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The Research Medical Library has developed a three-part program that can be integrated into an existing journal club or used to provide a starting point for a new journal club. The three sessions cover:
Creating the Question – Turning a clinical scenario into an answerable clinical question and using decision support research tools.

Finding the Evidence – Using the clinical question to search biomedical databases and locate the highest-level of evidence.

Appraising the Evidence – Applying appropriate appraisal tools to journals articles to uncover the quality of the study designs and the applicability of their findings in your field of research.

The librarians will tailor the content of these sessions to your discipline or research interests. 

Librarian role:

The librarian will be responsible for leading the first two sessions.  At the third session, facilitation and presentation of the information will be shared with the journal club leader.  For further involvement, you may decide to choose one of these options:

  1. Embedded librarian – A librarian can attend each journal club meeting and provide “searching on the fly” to look up questions or uncover studies that are relevant to the discussion.  The librarian can also search the clinical question identified the previous month to compare a librarian’s approach to the search and provide feedback on search strategy.
  2. Search consultant – Each member of the journal club group may choose to set up an appointment with the librarian to assist with their search strategy when they are assigned to locate an article for the group to appraise.

Participation of group members:

All group members would rotate through process of:

    • selecting a clinical scenario
    • creating a clinical question
    • presenting these to the group for discussion
    • searching for evidence
    • selecting a representative study
    • presenting search strategy
    • leading appraisal and discussion of the study for the group.

This entire process would take place over two months.  In the first month, the individual (or team) would select a clinical scenario from their practice and then create a searchable clinical question using the PICO format.  This question would be presented at journal club for feedback by group and recommendations for search strategies.  The individual (or team) would then search for information and document their search strategy.  They would select an article for the group to read and distribute it one week prior to the next journal club meeting.  At the next journal club meeting the individual (or team) would present their search strategy and then lead the appraisal and discussion of the study and the implications on practice for the group.

This format creates a structure for appraising the literature and a focus towards the implications of new research on our practice and patients.  It also ensures that at least two people have direct participation in the content for each journal club meeting and all have the responsibility to participate throughout the year.

For more information, please contact Clara Fowler, Manager, Information Services, at 713-745-1538 or

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