Journal Club: postponed to Thursday

Hey all,

If you're anxious for the first installation of the Journal Club, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow Thursday, sorry! Moving back to Germany requires quite a bit of planning... [and then I forgot the article at work]

In the meantime, if you're scratching your head and are unsure about how to proceed with reviewing an academic paper, I suggest the following approach:

  1. Read the abstract and think of each sentence as one of the main points that the authors are trying to focus on.
  2. Read the background, read what was measured and assessed, then skip to the the results, focusing on the figures of meaningful data backed up by in-text detail of results (aka not figures of statistic results, but of what measured results mean). Now go back to the materials and methods, re-read the results and look at the figures with that in mind. While the materials and methods are useful and necessary to understand the study, the results should be addressing problems raised in the discussion.
  3. Read the discussions or conclusion closely, and see if you can identify the main arguments being made in relation to any hypotheses.
  4. Check for supplementary material that would enlighten you.
  5. Reread the abstract - was it accurate?
  6. Are the sources referenced appropriate? Are they referenced correctly (note, this is difficult to do unless you plan to read every paper in the references section or you're familiar with a particular paper referenced)? Are the statistics appropriate (this is an open question, stats are argued ad nauseum at every Journal Club I've been to)?
  7. How easy was the article to read? Did it jump around a lot or was there a proper flow in the structure?
  8. What did you like about the article? Try to find something that you like.
  9. What is bugging you about the article? There will be something. Maybe it's grammar, lack of clear thoughts, too much jargon, awful or useless figures, statistical errors, leaps of unsubstantiated faith, or idealistic interpretations of the results.
  10. Would you recommend this article to a colleague, a non-scientific citizen, a news outlet, a science teacher?
These are just off the top of my head, I hope it helps. If not, here's a checklist from the Society for Vascular Nursing - skip the first bit about running a journal club, and ignore references to things specific to nursing, and it's very useful.


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