in the Journal Club, a paper should

  1. be obtainable by many mechanicians,
  2. have a trustworthy timestamp, and
  3. be of interest to mechanicians.

The first two requirements are fulfilled, for example, by any paper published in a journal or in a repository, such as arXiv hosted at Cornell University and iMechanica hosted at Harvard University.

Theme of the Month. At the beginning of a month, the Discussion Leader of the Month will post the Theme of the Month as a new forum topic in the Journal Club Forum. The post should consist of an introduction to the Theme, and links to 3-5 papers. The Theme of the Month will stay as the top entry in the front page of iMechanica until next theme is posted.

Discussion Leader. The Discussion Leader of the Month is a registered user that has the full responsibility in articulating the theme of the month, selecting the papers, and motivating the discussion. Before a theme is due, the Discussion Leader should seek to publicize her theme (but not the papers), for example, by contacting her friends and colleagues for suggestions, and by posting an advertisement in iMechanica. Once the theme is online, the Discussion Leader should motivate discussions, for example, by emailing questions and comments to relevant experts.

The Discussion Leader should refrain from selecting her own papers, or papers by her students and advisers, or papers by her collaborators. The Discussion Leader of the month will be guided by the Discussion Leader of the last month, and by the Editor. Each Discussion Leader can serve no more than 1 month in a year.

Discussions. The Theme of the Month and the papers are a means to an end: facilitating discussions at the forefront of mechanics among mechanicians. All registered users are welcome to comment on these papers. In the comment on a paper, a user may discuss the ideas in the paper and their relations to other papers, especially the papers that he knows the best: his own papers. He can also relate the paper to a broader context. Or he can simply say that he finds this paper is pointless, and the theme of the research a waste of time. Such negative comments, thoughtfully made, are just as valuable as positive ones.

Editor. A certain registered user will serve a one-year term as the Editor of the Journal Club. The Editor will guide the development of the Journal Club, and ensure smooth functioning of the Journal Club by selecting the Discussion Leaders, after consultation with past Discussion Leaders and other active users of iMechanica. The founding Editor is Pradeep Sharma, whose term starts on 1 January 2007. Future Editors will be elected by the Discussion Leader of the immediate past year.

Archive. On the sidebar of iMechanica is a tab named Journal Club, which links to past themes, as well as themes under development. This archive will be maintained by the Editor, and can also be edited by the Discussion Leaders.

Journal Club Forum. This forum contains matters concerning the Journal Club. Every registered user can propose a paper (including his own), or a theme of the month, for future inclusion in the Journal Club.

Zhigang Suo's picture

When should we elect the new Editor of the jClub, and how?

Dear Pradeep and everyone else:

The above notes just say that the Editor will serve a one-year term, and the new Editor will be elected among the Discussion Leaders of the past year. It is unclear when we should elect the new Editor, and how. Here are some suggestions.

When. The new Editor should be responsible to line up a list of new Themes of the Month and new Discussion Leaders for the new year. At least several months of lead time are needed. Should we hold the election, say, in the month of July?

How. Many mechanisms are possible. For example, we can have the Discussion Leaders vote among themselves through e-mails. As another example, we can open the election to all registered users. We can use a poll like this one, listing the names of Discussion Leaders who are willing to serve. The poll will be open for a month to all registered users. Well, if things get really interesting, candidates may even want to campaign by posting their visions for the jClub.

Please let us know your opinions on these and other aspects of jClub by leaving comments below.

Pradeep Sharma's picture

Zhigang, good thinking...for

Zhigang, good thinking...for an effective theme/guest editor selection, the new editor indeed will need a lot of lead time. July time frame seems quite appropriate. In the spirit of the Gordon confernece that I attended last year, I am partial to your suggestion regarding polling by ALL registered members rather than just among the guest editors.

Xiaodong Li's picture

July is a good time slot for such an election

Thanks, Zhigang. I think that July is a good time slot for such an election. We may use both mechanisms. I very much like polling by all registered members such that the Journal Club can attract much attention and get more members involved. At that time slot, we may also call for themes for the upcoming year.

Teng Li's picture

Election of Editor of jClub

I also prefer a poll open to all register users for voting the new editor of jClub next year.  An election in July will allow the newly elected editor to get involved and familiar with jClub before her inauguration. This is especially important if the elected editor has not got a chance to serve as a discussion leader.

Patrick Onck's picture

A vote for ...

I think polling would be fun, although people from the Netherlands would have a big disadvantage: we always have a coalition ;-)