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Center for Nursing Excellence: Journal Club

Evidence Based Practice and Research Guide for Nursing Practice

Steps to Developing a Journal Club

What is a Journal Club?

  • A journal club is a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in scientific literature.
  • A journal club helps to improve your knowledge on a particular subject, improve your critically appraising an article skills, learn about the latest evidence, and assists in implementing EBP in your area. 

Step 1: Identify a Leader to Organize the Journal Club Project

  • It is important to have one (or two) person(s) who takes responsibility for the club
  • It should be someone who is interested, committed to the concept and willing to organize it
  • You could consider an interested staff member, clinical educator, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, nurse manager, or senior staff member

Step 2: Identify Goals

  • If the group is inexperienced in critiquing research, then a goal might be for the group to critique the same article and incorporate sharing and discussion about how to critique an article.
  • If the group is more experienced, the goal might be to identify a clinical problem and critique several articles relating to that problem.
  • If the group is mixed, the goal might be to teach and mentor the inexperienced members.
  • An application to practice goal is generally included.

Step 3: Identify Target Audience

  • Based on goals, identify your audience:
    • All nurses in a particular specialty
    • A cross section of staff
    • Interested staff
    • Staff in bachelors and masters programs
    • All staff on a specific unit
    • Open to all

Step 4:  Set a Time and Place

  • Select a convenient meeting time and place
  • Need to think about different shifts
  • Some may do a monthly lunch or meet for an early dinner in a local restaurant with ample free parking
  • The environment needs to be comfortable and suit the group
  • Food is often an important element and supports attendance as well as discussion

Step 5: Select Articles

  • Select the article or articles based on your goals
    • A specific process such as change of shift report
    • Care of a specific population
    • A topic of general interest to the audience
  • Use your librarian or CNE to help locate appropriate articles
  • Use web sites
    • CINAHL, PubMed

Step 6: Develop/Select Forms

  • Consider using two forms
    • One to summarize each article article read and discussed
    • One to summarize all the articles discussed in the group
  • Examples of such forms are on the following pages but developing a form that fits the needs of the group is also an option.

Step 7: Invite Participants/Getting the Word Out

  • Design a flyer to announce the journal club with title, place, time and plans.  Include RSVP so you have an accurate count for food.
  • Send flyer electronically or post.
  • Consider inviting an expert to help the first few sessions, especially with an inexperienced group.
  • 2-3 weeks prior to the meeting, make enough packets to distribute to the participants. Include the flyer and articles discussed.
  • Distribute the packets or select a place where they can be picked up.

Step 8: Hold the Journal Club

  • Begin and end on time
  • Open the meeting with an overview of what will be discussed
  • If critiquing the article(s) as a group, work through the article(s)
  • If the article was reviewed prior to the meeting then each presenter should give a brief overview of their article and facilitate a discussion
  • Encourage active participation by using pre-planned discussion questions

Step 9: Evaluate the Journal Club

  • What went well
  • What could have been better?
    • More attendance
    • Different time or place
    • Type of articles
    • Use of form
    • Provide training
    • Different format
    • Post article critiques
    • Tape record session for those unable to attend

Step 10: Adopt, Alter or Abandon Changes

  • Review the evaluation comments and make the necessary changes for the next meeting
    • Adopt new ideas
    • Alter current ideas
    • Abandon what didn't work at all


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