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Journal Club

Next journal club: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017.  The presenter will be Wenbo Li.

Wenbo will present:

Hepatocyte exosomes mediate liver repair and regeneration via sphingosine-1-phosphate.

J Hepatol. 2016 Jan;64(1):60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2015.07.030. Epub 2015 Aug 5.

Nojima H, Freeman CM, Schuster RM, Japtok L, Kleuser B, Edwards MJ, Gulbins E, Lentsch AB.


2017 Dates

  • April 11 - Yingjie Liu
  • May 9 - Wenbo Li
  • June 13 - Chenxuan (Yani) Yang
  • July 11
  • August 8
  • September 12
  • October 10
  • November 14
  • December 12


An important part of effective research is to be able to critically appraise the published work of others. Researchers need to be able to determine the scientific validity and importance of published data if they are to understand where their work fits into the body of scientific knowledge as a whole. Journal clubs are good places to learn these skills.

The Department of Surgery Journal Club has three main goals:

  1. To encourage critical appraisal of research publications
  2. To stimulate interest in research and broaden research knowledge
  3. To improve understanding of research design and statistics


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for interesting papers to discuss – or if you want to volunteer to present at a meeting – then please email Dr. Melanie Scott (scottm@upmc.edu).

Where and When?

We hold a journal club approximately once a month on a Thursday in the 12th floor conference room in the Department of Surgery in Presbyterian Hospital. Journal club starts at 11.30am and meetings are scheduled to last until about 1pm. The journal club schedule can be found on the Events and Seminars calendar. Lunch is provided for participants.

How does it work?

At each journal club meeting there is one presenter. This presenter chooses an interesting original research manuscript to discuss, and this paper is circulated to attendees in advance. At the meeting, the presenter provides an overview of the background, methods and findings of the paper, which is then discussed by the journal club group.

Get the most out of journal club

There are some easy ways to learn some valuable skills at journal club. The more interactive you are and the more willing you are to provide your input, the more you will learn overall.  Here are simple things you can do to really make your journal club experience valuable:

  1. Read the article to be discussed BEFORE you go to the journal club meeting. The meeting will be much more interesting to you if you already understand the paper presented and can contribute to the group discussion.
  2. Take a few minutes to look up some background information if you are unfamiliar with the research topic or methods that will be discussed. This is a good way to learn interesting new techniques or improve your understanding of wide-ranging topics.
  3. Ask yourself some questions about the work presented as part of your critical analysis. The sorts of questions you should be asking include:
  • What is the overall research question?
  • Why does this research question matter, or why is it important?
  • How does new information and data fit with what is already known?
  • Does the research have any relevance to you or your work?
  • Is the study design appropriate?
  • How are the variables and end-points measured and defined?
  • Do the authors interpret their findings appropriately?
  • What are the main findings of the study?
  • What are the implications of these findings?
  • What are the next steps to answer related research questions?

As with many things, the more you put into the journal club the more you will get out of it. At the very least you should read the paper BEFORE you go to the meeting and think of at least one question or comment that would be interesting to raise to the group.

Tips for selecting a good paper to discuss at journal club

There are many good quality journals that regularly produce interesting and relevant publications. So how do you decide which publication to choose for your journal club presentation? Here are four points to bear in mind when looking for an interesting paper that will stimulate discussion:

  • Pick an article that is interesting, provocative and tried to change the way we think about a research problem or question. Top-tier journals tend to publish ground-breaking or paradigm-shifting research, and these publications are good places to start.
  • Pick an article relevant to the type of research being performed in the department. If your fellow journal club members already know a little background on the topic they will be more likely to understand the overall aims of the paper and will be more likely to contribute to the discussion.
  • Do NOT choose review articles. Each paper should report original research findings and should have a methods section so that you can discuss the research design and conclusions made in the paper.
  • Occasionally it is OK to choose a pair of articles to present in one session. For example, two articles might be published in the same journal that relate to the same research question. In this case it may be interesting to contrast the methods used to investigate the question, determine which findings are more interesting or valid and even whether the findings are similar.

Whatever your final choice of paper you should make sure that others have at least one week to read the paper before the journal club presentation. It is also good to provide a little background information to your colleagues if the topic is less familiar to them. The main thing, though, is to have a clear idea of your opinion of the paper so you can effectively discuss the work.