Select an article: This may seem challenging considering how many options are be
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Select an article: This may seem challenging considering how many options are before you! Consider articles on topics of interest to you that will generate conversation. Also consider topics discussed earlier in the year…variety is a good thing! Articles presenting straightforward methods might be better depending on your topic. Of particular importance to this course is the clear application or testing of one or more health behavior theories. Articles should generally be published in the last 8 – 10 years in order to maintain relevance to contemporary health promotion/education.
Once you’ve narrowed down the pool of options to a few articles, you might ask yourself: Was a new association (positive or negative) or novel method presented? Did the results contradict previous knowledge? Did the study make a major public health impact? Were many critical letters written to the editor in response to it?
Read the article: Based on what you are currently learning and what you already know, read the article with a critical eye. Consider hypothesis, study design, bias, methods of analyses used, etc. How can readers make sense of the numbers in the tables? Are the results reproducible? Does the discussion accurately interpret results, specifically in the context of existing knowledge? Are limitations and advantages discussed? How did peer reviewers respond? What would you have done differently? It’s a good idea to keep the Guidelines to Reviewing Journal Articles (Symons/McClellan) on hand while you go through the article.
Present the article: Be prepared to describe what you’ve read in a few sentences at the start of the Journal Club meeting. Even people that have read the article will appreciate a brief synopsis of the main points before you dive into more in-depth assessments. Give some thought to how you can present the article it in a way that makes sense to your discussion. Will handouts be appropriate? Maybe a few slides would help? Will there be something for everyone in the discussion? Finally, it’s a good idea to prepare a few focused discussion questions rather than to present your article and wait for people to react to your thoughts. (E.g. Rather than saying, “I think it would have been interesting to see the results of x type of analysis,” you might try “I thought these were some of the pros to using x type of analysis. What are some of the cons to x analysis? What method could have been better or just different?”).
Summarize and process: Finally, did you and the group, learn some information and/or skills from the time spent on reviewing the article? That is, of course, the most important measure of learning: getting the most out of your time and efforts!