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Journal Clubs Guide: Journal Clubs Guide


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Journal clubs offer multiple benefits, including:

  • linking research and clinical practice
  • assisting in keeping up to date with current research and literature
  • developing critical appraisal skills
  • encouraging the use of evidence-based medicine
  • supporting quality improvement initiatives
  • providing continuing medical education or continuing professional development
  • encouraging teamwork

In this video, Professor Matthias Rillig explains how journal clubs benefit him and his team.

When setting up a journal club, it is important for your club to think about its purpose, goals, and outcomes as a group beforehand and come to a consensus. 

Points to consider include:

Online vs. in person

  • Will the club be held online or in person?
    • Can it be done over Teams?
      • Will you use breakout rooms to separate a large group?
    • Do you have the space to conduct an in person event?

Session Times and Length

  • When will the sessions be held?
    • On a weekend? Evening? Start of the week?
  • How long will each session be?
    • Will you allow time for general catch ups or discussion?

Session Format

  • What format will the sessions take?
  • More information on journal club formats is available on the next tab.

Attendance

  • Who will be attending? 
    • Clinicians from a particular specialty or location? Will people outside the organisation be allowed to join?
  • Will attendance be mandatory or voluntary?

Responsibilities

  • Who will lead the sessions?
    • Do they have the necessary skills?
    • Will the leader be rotated?
      • Will rotated leaders have guidance?
  • Who will distribute the materials beforehand?
    • How will this be done? Via email?
  • Who will book rooms or send Teams invites?

Article

  • How will the article be selected?
    • By vote? By a particular journal's most recent article?
    • Will everyone have access to the article? (Check with the Library).
    • Will the article need to be read beforehand?

Promotion

  • How will you promote the club?
    • Who will be responsible for promotion?
    • What tools will you use?

Feedback

  • Will you collect feedback on the sessions or the presenters?
  • How will this be collected?

The below journal club meeting checklist created by the Library offers additional guidance on setting up a meeting.

A journal club can take on, or combine, different formats. In the traditional journal club, a trainee or new clinician presents an article to the group, and the group discuss the results and findings. Senior clinicians or supervisors provide comments and feedback based on their clinical experience.

In the evidence-based journal club, articles are chosen based on clinical questions arising from clinical practice. Discussions include the critical appraisal of methodological aspects of the literature and whether the findings would impact or change clinical practice. 

In a flipped format journal club, senior clinicians select a relevant clinical topic and a related key article. New clinicians and trainees then select an accompanying background paper and prepare an in-depth discussion prior to the meeting.


The below table from Stroke, outlines the disadvantages and advantages between different journal club formats.

Club Format Aim Advantages Disadvantages
Traditional format Keep up-to-date with recent literature
  • No need to prepare in advance for the attendees
  • Grasp clinical updates in an efficient way
Quality of selected articles is inconsistent; audiences might be ill prepared and disengaged
Evidence-based format Improve critique skills Promote critical appraisal skills and research skills Basic biostatistical and methodological knowledge is needed
Flipped format Engage all learners
  • Provide in-depth discussions
  • All learners are involved
Spend more time on organizing and preparing
Virtual online format Make the journal club more accessible
  • Encourage communication among multiple centers
  • Easy to access without location restriction
Interaction among attendees is limited

From “How to Organize a Journal Club for Fellows and Residents,” by Xiong, L, Giese, A, Pasi, M, Charidimou, A, van Veluw, S & Viswanathan, A, 2018, Stroke, 49(9).

Aim

The goal of the presentation is not to provide a detailed description of the article. Depending on your journal club format, members of the group may have already read the article. Instead, the presentation should focus on highlighting the main points of the article, brining attention to the methodology, results, clinical applications, and relevancy to your group.


Presentation Slides

If you are using presentation slides, ensure that there isn't too much text in each slide and that it is a readable font size and style. Also ensure that you are not simply reading from the presentation slides.

Depending on your journal club, you may also have the opportunity to present in a creative fashion. Try using Prezi or Canva for eye catching presentation designs. 

Monash Health Library runs a regular webinar on how to use Canva for visual design. See the webinar events calendar for more details.


Rehearsal

Remember to rehearse your presentation. This ensures a smooth delivery of your speech, including timing, pacing, and pronunciation. 

If you are presenting online, familarise yourself with the technology or platform the club uses ahead of time. 

  • Do you have a microphone and camera? Are they working?
  • Do you know how to share your screen?
  • Do you know how to set up break out rooms?

The below journal club presenter's checklist created by the Library offers additional guidance for presenters.


The below video from Dr. Farzana Hoque provides some tips and tricks for presenting at a journal club.

Monash Health

The Monash Health guide aims to help you to lead a journal club. It will introduce the principles of evidence-based practice and provide a foundation of understanding and skills in appraising the evidence for quality, reliability, accuracy and relevance. The following aspects of the appraisal of evidence will include:

  • identifying study objectives
  • Recognising study design
  • Understanding study characteristics
  • Recognising the potential for bias in a study
  • Considering the validity of study results
  • Understanding study results
  • Examining possible conclusions

Critical Appraisal Skills Program (UK)

The Critical Appraisals Skills Programme (CASP) provides training to clinicians in the UK about critically evaluating medical literature. CASP has developed a number of checklists for medical literature, based on study type.


Monash Health Library

Monash Health Library provides regular speciality webinar training on evidence-based practice and how to critically appraise medical literature. This training is an overview of the principles and practical skills you need with exercises using real clinical papers and checklists. This session covers:

  • Understanding the critical appraisal process
  • An overview of critical appraisal tools and checklists
  • Practice applying a checklist to a medical paper.

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