Interprofessional Practice Based Research
March 3, 2020
Discussing and critically analyzing current research with colleagues
Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. In 1875, out of the necessity to read a wider range of articles that would otherwise not have been available to him due to prohibitive cost, Sir William Osler established a formalized journal club in Montreal at McGill University.
That’s right – did you know that this time-enduring tradition has some of its roots in Canada? While Osler’s journal club was not likely the first journal club in the world (some research suggests there may have been some similar organizations in London and Germany), it was likely the first North American journal club. The cost of purchasing periodicals as a sole reader would have been prohibitive at the time to Osler, so he organized for a group of people to come together to defray the cost and share the benefit of access to a larger collection of articles.
Initially journal clubs were held for medical education purposes, and focused on specific topics. Even as periodicals became more readily available, people continued to hold journal clubs to discuss and critically analyze novel research findings. These clubs took place in person and typically occurred on a regularly scheduled basis (i.e., on weekly, bi-weekly or monthly intervals). Expanding beyond the field of medical education, journal clubs were used across various research training disciplines and allied health disciplines to review current literature and stimulate discussion.
So is there a use for a journal club in the modern age where you can quickly Google information and ideas? It turns out there’s still a significant benefit!
Originally created to foster an environment for teaching research and clinical epidemiology, the application of statistical procedures, and fostering discussion and critical thought, these purposes still hold true today. Presenting a summary of the research helps to make information more memorable and allows it to be more readily called up in one’s mind in future. Actively discussing statistical procedures, identifying steps one took to analyze and assess findings, and noting whether the correct tests were applied allows participants to think of creative ways to analyze their own research and devise new questions. An open forum for critical analysis and thought allows for the generation of new ideas, sharing of different views, and identification of gaps in knowledge.
Today a range of journal club styles exist. The traditional journal club where articles are selected and presented for discussion, including a summary of the hypotheses, methods, results, and discussion is still used. However, where members once used to come together in one room at the same time to have such a discussion, new formats exist for virtual journal clubs where people from multiple sites can partake by video conference, or even at different times on twitter. Twitter journal clubs have become a popular way for having a discussion, where questions related to the article are tweeted out, and multiple respondents can answer during a period of time both to the original question and to the comments made by other participants.
This format has proven especially beneficial as it also automatically generates a history of comments and thoughts people have shared that can later be referred back to. Live tweeting of in-person journal clubs brings together traditional journal clubs and shares the discussion with others following along remotely, and allows their comments to be shared back in the room. This type of format can still allow a traditional presentation of the article to occur, alongside a virtual discussion. People who may not be able to join in person due to various constraints can still partake and share their thoughts, creating the possibility of a more varied discussion than may have happened solely in person.
So now that you’ve learned a bit about the history and benefit of a journal club, you might like to partake in one … but how? The Interprofessional Practice Based Research program (IPBR) has a monthly journal club for our nurses and health disciplines at St. Michael’s Hospital and across Unity Health Toronto who would like to partake in person. Our journal club focuses on a range of issues relating to the provision of care by nurses and health disciplines. A quick Google search can find existing journal clubs that you might find interesting and that will be open access for new members. As mentioned above, Twitter-based journal clubs also exist where people can have a twitter discussion at a set time, often to pre-generated sets of questions. Or perhaps you’re looking for a discipline-specific journal club within the hospital? Check with your department to see if they host a journal club. And if they don’t have one? Perhaps you’ll take a page from Sir William Osler’s book and out of necessity you’ll consider starting one yourself – and yes, you can count on IPBR to help you with that, it would be our pleasure!
Connecting with IPBR
The Interprofessional Practice Based Research program at St. Michael’s Hospital assists nurses and health disciplines professionals at St. Michael’s Hospital engage in the identification, implementation, and evaluation of best practices through research.
The IPBR Journal Club helps me to stay up to date on current evidence that impacts clinical practice, and provides a venue to critically appraise recent articles on point of care questions. - Cecilia Santiago, RN, Nursing Practice Manager