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Journal Club Toolkit

Journal clubs are educational meetings where teams gather regularly to critically appraise recent articles from the scientific literature.2 Journal clubs serve as a bridge between research and practice, as they encourage the application of research in clinical practice with the intent of improving patient outcomes. The goals of a journal club are to teach and develop critical appraisal skills; increase exposure to rapidly evolving medical, nursing, and allied health literature; and to facilitate better knowledge and awareness through group discussion.1 This Toolkit is based on the ONS publication: "A How-to Guide: Developing and Creating a Journal Club for Oncology Nurses."

Benefits of joining a Journal Club

  • Build a cohesive team through interprofessional dialogue.
  • Stay current with the latest and best clinical research and quality improvement initiatives.
  • Develop literature appraisal skills.
  • Promote evidence-based practice and quality improvement.
  • Earn continuing education credits for planners and participants.
  • Meet SPIRE requirements for professional advancement.

Journal Club Participant Responsibilities

Remember, you do not need to be an expert! Read the assigned article before attending the journal club meeting, arrive on time, be prepared to participate, and respect differences of opinion. The questions in Appendix 1 (found below) will help you analyze the assigned article and to prepare for your session.

Journal Club Planning Group Responsibilities

  • Form your team. Planning group members may include anyone committed to improving patient care and outcomes.
  • Define the responsibilities of team members. Roles include facilitator, CE/CME coordinator, and marketing coordinator.
  • Schedule monthly meetings to identify topic(s) and review literature.
  • Choose a study from a journal with a high rejection rate to help ensure the scientific merit of the article being reviewed.
  • Complete the article review form Appendix 1.
  • Prepare questions for the group Appendix 2 (found below).
  • Establish a timeline for the discussion session (limited to 1 hour).
  • Set date and time for the discussion session.
  • Market the discussion session.
  • Share the article with Journal Club attendees.
  • Keep it exciting! Invite visiting scientists to present their work or ask experts to provide tips and tricks.

Journal Club Discussion Format 4

Leading a good discussion requires planning. Use the questions in Appendix 1 to analyze the article and the questions in Appendix 2 to help lead the discussion.

  • Introduce the presenter and title of the paper.
  • Evaluate basic knowledge/attitudes and believes of attendees (optional).
  • Provide a brief description of:
    • Paper title
    • Paper goal
    • Setting
    • Research population
  • Discuss main study findings.
  • Discuss other relevant research that supports or does not support the finding of the study.
    • "What is the relationship between this paper and our performance? Do we have to act on this information? If yes, discuss next step."
  • Group discussion and questions.
  • Conclusion and Evaluation.


1Bhattacharya S. Journal club and post-graduate medical education. Indian J Plast Surg. 2017 Sept-Dec;50(3):302-305.
2Esisi M. Journal Clubs. BJM. 2007;355:s138.
3Oncology Nursing Society. (2016). A How-to Guide: Developing and Creating a Journal Club for Oncology Nurses. Retrieved from
4Valizadeh L, et al. Promoting evidence-based nursing through journal clubs. An integrative review. J Res Nurs. 2002 Nov;27(7):606-620.


Appendix 1: Clinical Article Review Sample Questions

  • What is the practice, education, administration, or research question the author(s) is trying to answer?
  • What is the purpose of the article and is it clearly described?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive and current?
  • Are major issues and concepts related to the question identified and clearly defined?
  • Is information missing that is needed to answer the question posed by the author?
  • How high/strong is the study's level of evidence?
  • What recommendations are made for practice, education, administration, and/or research?
  • Are recommendations for practice, education, administration, and/or research supported by the evidence presented in the article?
  • How do the authors' recommendations compare with practice education, administration, and/or research policies and procedures in your setting?
  • What changes, if any, would you recommend in your setting based on the evidence presented in the article?
  • What type of resources and setting processes would be needed tom implement your proposed changes?

Appendix 2: Sample discussion questions:

  • What clinical problem is the article addressing?
  • Is the problem important to the members of the audience?
  • What is the article type? (Case study, Literature Review, Synthesis of the Evidence, Randomized Controlled Trial)
  • What clinical problem is being addressed in the article? Why is the problem important to the members of the audience?
  • What is the study design is used to address the clinical question: case study, randomized controlled trial, quality improvement, synthesis of the evidence?
  • What sources of evidence and search strategies did the authors use to collect evidence about the clinical problem?
  • What were the outcomes or recommendations for practice, education, administration and/or further research based on the evidence presented?
  • Which of the recommendations would you consider implementing in your setting? Why or why not?
  • What would be the next steps in applying the information presented in the article in your clinical setting?