FOR a few weeks I've been toying with the idea of an online Journal Club. As a PhD student I am encouraged to take part in organised journal clubs, where current papers are discussed, scrutinized and learnt from. I am lucky in that my research group run their own journal club, but I am all too aware that many do not have such an opportunity. Furthermore, as part of a course I have been attending lately I was asked to critique a microbiology paper - this being unrelated to my own field of research - and I learnt a lot from the experience, approaching a paper as a rank outsider, picking up on what is clear and what is not considering my background knowledge of the topic was next to nil.
So I thought about setting up an online journal club, a place to discuss papers of fields all across science, because we can all learn a great deal in doing so. Plus, those that do not attend journal clubs themselves could use the site to boost their analytical, discussion and presentational skills. It became more of an idea, however, as I started to think about how it might work and what rules and controls would be needed.
I kept the idea reasonably quiet, lest anybody beat me to it.
They beat me to it.
Two evenings ago saw the first Twitter Journal Club discussion, users critiquing a pre-arranged paper live on Sunday evening using the hashtag #TwitJC. It looked great and was well received.
But TwitJC is largely for the medical community, whereas the rest of science has much to discuss too. Therefore, I don't want to give up on the idea of a wider scientific journal club. It wouldn't be a live, Twitter-based setup, but it would allow for widespread debate and, you've got to hope, enjoyment. So I open this up to the wider Internet:
1. Is this a worthwhile project to pursue?
2. If so, what form is preferable? Should it be discussion-of-a-paper based, or be feature based, providing a facility for people to write and comment on News & Views-style articles as in Nature or "this is my favourite paper... because..."-style articles, such as the Journal club series run by Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology? Or all of these?
3. If discussion based, should there be directed questions or should it be a free for all?
4. What papers? Which journals can the majority of people access?
5. Who should it be aimed at - PhDs, postdocs, academics, the public, or everyone?
6. How should it work with regards to permissions (from authors) and moderation (of commenters), given that it would be a very public forum of discussion?
I would appreciate your comments and suggestions and, should it be agreed that this should happen, would welcome people who would like to become involved. If this is going to be done properly it would need, I would imagine, a healthy team of willing volunteers to build and feed it. My specialism falls within biology - if it were to be used for the other sciences I would definitely need at least one person from each major discipline.
Thanks in advance!