The Second #TwitJC Twitter Journal Club

14 06 2011

In the previous post I wrote about  a new initiative on Twitter, the Twitter Journal Club (hashtag #TwitJC). Here, I shared some constructive criticism. The Twitter Journal Club is clearly an original and admirable initiative, that gained a lot of interest. But there is some room for improvement.

I raised two issues: 1. discussions with 100 people are not easy to follow on Twitter, and 2. walking through a checklist for critical appraisals is not the most interesting to do (particularly because it had already been done).

But as one of the organizers explained, the first session was just meant for promoting #twitjc. Instead of the expected 6 people, 100 tweople showed up.

In the second session, last Sunday evening, the organizers followed a different structure.

Thus, I thought it would only be fair, to share my experiences with the second session as well. This time I managed to follow it from start to finish.

Don’t worry. Discussing the journal club won’t be a regular item. I will leave the organization up to the organizers. The sessions might inspire me, though, to write a blog post on the topic now and then. But that may only work synergistic. (at least for me, because it forces me to rethink it all)

This time the discussion was about Rose’s Prevention Paradox (PDF), a 30 year old paper that is still relevant. The paper is more of an opinion piece, therefore the discussion focused on the implications of the Prevention Paradox theory. It was really helpful that Fi wrote an introduction to the paper, and a Points of Discussion beforehand. There were 5 questions (and many sub-questions).

I still found it very hard to follow it all at Twitter, as illustrated by the following tweet:

  • laikas I think I lost track. Which question are we? #twitjc Sun Jun 12 20:07:03
  • laikas @MsPhelps ik werd wel helemaal duizelig van al die tweets. Er zijn toch wel veel mensen die steeds een andere vraag stellen voor de 1e is beantwoord -9:47 PM Jun 12th, 2011 (about instant nausea when seeing tweets rolling by and people already posing a new question before the first one is answered)

I followed the tweets at Imagine tweets rolling by and you try to pick up those tweets you want to respond to (either bc they are very relevant, or because you disagree). By the time you have finished your tweet, already 20 -possibly very interesting tweets- passed by, including the next question by the organizers (unfortunately they didn’t use the official @twitjournalclub account for this).

Well, I suppose I am not very good at this. Partly because I’m Dutch (thus it takes longer to compose my tweets), partly because I’m not a fast thinker. I’m better at thorough analyses, at my blog for instance.

But this is Twitter.  To speak with Johan Cruyff, a legendary soccer-player from Holland, “Every disadvantage has its advantage”.

Twitter may not favor organized discussions, but on the other hand it is very engaging, thought-provoking and easy accessible. Where else do you meet 100 experts/doctors willing  to exchange thoughts about an interesting medical topic?

The tweets below are in line with/reflect my opinion on this second Twitter Journal Club (RT means retweeting/repeating the tweet):

  • laikas RT @themattmak@fidouglas @silv24 Congratulations again on a great #twitjc. Definitely more controversial and debate generating than last week’s! -9:18 PM Jun 12th, 2011
  • laikas @silv24 well i think it went well (it is probably me, I’m 2 slow). This paper is broad, evokes much discussion & many examples can B given -9:45 PM Jun 12th, 2011
  • DrDLittle Less structure to #twitJC last night but much wider debate 7:41 AM Jun 13th, 2011
  • amitns @DrDLittle It’s obviously a very complex topic, more structure would have stifled the debate. A lot of food for thought.#twitJC -7:45 AM Jun 13th, 2011

Again, the Twitter Journal Club gained a lot of interest. Scientist and teachers consider to borrow the concept. Astronomers are already preparing their first meeting on Thursday… And Nature seems to be on top of it as well, as it will interview the organizers of the medical and the astronomy journal club for an interview.

Emergency Physician Tom Young with experience in critically appraisal just summarized it nicely: (still hot from the press):

The two meetings of the journal club so far have not focussed in on this particular system; the first used a standard appraisal tool for randomised controlled trials, the second was more laissez-faire in its approach. This particular journal club is finding its feet in a new setting (that of Twitter) and will find its strongest format through trial and error. indeed, to try to manage such a phenomenon might be likened to ‘herding cats’ that often used description of trying to manage doctors, and I think, we would all agree would be highly inadvisable. Indeed, one of its strengths is that participants, or followers, will take from it what they wish, and this will be something, rather than nothing, whatever paper is discussed, even if it is only contact with another Tweeter, with similar or divergent views. 

