Journal Clubs

Welcome to our Journal Club page

These pages contain information on creating and maintaining a Journal Club and what support UHB Libraries can offer.

Journal Club Purpose

Before creating a journal club you need to identify if one is needed for your department and why.

Definition of a Journal Club: “Journal club reading is credited with helping health care professionals keep abreast of new knowledge, promoting best practice, and encouraging research utilization” (Turner and Rosewall (2011)).

Overall potential purposes for a journal club are:

  • A way to share and discuss research as a group as well as sharing ideas - discussion will include if and how findings can be applied to practice.
  • Develop knowledge and skills such as critical appraisal.
  • Help to stay up-to-date with developments in the field.
  • Source evidence-based information which can be used to develop/update guidelines and policies.
  • Support medical students in their education.
  • Support the personal and professional development to staff, e.g. improve confidence in giving presentations.
  • Journal clubs can also help with team-building and providing a safe place to talk to colleagues (particularly useful for new starters).

Example format of a Journal Club

  1. A journal club should have a co-ordinator who will manage areas such as rotas, make sure admin tasks are completed and encourage discussion at meetings - basically, keep everything running efficiently. 
  2. Each session will have a lead (this will be based on a select number of individuals on a rota basis) who will select a suitable paper for discussion after reviewing articles from a literature search. Alternatively a guest speaker may be invited.
  3. The article should be emailed/printed and given to attendees to read around one-two weeks before meeting. Attendees will read and make notes to bring with them.
  4. At the meeting itself, the lead will give a presentation with a summary of the paper’s findings (suggested time around 10 minutes) before opening to discussion. The lead will prompt to encourage discussion. 
    1. UHB Libraries recommend using the CASP checklists  to help structure your session and create discussion.
    2. A potential way to carry out discussion is to look at each section of the paper in turn.
  5. Ask attendees to complete an evaluation form and review feedback – adjustments can then be made to future sessions. 

Creating and maintaining a Journal Club

The first step for creating a Journal Club is to set clear goals, for example finding information for a new procedure the department would like to introduce, and deciding on the target audience. Without a clear goal, attendance can start to decline. Goals can be both long-term and short-term and help determine if this is a temporary or permanent Journal Club. This links to whether the journal club should be made optional or compulsory and/or if incentives will be offered (mandatory is more often used than optional).

The timing of the Journal Club is another important factor to encourage attendance; typically a regular date and time can help with this with monthly or bimonthly (six times per year) being suggested frequencies. The time of the Journal Club will vary; you may want to consider organizing it at a time that doesn’t affect clinical hours.

Other points to consider:

  • What is the maximum number of attendees?
  • Do you want to use an appraisal tool and, if so, which one? As mentioned above, UHB Libraries recommened the CASP checklists but there are many others to choose from.
  • Does your Journal Club need a sponsor?

In-person or online?

Choosing between in-person or online should be considered as it can assist with encouraging attendance. It may also be possible to create a hybrid Journal Club of mixing between in-person and online.

Currently for online, the Trust has access to Microsoft Teams but discussion over email, through blogs and social media have also been used in the past. Again, an online version may help with attendance figures as it saves times that would be spent moving to a new location in the hospital (or to a new site) and also gives attendees more time to prepare and read the paper.

If choosing in-person, the environment should be informal but private to encourage discussion and have the necessary equipment, e.g. projector and laptop/PC for presentations. It should be in an area that you can easily book for a regular session.

Remember Copyright

  • The NHS England CLA Licence permits NHS organisations to make digital copies of journal articles that are owned by the NHS, for use by authorised persons (NHS staff and students).
  • Copies can be made from up to 2 articles from any single journal issue and they may be shared with any colleagues within the NHS

For more information, visit CLA Licence Website or contact your site library.

Library Support

Areas where libraries can support journal clubs are:

  • Carrying out literature searches: our team are available to carry out evidence-based literature searches using high quality healthcare databases such as Medline, CINAHL and Cochrane Library. Requests are completed within five working days. You can find the link to the form on the left-hand side.
  • Sourcing documents:
    • We have access to a large collection of online journals all of which can be accessed 24/7 from any device with an OpenAthens account:
    • We also offer a document supply service where we can source articles from other NHS Libraries. All sites can access this service from: or the form on this website.
  • Training on literature searching and critical appraisal (live training, videos and eLearning). See our training pages for more details.

Consultation with a Librarian

Need further advice? Contact our librarians Jennifer Manders or Laura Walsh who will be happy to help you with your journal club query.