Research In Action

Research In Action

Journal Club Brings Students and Mentors Together
October 31, 2019

When I first joined the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP as a graduate student, I was awed (and slightly intimidated) by the sheer number of research projects related to injury prevention. From improving methods for teaching autistic teens how to drive to promoting trauma-informed pediatric care, I was overwhelmed by the many different methods with which to approach injury science research. Many of the Injury Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program students also struggled to grasp the full impact of their research project, let alone the research conducted at the Center as a whole. As one of their peer mentors, I introduced a weekly journal club to the REU program to help keep the students engaged with their research journey.

A journal club is designed to engage every member, from students to tenured faculty, with new or existing scientific literature in a particular field. Every participant reads the same scientific article, but one person is responsible for presenting the main findings of the paper, as well as leading the group discussion.

Each week, one REU student worked with their research and peer mentors to choose a scientific article related to their summer research project. The student worked closely with their mentors to identify key methods, findings, and, of particular importance, limitations of the research paper. The students learned more about the research questions they were working to answer in their 10 weeks at CIRP while simultaneously gaining exposure to a wide variety of topics within injury science research by attending these weekly discussions.

In particular, the REU students learned how to:  

  • locate relevant primary literature
  • analyze and think critically about scientific research
  • present technical findings to an audience with diverse backgrounds

By the end of the summer, I saw tremendous growth in the REU students as researchers, scientists, and enthusiastic learners. More important, all of us as peer mentors learned how to ensure that every voice is welcome and heard and how to create an environment in which every student can thrive. I’m looking forward to working with the next class of exceptional REU students and piloting new ways for keeping them engaged in research.