A journal club is a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in the academic literature, generally of some branch of science or philosophy. Journal clubs are usually organized around a defined subject in basic or applied research. For example, the application of evidence-based medicine to some area of medical practice can be facilitated by a journal club. Typically, each participant can voice their view relating to several questions such as the appropriateness of the research design, the statistics employed, the appropriateness of the controls that were used, etc. There might be an attempt to synthesize together the results of several papers, even if some of these results might first appear to contradict each other. Even if the results of the study are seen as valid, there might be a discussion of how useful the results are and if these results might lead to new research or to new applications.
Journal clubs are sometimes used in the education of graduate or professional students. These help make the student become more familiar with the advanced literature in their new field of study. In addition, these journal clubs help improve the students' skills of understanding and debating current topics of active interest in their field. This type of journal club may sometimes be taken for credit. Research laboratories may also organize journal clubs for all researchers in the lab to help them keep up with the literature produced by others who work in their field.
The earliest references to a journal club is found in a book of memoirs and letters by the late Sir James Paget, a British surgeon, who describes a group at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London in the mid-19th century as "a kind of club ... a small room over a baker's shop near the Hospital-gate where we could sit and read the journals."
Sir William Osler established the first formalized journal club at McGill University in Montreal in 1875. The original purpose of Osler's journal club was "for the purchase and distribution of periodicals to which he could ill afford to subscribe."
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- Milbrandt, Eric B., and Jean-Louis Vincent. "Evidence-based medicine journal club." Critical Care (2004): 401-02. PubMed. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Nov. 2004. Web. 10 Jan. 2010. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1065082/>.
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