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Journal Club Guide

A guide about the how-to's of participating in journal clubs.

Understanding the Information

Understanding the Information

Understanding what you are reading in a journal article can be difficult. The methods, procedures, and results can almost seem completely foreign at times. The best way to overcome this difficulty is by looking up and researching these methodologies.

Good Places to Start

Methods: The methods section can be difficult to understand if you are not familiar with the procedures, reagents, or machinery. As a reminder, you should be able to understand the logic behind the choice of procedures, reagents, and equipment. A good way to remedy any gaps is by looking up background information. Great places to find information are on manufacturers' websites (for equipment and reagents that are listed) such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, New England Biolabs (NEB), and etc. Many manufactures list detailed information about why their products are different or superior to standard practice with explanations. For example:

Try searching these websites beyond your Google Search. You can also try searching for information on ResearchGate, a scientific forum, or for instructional videos on Youtube.

Results: Understanding the results is also very difficult. Successfully reading and interpreting the results requires strong critical thinking skills, meticulous attention to detail, and patience. Having a solid understanding of the methods section helps. Looking up information about the purpose and the analysis of statistical tests can be helpful when you are trying to understand the results. The best way to approach the results section is to take a deep breath, work through it slowly and meticulously, write notes about your questions, thoughts, and uncertainties (you can potentially share these questions and uncertainties during the journal club). You can also use the discussion section to help comprehend why the results were interpreted or finalized in a certain way.