Referees make journal clubs fun

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7380.106 (Published 11 January 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:106
  1. Luis S Gonzalez III, associate programme director (lgonzal{at}conemaugh.org)
  1. Department of Medicine, Memorial Medical Center, 1086 Franklin Street, Johnstown, PA 15905, USA

    EDITOR—Gibbons described how to make a journal club experience potentially more successful.1 His highly structured approach to the traditional journal club format is certainly a necessary ingredient for success. Many of the problems with the traditional approach, such as monopolisation of the discussion by a few individuals, failure to read the article, and incredibly dry and boring Microsoft PowerPoint presentations are not, however, solved by this approach.

    We have organised our journal club around a debate team format.

    Firstly, we provide instruction on literature evaluation and use the articles by Trisha Greenhalgh in the BMJ as background reading. 2 3

    Secondly, two interns pick an article of choice, and a senior resident approves the selections. The senior resident is also the referee of the debate. He or she comes to the journal club equipped with a referee shirt, whistle, and stopwatch. The attendees are randomly assigned to one of two teams. We have pro and con sides for each article and two debatable questions per article. These questions are carefully chosen to ensure that all skills necessary to evaluate literature are taught. The teams meet briefly to develop their strategies, and then the fun begins. Of course the referee with his whistle and stopwatch ends deliberations promptly.

    The evaluations from residents and attendees on this format have been overwhelmingly positive. We have seen increased participation from formerly silent individuals, and the club is not only educational but fun.


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