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!


  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. Background

Provides your audience with the necessary information and context for a thoughtful and critical evaluation of the article’s significance.

  • Outline what the study is about, eg:
    • Definitions
      • e.g.: What is hysterectomy
    • Epidemiology
  • Introduction
    • Did the study introduction address relevant points
    • Was the study original, is it the first study of its kind?
    • Were the aims clearly stated
  • Describe the rationale for and clinical relevance (reviewers opinion) 
    • To highlight the pre-clinical and clinical research that led to the current trial (what was known before)
      • Review the papers referenced in the study’s “Background” section as well as previous work by the study’s authors. 
      • It also may be helpful to discuss data supporting the current standard of care against which the study intervention is being measured.
      • Aspects of current medical guidelines.
  • A brief introduction on the relevance of the paper (optional) 
    • A clinical scenario/clinical question that prompted you to consult the literature  and what drew you to the article. 
    • Briefly explain how the article is relevant to a patient or problem you are considering.
2. Article and Author
  • Consider the title of the paper, the author and their affiliated institution(s).
    • Who wrote the paper
    • Do they or the institution have a proven academic record
  • What is the impact factor of the journal?
  • What is the circulation (i.e. regional, national or  international) and who is the readership?
3. PICO & Hypothesis
  • 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).
4. 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?
5. 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 appropriate to the research question?
    • e.g: duration, location, cost
6. Methodology
  • You may use a diagrammatic schema.
  • Recruitment
    • What was the Population Studied ?
      • Setting? e.g. multicentre, population-based, name of hospital / city, or subspecialty clinic?
      • Baseline demographic of the population 
    • How were they recruited
    • What were the inclusion and Exclusion criteria 
    • Was the sample size collected justified
      • how was the sample size calculated 
        • as it decided based on population,  or confidence interval (CI) from previous literature?
    • Has randomization been done?
      • Has blinding been used? If yes – what type? How and Who were blinded
      • Has Randomisation been done? How was the randomisation done? 
      • Were groups treated equally other than for experimental intervention
  • Process
    • Were experimental processes consistent? 
    • Were all patients given intervention and properly accounted for? Is there any missing data
  • Follow up
    • Was follow-up complete and consistent in each group?
    • Duration Was there any loss to follow-up?
7. Results and Statistics
  • Results 
    • Were outcome measures stated and relevant
    • Were measurements Valid and Reliable
    • How large was the treatment effect?
    • How precise was the estimate of treatment effect
    • Were side effects and adverse outcomes documented?
  • Statistics
    • Explain the statistical methods used (briefly)
    • Were suitable statistical tools used? Were they interpreted correctly by the investigators?
    • Have the authors declared the statistical power analysis (like p-value, alpha, beta, power, power analysis and effect size)? 
      • What significance level has been used (p-value)?
      • Does the power of the study exceed 80%
    • Was intention to treat (ITT) analysis performed or per protocol analysis performed?
    • Was systematic bias avoided or minimised? If bias is present, was there any adjustment for the bias?
  • Verbally and graphically highlight key results from the study, with plans to expand on their significance later in your presentation
  • 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
  • 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
8. Discussion
  • Author’s Discussion
    • What was the author’s conclusions and their perspective on the study results? (Include explanations of inconsistent or unexpected results)
  • Compare your result with ones already published in previous literature
    • Consider whether this article’s results support the author’s conclusion
  • The strengths and limitations/weaknesses/potential biases
    • Consider the different aspects (study design, hypothesis, inclusion/exclusion criteria etc)
    • Were sources of error discussed?
  • Article Critique (Based on the following)
    • Are the conclusions of the paper justified?
    • Are the relevant findings justified?
    • Are the authors’ claims correct?
    • Is the statistically significant finding also clinically significant?
    • Funding sources and authors’ affiliations
    • Conflicts of interests
    • Accompanying editorial commentary, which can provide a unique perspective on the article and highlight controversial issues.
9. Application to current clinical practice
  • Clinical application/validity/generalisability of the study to other populations
    • Utilising number needed to treat (NNT) (optional)
      • To assess the true impact of the study intervention on clinical practice.
      • Incorporating the incidence rates of clinically significant risks 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?
  • What is the impact of the paper?
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
11. Conclusion
  • Based on everything you have read and analysed, what is your conclusion?
  • Do the results from this study influence the future clinical practices or guidelines?


  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.


  • 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


  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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