How do I start a Reading Group?



I started my PhD 3 weeks ago and have just been asked (read *told*) by my supervisor to start a reading group with the aim of running a funded postgraduate conference by the end of the year. However, not only have I never even been to a reading group, I have no idea what one does (or doesn't do) :$
Can anyone enlighten me?



We have a few in our department, each with a different theme. Basically once a month we meet up to discuss a journal article or book chapter that has been circulated in advance. The person that nominated the reading gives a brief introduction then we spend an hour (usually over lunch) talking about it.

Maybe you could start by sending an email round the department/group asking people for suggested reading and then put together a schedule of monthly meetings?


I'm guessing this is the same as a journal club?

I had to attend two. The first one took place every few weeks and one person from the rota had to find an "interesting" paper and create a powerpoint presentation to discuss the paper:aims, methods, discoveries, results, conclusions, crapness of methods etc. The person had to talk for an hour (including questions) - it's flipping hard to talk about someone else's work for an hour.

The other one was every few weeks too but about 6 people would find an "interesting" paper from the field and were limited to 5 slides and about 10 mins to discuss the paper - crapness or fantasticness of methods.

Things to organise (that I can think of): You need a room with a projector and a computer booked at a particular time slot (fortnightly/monthly).
You need willing participents (postgrads/postdocs) who are in the same field (or similar field) to both attend and also to present (possibly have a presentation rota too)
Set rules - similar to the 10 mins, 5 slides only.


Avatar for sneaks

tea, coffee and cake are essential to encourage people to come! Who wants to talk about some dry academic paper without some kind of incentive?!


I'm only an MSc student so haven't had the responsibility of starting one, but at my university there is a postgraduate reading group that runs for an hour every other week, alternating with a different group where there are presentations from visiting speakers. I think this is the 1st year they've done it, and it was set up by one of the course leaders. I've got the 1st one next week but we all get emailed the reading in advance and then go and discuss it, I think the discussion is led by the lecturer who organised it. Will tell you more after I go next week!


Thank you everyone, it's very reassuring that you're all essentially saying the same things: book a room, get some people together, feed them, and make them talk about articles/books. When you put it like that it sounds quite easy :p I'll let you know how I get on...
And Natassia, I hope you enjoy your first reading group experience too!