Indeed, what I gained from these two meetings is that I met various nice and interesting people (including the organizers, @fidouglas and @silv24). Furthermore, I enjoyed the discussions, and picked up some ideas and examples that I would otherwise wouldn’t know about. The last online meeting sparked my interest in the prevention paradox. Before the meeting, I only read the paper at a glance. After the session I decided to read it again, and in more detail. As a matter of fact I feel inspired to write a blog post about this theory. Originally I planned to write a summary here, but probably the post is getting too long. Thus I will await the summary by the organizers and see if I have time to discuss it as well.

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8 responses

14 06 2011
Thomas Young

Sorry about typos

14 06 2011

Oh, I do it all the time… But I copied your new version..

15 06 2011
Kash Farooq

Interesting read.
We’ll see how the astronomy one goes on Thursday.

Over 200 people follow the @astronomyjc account now, and about 20 countries are represented. I imagine most Tweets will be in English though, as most of the followers appear to be from the UK and the US.

I’ve no idea how many people will actually take part – so we’ll see if we have the “too many tweets rolling by” problem.

I do like the idea that astronomers from all over the world will be chatting to each other, making new connections, learning new ideas.

I see the Astronomy Twitter Journal Club as an astrophysics conference – but instead of meeting up at a conference centre somewhere, we are meeting up on Twitter.

15 06 2011

Thanks Kash. The Medical Twitter Journal Club was a success (despite the many tweets rolling by ;), and I am sure that will also be the case for the Astronomy Journal Club.

Discussing a specialized, recent paper, which sparked a lot of discussion is a good choice, imo. It will be a success, because ppl are motivated to make it a success. Its motivating to exchange thoughts with colleagues you would not otherwise meet. Scale doesn’t matter, as long as there are not too many ppl (hundreds?) But I don’t expect that much the first meeting(s). It probably also helps that you are a specialized group.

But it is exciting, and I wish you a lot of success with your Journal Club initiative.

btw I liked the advice to the participants to address the tweets to @_atjc so that their Twitter followers won’t see any of the chat tweets. It is good to keep that in mind too.

15 06 2011

I’ve learned about the #TwitJC from @berci and @drves.
The idea is intriguing but I definitely don’t find the tool time efficient or productive. Maybe in depth discussion could be developed elsewhere? Forums are out of fashion?
Are there alternatives? I think Journalfire is a good tool to comment specific papers but strangely I haven’t seen any community building.
Mekentosj’s Papers2 Livfe platform (beta testing at the moment) gives a good opportunity to create collections (folders in the application) which have notifications whenever there is new material / comments from the people that have joined a specific (public or private) group. I think this is a very efficient solution.
Mendeley groups are another solution, but I wish comments could be made directly on the article’s homepage and that the “Readership Statistics” could display the actual people that have that specific paper in their library.
Thanks for your time, I am very interested in your comments.

(I think I will jot down a blog post on this right now…)

16 06 2011

Hi Medgeek

Thanks for your interesting comment and discussion of other tools than the Twitter Journal Club. Apparently many people disagree with you in that they do find it worth wile to spend 1 hr of their weekend to discuss a paper. 😉

I think the emphasis is on discussion and interaction here, and I would not know of another way of achieving that with appr. 100 people besides taking the plane and meeting in real life. It is somewhat chaotic, though. More chaotic then in a meeting room, where people are expected to listen to one person at a time.

I agree, and I pointed that out in the previous post, that discussion with 100 people isn’t the best way to dissect a paper step by step or specifically comment to a paper.
The tools that you describe are more appropriate for commenting and for sharing (creating awareness). And as you indicate yourself, these tools are not very strong in community building. They are also not suitable for true critical appraisal according to a checklist. Neither are they very suitable to discuss the findings/theory from your own expertise/experience.

I like the possibility to comment to papers directly. PLOS does allow this. [I once submitted a comment to JNCI, but even this comment was peer reviewed and took 2 months to be published] -but still this is only a one way comment.

My conclusion (perhaps a bit obvious): every tool serves a different purpose. Every person chooses the tool he/she thinks work best.

Links to your post and my previous post:

4 07 2011
Rob Fraser

Interesting I must have missed that, glad I caught this post thought. I agree with you that I’m not sure 140 characters would be great to facilitate deep discussion, but I like the idea of getting people discussing research. I started a blogging research challenge, to start to push myself to read more and share the interesting articles I was coming across. It has been intersting to see how that has spread around.

I’m not sure there are an “right” answers on how to use social media, but any increase in reading and sharing evidence is a good thing in my mind.

8 09 2011
FUTON Bias. Or Why Limiting to Free Full Text Might not Always be a Good Idea. « Laika's MedLibLog

[…] A few weeks ago I was discussing possible relevant papers for the Twitter Journal Club  (Hashtag #TwitJC), a succesful initiative on Twitter, that I have discussed previously here and here [7,8]. […]

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