A Guide on Presenting at a Journal Club

Know more about what to include in your presentation to convey your findings with your peers, and a lot of practical tips to help you succeed in a journal club!

JUMP TO

  1. Choosing an article
  2. Presenting an article
    1. Contents
    2. Tips for your oral presentation
    3. Practical tips for nervous first-timers

Choosing an article

  • Choose a recently published article, dealing with the problems commonly encountered in clinical practice and issues you are interested in. 
    • You can use OVID MEDLINE, PUBMED and so on to search for articles and display those published within a certain range of years.
    • A good quality paper is generally made up of objectives that are concise (and not too many), with a clear methodology (can be RCT, observational, etc.), and non-biased results with appropriately derived conclusions.
    • Avoid reviews, editorials or viewpoints, and/or advanced/specialised areas wherever possible.
  • Prioritize original articles over systematic reviews or meta-analyses.
  • Select an article from a journal with a good impact factor or those that belong to specific medical societies.
    • Many excellent papers are published but the data does not lend itself well to a clear presentation.

Overall features should clearly state:

  • WHY the article is focused on the problem in the first place (significance) – usually found in the Introduction.
  • REFERENCES, shouldn’t have to go to additional sources unless you need to check for specifics.  
  • WHAT is the problem to be solved – see introduction. 
  • HOW the problem is to be solved – see Experimental Procedures.  
  • CONCLUSIONS of the paper – see Discussion.

TIP: Reading the author’s stated conclusions before forming your own ideas about the validity of the paper may influence your appraisal.

Presenting an article

Q. What should I use to make the presentation?

PowerPoint or Google Slides will help convey the structure of the presentation and the data under discussion.

Contents of the presentations

You will need to prepare two sets of slides

Presentation 1: An Overview

An overview of the article is essential in ensuring that all participants, presenters and/or guests understand the main ideas and gist of the article. 

Present an overall summary of the article and highlight the main points using the headings below as a guide:

  • Aim of Study
  • Methodology
  • Primary & Secondary Outcomes
  • Results of each outcome
  • Author’s Discussion
  • Author’s Conclusion

Presentation 2: The Critical Appraisal

The core of any journal club, critically appraising the article encourages participants and presenters alike to comprehend the validity and reliability of an article’s findings. The purpose here is to provide the participants with the presenter’s own view of their appraisal, thus encouraging participants to identify gaps in their own appraisals or bring up a discussion if warranted. Find out more about critical appraisals.

1. Article and Author
  • Consider the title of the paper, the author and their affiliated institution(s).
  • Mention any outstanding features of the article 
    • E.g. first study of its kind, well-known author(s) or affiliated institutions. 
  • What is the impact factor of the journal?
  • What is the circulation (i.e. regional, national or  international) and who is the readership?
2. Hypothesis and Aim
  • Summarise the research question using the P.I.C.O format.
    • Population: Sample studied
    • Intervention: Intervention or treatment tested
    • Comparison: Reference group or control group of the study (may not always be present)
    • Outcome: Outcome tool(s) used in the study to measure the effectiveness of intervention
    • e.g. ‘‘Does high dose atorvastatin for 5 years reduce the incidence of stroke among patients with recent stroke or TIA and no known CHD?’”
  • Hypothesis formulation/null hypothesis
  • Rationale/purpose/objectives of the study (author’s view)
    • Usually in the author’s introduction (in the context of other literature).
3. Evidenced-based research (optional)
  • Utilize papers referenced in the chosen study and other relevant literature to answer the following:
    • What is already known on the subject and is this information correctly mentioned in the article?
    • Is the hypothesis of the chosen article correct?
    • Is the research question still important and relevant in the context of the existing evidence base?
    • What does the study contribute to the existing evidence base?
    • Have they assessed or validated something new?
4. The study design
  • Mention the level of evidence given by the study type
    •  e.g. RCT, retrospective cohort, case control, meta-analysis, cross-sectional, descriptive, decision analytic, or cost effectiveness?
  • Is the study type used appropriate to the research question?
    • e.g: duration, location 
  • Population Studied
    • Can the results of the study be generalized?
    • Setting? e.g. multicentre, population-based, name of hospital / city, or subspecialty clinic?
  • Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria
  • Intervention & Control Groups
5. Methodology
  • You may use a diagrammatic schema.
  • The process of the study 
    • How was the study conducted?
      • Has randomization been done?
        • Has blinding been used? If yes – what type?
      • Was the method and approach to the study appropriately diligent?
      • Were processes consistent? 
      • Was follow-up complete and consistent in each group?
      • Are the statistical tools adopted suitable and correctly interpreted by the investigators?
      • Have the authors made a power statement (like p-value, alpha, beta, power, power analysis and effect size)?
      • What significance level has been used (p-value)?
      • Has the power of the study been stated, does it exceed 80%?
      • Was there follow-up done? If so, what’s the duration and were there any loss to follow-up?
6. Assessment of Outcomes
  • What are the primary & Secondary outcomes of the study?
    • What outcome measures were used and were they appropriate
    • Explain the statistical methods used (briefly)
7. Reliability
  • Verbally and graphically highlight key results from the study, with plans to expand on their significance later in your presentation
  • Are the results statistically significant/Is the null-hypothesis rejected?
  • Limit your summary of the results to the primary question and only present secondary results if they are relevant.
  • Do not try to present all data, but rather focus on essential points
  • Strengths & limitations of results
  • Optional: you can provide additional calculations or tabulations that were not listed in the study through your own calculations (eg: NNT,, OR,ARR, chi-square, independent t-test) 
    • Consider this only if it provides additional relevant information in you study
8. Application to current clinical practice
  • Clinical application/validity/generalisability of the study
    • Utilising number needed to treat (NNT) (optional)
      • One can assess the true impact of the study intervention on clinical practice.
      • Incorporating the incidence rates of clinically significant toxicities with the financial costs into the NNT you can generate a rather sophisticated analysis of the study’s impact on practice.
  • Any conflicts of evidence with other trials?/What does the study  contribute to the existing literature 
  • Trade-offs between potential benefits of the study intervention versus potential risks and the cost?
  • Do the results from this study influence the future clinical practices or guidelines?
9. Conclusions
  • Author’s Discussion
    • Present the authors’ conclusions and their perspective on the study results, including explanations of inconsistent or unexpected results.
  • Consider whether the results support the author’s conclusion
  • Any conflicts of interest declared by the authors?
  • Article Critique
    • The strengths and limitations/weaknesses/potential biases
      • Consider the different aspects (study design, hypothesis, inclusion/exclusion criteria etc)
      • Are the authors’ claims correct?
      • Is the statistically significant finding also clinically significant?
    • Funding sources and authors’ affiliations
    • Accompanying editorial commentary, which can provide a unique perspective on the article and highlight controversial issues.
10. What are the future prospects of this study?
  • Base this on your own knowledge/research done, or it may be mentioned in the study itself.
  • Testing the reproducibility of the trial
  • Consider repeating the trial by
    • Removing or adding confounders, inclusion/exclusion criteria
    • Involving  a different population group
    • or a different control group
  • Investigating a different outcome
    • e.g.: cost effectiveness

TIPS FOR YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION

  1. Know the background material.
    1. Know the research that has preceded and is related to the paper.
  2. Make your presentation concise.
    1. Every paper has details about methods, results, discussion, future directions and so on.
    2. It is helpful to provide your audience the general flow of the entire paper and research before adding in all the details.
    3. Highlight and label important parts of the figures.
    4. Define abbreviations, and avoid excessive jargon.
  3. Simplify unfamiliar concepts.
    1. It can be helpful to give a short summary of techniques and results.
    2. Detailed explanations can be provided later on, as the primary focus of presenting the paper should be giving an overview of the research.
  4. Ask yourself questions about the paper before you present.
    1. You may discover some questions you have about the methods.
    2. Share with the group the questions you came across yourself and any answers you may have found to address them.
  5. Ask specific questions to the members of the journal club.
    1. During discussion, ask the group for their thoughts on specific topics found in the paper to create a starting point for conversation about the paper.
    2. Questions can be about methods, results, general ideas, and much more!
  6. Never assume the audience’s:
    1. Understanding of the technique
      1. Always explain how each experiment is done and the limitations of the technique.  
    2.  Think & always explain:
      1. what question the experiment is going to answer, 
      2. the conclusion of each experiment, 
      3. the limits of result interpretation, and
      4. whether the experiment answers the question.  
    3. Listening
      1. At the end of your presentation, consolidate and present the problem/question again,
        1. e.g.: the minimum relevant pieces of data that answered the question, the conclusion and if the data supports the conclusion.
  7. Need for background knowledge on the matter discussed 
    1. If the paper focuses on a specific protein, it is important to look up some basic aspects of this protein family. 
    2. You will invariably get questions about the functional domains, orthologs and homologs.

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR NERVOUS FIRST-TIMERS

  • The attending faculty members are not there to judge you – they are there because they find the paper or the topic interesting.  
  • You are not expected to be an expert in this area but you are expected to put in a sincere and determined effort.  
  • When you are confronted with critical comments about the paper, don’t take it personally. It is not your work – you are merely presenting it.  
  • An active discussion (including criticisms about the results and conclusions) shows that the audience is engaged and you are doing your job.  
  • You should feel free to play the devil’s advocate and defend the author(s) but you are not obliged to. 
  • If you feel extremely nervous before the presentation, take a moment and tell the audience that you are nervous and it will take a few minutes before you settle down.

Author: Dillon Arnand Kanagalingam (SIGMUM 2021/2022)

Recommended reading

  1. https://epomedicine.com/medical-students/how-present-journal-club/ 
  2. https://www.med.upenn.edu/mdresearchopps/assets/user-content/Resources/ImprovingJournalClubPresentations.pdf
  3. https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/welch-center-for-prevention-epidemiology-and-clinical-research/_docs/_pre-2016-redesign/Journal_Club_Aids/JrnlClub_Tips.pdf

References

  1. Bauer L. 5 Tips for Journal Club First-Timers [Internet]. Bethesda: NIH. [2015 Mar 30] [cited 2021 Sep 20]. Available from: https://irp.nih.gov/blog/post/2015/03/5-tips-for-journal-club-first-timers
  2. Bowles P, Marenah K, Ricketts D, Rogers B. How to prepare for and present at a journal club. Br J Hosp Med (Lond) [Internet]. 2013 Oct [cited 2021 Sep 20];74(10):C150-2. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258857561_How_to_prepare_for_and_present_at_a_journal_club doi: 10.12968/hmed.2013.74.Sup10.C150
  3. Department of pharmacology. Journal Club Tips How to Give a Good Journal Club Presentation [Internet]. Charlottesville: University of Virginia. [unknown date] [cited 2021 Sep 20]. Available from: https://pharm.virginia.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/49/files/2014/03/JournalClubTips.pdf?r=1 
  4. Sawhney R. How to prepare an outstanding journal club presentation [Internet]. The Hematologist. American Society of Hematology; 2006 [cited 2021 Sep 20]. Available from: https://ashpublications.org/thehematologist/article/doi/10.1182/hem.V3.1.1308/461839/How-to-Prepare-an-Outstanding-Journal-Club 
  5. Dr. Sulabh Kumar Shrestha P. How to present a Journal Club? | Epomedicine [Internet]. Epomedicine. 2021 [cited 20 September 2021]. Available from: https://epomedicine.com/medical-students/how-present-journal-club

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