Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keys to a Successful International Journal Club on Twitter

The concept of an international twitter journal club in urology arose subsequent to urologist Dr Mike Leveridge tweeting from his local real time Journal Club meeting at Queen’s University in Canada catching the attention of international colleagues who wanted to join in on the discussion.  The twitter discussion that followed, came to realization that we were actually participating in a journal club discussion on twitter and agreed that this idea was worth pursuing.  Given that the ‘uro-twitterati’ were a truly global community, we were challenged with the logistical problems of a fixed time twitter chat.  The logical solution was to use an asynchronous chat model and it was agreed that we would hold journal club meetings over a 48 hour period of time to foster international engagement.

The account @iurojc was created with the agreed hashtag #urojc and history made as the first truly global surgical journal club on twitter.   From the outset, our team of supporters were eager to see that this project was not a ‘fly by night’ operation and several measures were put in place as follows:-

  • 1.     Asynchronous chat over 48 hours to enable global involvement without the constraints of time zones.  Whilst ‘international’ engagement could potentially be achieved with fixed time twitter journal club chats, it could only be achieved across a relative narrow band of time zones (eg transatlantic) 
  • 2.     Cutting edge publications are selected for discussion.  Papers that are within 4 weeks of publication on line ahead of print in the major urology journals provide incentive for participants who wish to be at the forefront of latest findings and opinion.
  • 3.     Engage journals to provide open access of the selected articles on line for easy access for participants.  This has been a huge benefit to participants who do not have ready access to manuscripts hidden behind a journal paywall.
  • 4.     Invitation of authors to participate in the twitter discussion.  This has been an essential part of the #urojc since its inception and provides insights that conventional and SoMe journal clubs could not otherwise achieve.  What if the author does not have a twitter account or does not wish to create one?  For one author, the invitation provided the incentive to join twitter and for another, we created a guest account which was actively used for one of the discussions.
  • 5.     A Best Tweet Prize is offered subsequent to each month’s discussion. We specifically do not offer donated prizes from companies offering products directly associated with the patient doctor interaction.  Our supporters are primarily entities associated with medical education, particularly the major journals in urology.  Prizes are generally valuable and include annual on-line subscriptions, fee exempt open access publication fees or free major conference registration as examples. Journal article and Best Tweet Prize winners selection are made independent of prize donors.  If a journal is supporting the Best Tweet Prize, the manuscript for discussion is intentionally selected from a different journal.
  • 6.     Routine follow-back of urology followers on Twitter and following of any urologists that we become aware of.  This policy maintains an open door for feedback and suggestions without users having to request a follow for direct messaging.  Our experience with direct messaging makes clear that not all followers wish to make public their questions or suggestions.

The #urojc has now been in operation since November 2012 on a monthly basis and typically we would have 35-40 active participants with each discussion and many more watching the discussion.  The @iurojc account currently has over 600 followers.  At the recent BJU International SoMe Awards held during the American Urological Association Annual Meeting in San Diego in May 2013, the #urojc was awarded the prize for “Innovation in Social Media”.  The #urojc continues to go from strength to strength and we welcome support and collaboration from the twitter community.


Henry Woo is the coordinator of the International Urology Journal Club on Twitter which can be followed @iurojc and his personal account can be followed @DrHWoo.  He is a urological surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School of the University of Sydney

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