Pharmacy Students: Year 4: Journal Club

Information resources selected for year 4 Pharmacy students.

Find Synopses

These sources include citations to original articles AND commentaries/critiques of the original article. You can also search tables of contents of major journals for synopses.

Find Supporting Literature

Look for other articles on the same topic to help you evaluate and critique the article, and compare approaches in study design, data analysis, and conclusion. If you cannot find similar articles, try reviewing textbooks, guidelines, and clinical information tools to find additional information.

You can also contact the Norris Library for help with this step.

Is my article from a reliable/reputable source?

Most journal club assignments ask you to find an article from a "quality, reliable, reputable journal." Figuring this out is your judgment call, and to do it, we suggest using Google to locate the journal's homepage and review information about the journal. The Norris Library can also help you evaluate journals for quality. Some aspects to consider include:

- Is the journal peer-reviewed?

- Who sponsors or publishes the journal? Are they a non-profit or a for-profit company? What are the goals and aims of this parent company?

- Does it have an Impact Factor or Eigenfactor ranking listed? These are both measures of impact of the journal-- calculated from how frequently articles from the journal are cited and other related factors. Most journals that are low-ranked don't mention their lower rankings, but high-ranked journals will usually mention it.

- Where is the journal indexed? PubMed indexes only about 5,000 high-quality journals. Most other paid databases (Web of Science, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, BIOSIS Previews, EMBASE, Chemical Abstracts Services, CINAHL, and many more)  also only include high-quality journals.

- Who is on the editorial board or who serves as editors? Having the board all come from one institution, or having very few editorial board members, can indicate a lack of engagement with concerns of the scholarly community.

Critique and evaluate

In the literature analysis course in 2nd year and during case conferences classes, you have discussed and used general techniques applicable to all kinds of clinically-related articles using a variety of methodologies. Review this content, or, the book The Pharmacist's Guide to Evidence Based Medicine for Clinical Decision Making includes a chapter covering 10 major considerations applicable to almost all clinical research.

There are many guides, checklists, or lists of evaluative questions to help you examine studies using specific methodologies, but few are easy to find. Some have been selected and linked  here, but many additional reputable sites can be found online.

Many of these guides focus on more commonly used methodologies. "How to evaluate an article that uses XX method" or "Understanding YY statistical technique" is a common publication topic, especially for newer or less-common methodologies or statistical techniques. Try searching PubMed, Scopus, or Embase for articles of these types.

Preparing the presentation

Ask you preceptor what s/he expects. Use materials from previous classes and discussions you had about articles in classes to help you prepare. The sources below will also provide help.