Early experience of a virtual journal club

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Traditional journal club models based on didactic presentation sessions followed by group discussion have many limitations. To overcome some of these shortcomings, a virtual journal club (VJC) using social media and e–mail was developed. The aim of this study was to report the initial experience of this novel multimodal e–learning platform to facilitate journal club discussion and promote the development of critical appraisal skills.


Journal articles were discussed monthly via e–mail and social media. After a 3–week period of discussion, all comments were collated and group-generated critical appraisal summaries were fed back to participants. In addition, letters to the journal editors based on the group appraisal were submitted. A questionnaire survey to evaluate the VJC concept was also conducted.


After eight cycles of the VJC, the mean trainee participation rate was 29.6 per cent (range 21.1–42.1%). Senior trainees (≥4 years of postgraduate experience) were more likely to participate than more junior trainees (75.0 versus 21.1%; p = 0.005). The majority of participants thought that the VJC was educationally valuable, easy to participate in, helpful in keeping up to date with recent papers and useful in developing critical appraisal skills. Barriers to participation were lack of time, motivation and lack of experience in critical appraisal. In addition, the group-generated critical appraisal summaries derived from VJC discussions led to eight published ‘letters to the editor’.


This novel VJC model is a feasible and popular method of delivering a journal club in the postgraduate setting.

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