Rules of Conduct

What is an example of a great Whiskey Papers presentation?

Usually a great presentation starts from a simple quirky piece of primary literature. These are little nuggets of scientific “truth,” ideally with an experimental study of some sort.

  • Presenter understands the paper mostly, but not completely.
  • She summarizes it and then starts to criticize it or the authors.
  • Weird fun sentences from the paper presented can be read aloud.
  • New vocabulary words can be defined for the group.
  • Hearing why this paper is interesting to the presenter is crucial.
  • It’s good practice to add details about the author and/or who funded the research. This can lead to fun insights by the group.
  • Sketches or other visual shortcuts of main points of the paper can be useful.
  • Some attendees break all rules and create art around the topic. This is a welcome higher level of commitment to the event, go for it if your inner poet is calling.

Picking a paper tips:

  • The back page of Harper’s “Findings” usually is a good jumping off point.
  • The New Scientist has (in my opinion) the best articles about recent scientific findings. They tend to be very progressive in their selection of science to bring attention to. Interestingly, publications’ science sections like NYTimes, Wa-pos, Le Monde, etc. usually pick up these articles a few weeks later. Use these as a starting point to find the actual paper being talked about. For example, from this article to go find this paper: from the journal of Stem and Cell
  • Extra credit: It’s fun to criticize a news outlet’s review of the actual paper.
  • if you already know the topic you want. As a curious free thinker I try to limit my google exposure. But, clearly I mostly don’t succeed (…this is a google doc).
  • Look at old science! There are some gems out there. Scientists, especially in the biological sciences, were more free to make crazy connections and anthropomorphize back then. These “men” were also freely quite sexist or racist, which make for interesting retrospectives.
  • All-time greatest Whiskey Papers to date:
  • Books don’t work well. They are too long to distill into 5 minutes. Use the book to look up the actual science behind the book.
  • Beware of “review papers,” these are aggregations of science about a certain topic. Although they are fun to read to get acquainted with a topic, they are very hard to present because of their wide scope.


Try not to pay for the papers (these should be free options):

Alias and stage names

We recommend using an alias for the event. It adds to the fun.

Growing the community

Your invitation is only for yourself. You can suggest a guest only if you have attended.

Why can’t I present my own paper or work?

  • Whiskey Papers’ magic has been fine-tuned over many years and dozens of events. We have observed that when presenting your own work the resulting conversations and insights are limited. A main reason is politeness — other guests do not freely laugh or criticize the author to their face. Another main reason is that it’s more fun when the playing field is equal.
  • Too many experts in the room can exclude other guests.
  • Nearly all guests who are invited to this event spend a lot of time networking and pitching IRL. Putting that part of their lives on hold for a night is cathartic.

Exceptions to presenting

Some hosts can offer exceptions to presenting to their guests for help with the planning and execution of the event. Feel free to ask if you can take over one of the following roles:

  • Food/catering
  • Note taking
  • Setup and clean up

Note: you must still be on the official guest list. This role can’t be for a +1.