Journal club

If there is one thing you should learn about me today, is that: I have always loved the idea of learning by teaching, although by default I have never taught as a profession. Having discovered the Feynman Technique, my friends and I decided to embark on a spin-off on this technique during our MA Design Strategy days — well that was about 6 years ago. The practice works like this:

  • Each of us would pick a journal paper on a design topic that we wanted to share with others, or one that we ourselves wanted to know more about
  • Gather around once a week, with snacks and drinks
  • Explain the paper using the simplest terms possible within 2-3 minutes (some of us i.e. me, were extra ambitious and prepared some slides)
  • Q&A session

I have only found out last week that this practice is similar to ‘journal club’, which is described as:

“…a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in the academic literature, such as the scientific literature, medical literature, or philosophy literature. Journal clubs are usually organised around a defined subject in basic or applied research. For example, the application of evidence-based medicine to some area of medical practice can be facilitated by a journal club. Typically, each participant can voice their view relating to several questions such as the appropriateness of the research design, the statistics employed, the appropriateness of the controls that were used, etc.”

… which sounds exactly what we were doing!

There are several good things that came out of running this journal club. One, obviously, is that you find yourselves learning new things that you might have never come across, or would take some time to learn by yourselves. Secondly, the Q&A session provides some perspectives you would probably have never thought of yourselves. My design MA programme consisted of brilliant individuals from multidisciplinary fields, and this is one way we can learn about and from each other. Thirdly, we all could learn to sharpen a number of skills as we structure our presentation content and share it with our friends — namely public speaking, critical thinking, content hierarchy, giving and accepting criticism diplomatically, writing etc. Finally, by having a group of people with the same level of expertise — instead of being explained by the author of the journal articles themselves — to explain things to you gives some form of openness and vulnerability, the feeling that we all could learn things from scratch together with and it’s completely OK. Plus, it’s great fun!

On another note, I decided to take a day off from data analysis today and sat down to structure my thesis content. Along the way, I discovered that there are some faster and more effective ways for me to clean my data without having to actually go through them one by one, as I have been painstakingly doing currently. Sure, it’s artisanal in a sense, but who has the time?

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