The new semester is upon us already and although I had hoped to post this sooner, I’m behind schedule. Apologies — but you know how it is! Anyway, this year I will be starting a monthly SportRχiv Journal Club (or #SportRxivJC if you’re twitter savvy) with my Level 5 and Masters students. The aim of the Journal Club is to engage with and critically evaluate research. Nothing new there. However, what is new is that the Journal Club will be based solely on preprints. Furthermore, the feedback generated will be posted here and the authors sent a link to the comments.

Although the idea of a Journal Club is as old as the academe itself, the idea of students — potentially from across the globe — reviewing pre-peer reviewed work (or preprints) is not. Although Journal Clubs have fallen a bit out of favour within most of the institutions I have worked at recent years, I am hopeful that this new format will be more engaging for the following reasons:

  1. By reviewing pre-published work the students will have the ability actually influence and (hopefully) improve the standard of research in our field. From prior discussions, this is one of the main reasons for disengagement in traditional Journal Clubs. Students feel like their comments are pointless as the horse has already bolted from the metaphorical stable.

2. It encourages a deeper level of engagement with research methods, which in many institutions, is sadly lacking.

3. Everyone can access preprints from home. It may be a minor point, but obstacles are obstacles. If you want students to engage in a task, reduce the hoops people have to jump through. Further, by basing the club on this format, we allow students from around the world to get involved and not just those privileged with wide reaching institutional journal subscriptions.

4. As the feedback has a more concrete value, I am hopeful that authors may take the time to video call into sessions to discuss the feedback generated too. We live in a largely connected world and through the power of the internet can connect interested students and academics to have in-depth debates over a piece of work.

5. It’s pretty cool to be part of an emerging movement. Students have always led the way in taking action where they see injustice and may see their respective Journal Club as more than just examining a research, they may feel connected to their peers and inspired to knockdown the paywalls that slow down the advancement of science. Okay, most won’t care, but a couple will and who knows what they may go on to achieve.

If you would like to get involved, all you need to do is drop me an email (john@sportrxiv.org) to gain access to this page, organise a time to run your club (if you’re like me, this will most likely be alongside or as part of your second year research methods module), nominate a student to organise which preprints the group/class will review and collate the comments (you can use the shared project’s public OSF wiki section or if that seems too technical, any form of cloud based doc would work), and post them here. By working together, I am hoping to make it easier for authors to reach the maximum number of students in the least amount of time and to create a central resource for comments that is community led.