• Let’s go clubbing – setting up a Journal Club

    by Alan Batt. Last modified: 16/03/14


    What is a Journal Club?

    A journal club is an educational meeting in which a group of individuals discuss current articles, providing a forum for a collective effort to keep up with the literature.

    Why have a Journal Club?

    The general purpose of a journal club is to facilitate the review of specific research studies and to discuss implications of the study for clinical practice. There are many advantages of participating in a journal club, including

    • keeping abreast of new knowledge
    • promoting awareness of current prehospital research findings
    • learning to critically analyse and appraise research
    • becoming familiar with the best current clinical research
    • encouraging further research.

    Make sure that there is a link between what you discuss and clinical practice – this is a key ingredient to a successful journal club. The discussion and findings from your journal club participation can

    • help you to become a better prehospital practitioner
    • improve your clinical care
    • improve patient outcomes
    • be easily added to your CPD portfolio

    Identify the goals of the journal club. If the group is fairly inexperienced in critiquing research, then a useful beginner exercise is to critique the same article as a group so that discussion about how to critique a research article can occur. Our How to read a paper guide, and our various posts on evidence based practice will also help you in this.

    Rules of Journal Club


    How do I set up a Journal Club?

    1. Identify a leader. This should be someone who is committed to the idea and is willing to organise the project.
    2. Distribute copies of the research article and the journal club questions to interested persons via email and/or print.
    3. Set up a convenient meeting time and location (monthly, during lunch time, meet for an early dinner in a restuarant – journal club is supposed to be fun!)
    4. Identify a facilitator for the meeting – initially, this could be a clinical educator or paramedic lecturer, with journal club members then taking turns to lead subsequent sessions
    5. Hold the journal club and encourage participation of those attending by using the discussion questions below.
    6. Have snacks and refreshments on hand – remember that journal club is supposed to be interesting and enjoyable! (our favourite is pizza!)
    7. Evaluate the journal club – at the end of the session, gather feedback from participants
    8. Determine how the next meeting could be improved (more attendance, more than one session, record session for those unable to attend, stream session on web etc.)
    9. Share the results! It is vitally important to share the learning with others who may be working nights, on leave or working during the time of the meeting. You can do this by email, Twitter, Facebook group, noticeboard post etc. – find what works for your particular station/workplace. You can also request a Journal Club forum on our forum!
    10. Schedule the next meeting!

    What Journals can we use?

    Here’s an example of some journals that may be useful, their publication frequency, and whether they are open-access or need a subscription. Also note that in Ireland and the UK, some of these titles may be accessed through an OpenAthens account.


    Journal Name Frequency/year Access options
    Air Medical Journal 6 (bi-monthly) Subscription (free for IAFCCP/ASTNA/ members)
    Australasian Journal of Paramedicine 4 (quarterly) Open access (web)
    BMC Emergency Medicine 12 (monthly) Open access (web)
    British Medical Journal (BMJ) Weekly Open access (web)
    Circulation Weekly Open access  (web)
    Emergency Medicine Journal (EMJ) 12 (monthly) Subscription
    International Paramedic Practice 4 (quarterly) Subscription (free for PHECC registrants)
    Journal of Emergency Medical Services 12 (monthly) Subscription (digital only $20 worldwide)
    Journal of Paramedic Practice 12 (monthly) Subscription (discount for CoPUK members)
    Lancet Weekly Subscription
    New England Journal of Medicine Weekly Subscription
    Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 6 (bi-monthly) Subscription
    Prehospital Emergency Care 4 (quarterly) Subscription (discount for NAEMT/NAEMSE members)
    Resuscitation 12 (monthly) Subscription (free for ERC members, discount for AHA members)
    Resuscitation UK / British Journal of Resuscitation 4 (quarterly) Subscription
    Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 12 (monthly) Open access (web)

    Check out our full list of open-access journals on our links page.

    What questions should we ask in Journal Club?

    • What is the study’s objective/hypothesis/question?
    • What is the rationale and relevance of the question? (why was the study done?)
    • What is the relevance of this topic/question to prehospital care or Paramedic practice? ( is it urgent or essential reading for a Paramedic or pre-hospital care provider?)
    • What methodological approach (design, analysis, etc.) has been used? (what was done?)
    • What were the results of the study? (what did the investigators find?)
    • What were the strengths & weaknesses of this study? Are the results valid? Look at
      • study design
      • appropriateness of the method(s)
      • population and sample size
      • appropriate study conduct
      • data gathering
      • subject follow-up
      • influences of bias
      • methods of analysis
      • discussion
      • currentness and comprehensiveness of the listed references
    • Do the conclusions follow logically from the design and results?
    • How do the results relate to current practice and how might they influence future practice? (what does the answer mean anyway? So what? Who cares?)

    Download our free Journal Club Questions worksheet

    Download from: http://prehospitalresearch.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/journalclub.pdf

    Your Journal Club

    Have you a journal club up and running in your station or workplace? We’d love to hear about it, drop us a comment below!

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    Alan Batt

    Alan Batt

    Paramedic, educator, researcher
    Alan is a critical care paramedic, paramedic educator and prehospital researcher, currently working around the world as an educator and researcher. He has previously worked and studied across Europe, North America and the Middle East. He holds a Graduate Certificate in Intensive Care Paramedic Studies, and an MSc in Critical Care. His main interests are in care of the elderly, end-of-life care, patient safety, professionalism (including role and identity), and paramedic education.

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