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A walk in the Park

This blog is dedicated to everyone who has struggled with Community Medicine. Through my posts I hope to simplify and demystify community medicine. The emphasis will be on clarifying concepts rather than providing ready-made answers to exam questions.

Feedback is crucial for the success of this endeavour, so you are encouraged to comment and criticize if you cannot understand something.

If you want a topic to be discussed sooner rather than later, please let me know via

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Community-Medicine-for-ALL/429533760433198  

[Alternatively, you may join the group communitymedicine4ALL: 


Twitter: @DocRoopesh

A single example may not be able to explain 100% of a given topic, so multiple examples may be provided to explain different parts of a single concept.

If something doesn’t seem right:

a. Write to me about it (at commed4all@gmail.com), and

b. Cross check with another source (textbook, expert, etc.)

I hope that my exertions will make your experience with community medicine seem like a “Walk in the Park”

Note 1. Those who wish to contact me on facebook are requested to kindly send a personal message introducing themselves along with the request. This will help save time and effort of all concerned. Please do not expect me to visit your page to try and identify you/ your areas of work/ interest, etc. It is common courtesy to introduce oneself to another when interacting for the first time. I am merely requesting that the same civil courtesy be extended here, too. Henceforth, I may not accept any friend requests/ requests to join the group on facebook unless accompanied by a note of introduction (except when I already know the sender).  

Note 2. Please understand that this blog (and the corresponding facebook page/ group) is maintained in my spare time. I have a full time job, and am available to pursue these activities only after regular working hours (after 5 pm Indian Standard Time). However urgently you may wish to receive a response from me, I will be able to respond only upon returning home from work (I am offline the rest of the time).

Note 3. Please mind your language when interacting with me/ in the group linked to this blog. Rude/ offensive language will result in expulsion from both my friends list and the said group.

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How to present an article in Journal Club

Disclaimer: This is a brief write up of a live lecture I took for Community Medicine PGs under the aegis of IAPSM eConnect recently. Although the title mentions journal club, the suggestions are applicable to any scientific presentation.

For my full lecture (in which I discuss more points, and provide several examples to illustrate my points), please click on the link to the YouTube recording of the lecture provided at the end of the article.

Background Information:

The first recorded journal club dates back to 1835, when Sir James Paget met students to review articles.

However, it was only in 1875 that the first known regular journal club was reported by Sir William Osler.

Initially journal clubs served to purchase and distribute journals which members could not afford to subscribe to on an individual basis.

Types of Journal Clubs

  • Traditional: Juniors select articles, and seniors critique juniors’ presentation
  • Problem and evidence based: These journal clubs follow a systematic approach with checklists and/or guidelines to critique scientific articles
  • Methodology teaching: The emphasis is not on critiquing articles, so such a journal club focuses on stimulus questions posed by faculty to stimulate learning. Naturally, the faculty play an intensive role in such journal clubs.
  • Combined problem-based with methodology teaching: Attendees are briefed on research methods used in the article in addition to the use of checklists (as would happen in problem or evidence-based journal clubs.

Key Messages:

Expectations from a presentation

Mastery of topic

  • Adequate breadth and depth of reading
  • Familiarity with context/background and related concepts/ articles
  • Familiarity with diverse opinions/perspectives on same topic
  • Ability to explain key points/concepts in simple language without excessive use of technical jargon (conceptual clarity5yr old/5th grader test)
  • Ability to answer questions with further explanation
  • Ability to synthesize information from various sources and defend claims
  • Familiarity with relevant technical terms
  • Ability to expand all acronyms used and explain relevance
  • Ability to explain related concepts using simple, everyday language and illustrations
  • Ability to make linkages with practice/other topics

Good communication skills

  • Ready eye-contact and engagement with audience
  • Audible and clear with good pronunciation
  • Judicious and good use of visuals and graphics

Demonstration of critical thinking

Essentially a questioning, challenging approach to knowledge and perceived wisdom. It involves ideas and information from an objective position and then questioning this information in the light of our own values, attitudes and personal philosophy.“

Arriving at one’s own conclusions based on the available evidence.

Immediately accepting an idea that suggests itself as a solution to a problem is not critical thinking.

Common pitfalls

Insufficient preparation

  • Unfamiliar with background concepts/context
  • Reading limited to a few articles and/or superficial reading

Lack of rehearsal: This can make the difference between an average and a good presentation.

Poor communication skills

  • Dependent on notes/slides and no/minimal eye contact
  • Inaudible/poor pronunciation (the audience must make an effort to hear/understand)
  • Stiff body language
  • Insufficient/inappropriate use of visuals/graphics (too small/ illegible/ crowded)

Insufficient/inappropriate critical analysis: Performing a superficial analysis, or using the wrong tool, or both.

Failure to link article with theory and/or practice

Lack of critical thinking

  • Unquestioningly/readily accepting claims/conclusions
  • Failure to consider contradictory/opposing/alternative positions/explanations
  • Failure to account for bias (authors’ and own)
  • Failure to synthesize own meaning/inference from evidence
  • Inability to take a considered stance and defend it

Tips to improve presentation

Aim for mastery of content

  • Become an expert on the topic- literally!
  • Read extensively (not just a single article/ few articles)
  • Clarify unfamiliar concepts
  • Understand nuances: to avoid falling into potential ‘traps’ during discussion

Anticipate questions and prepare answers for them

  • Contentious areas- prepare a stance
  • Confusing/complicated topics- prepare simplified explanation preferably using non-technical language that is easy for even a 5th grader to understand.

 Provide brief explanation(s) during your presentation, reserving detailed explanations for the discussion/question and answer session.

Proofread slides

  • Check for grammatical, spelling errors
  • Avoid duplication, repetition
  • Reduce text, include more visuals/graphics
  • Ensure coherence

Consider your audience

  • Best way to communicate?
  • Background knowledge
  • Level of interest

Ensure consistency throughout

  • Use the same presentation template/design for all slides
  • Maintain uniform font family; font size for headings, body: This is to ensure smooth transitions between slides.

 Rehearse your presentation

  • Seek feedback on explanations, style, etc. from peers and incorporate the suggested changes into your presentation
  • Time yourself
  • Refine presentation in an iterative manner (make changes after each review/ mock presentation)

Provide copies of the article beforehand: This will ensure that your audience pays attention to your presentation instead of trying to somehow quickly read the article instead. You will also have to spend less time providing basic details about the article during the journal club session.

Prepare a brief, structured summary of the article on your own

  • Brings clarity and focus
  • Tests how well you have read the article

Use standard tools to assess article quality/perform critical appraisal.

There are several standard critical appraisal tools. Ensure that you use the tool appropriate for the type of article you will be presenting.

Useful Link:

Link to the lecture recording on YouTube: