Introduction to journal clubs


This bitesize learning unit gives you the opportunity to reflect on how journal clubs might be used to support evidence-informed practice in your context. Journal clubs are a regular cycle of meetings at which research is critically discussed. The unit introduces the journal club model, traditionally used in medicine, and outlines how the approach has more recently been used in education. Effective professional development (PD) plays a central role in improving classroom practice and pupil outcomes. Journal clubs have the potential to include several of the key mechanisms of effective professional development discussed by Sims et al. (2021), helping to build knowledge, motivate staff, develop teaching techniques and embed practice. For example, implementation plans help to change habitual behaviour through a paired lesson planning exercise. Teachers themselves are able to set and agree on goals, choosing what articles to read and how to implement what they have learned. 

This model could be used at trust-level, whole school level or departmental level to enable teachers to critically reflect on the latest research and consider how research could inform their practice. The unit includes a series of recommendations for running an effective journal club and introduces two tools that can be used to support critical reflection: a web-based tool to enable you to Assess Claims in Education (ACE) and a Critical Appraisal Tool (CAT) designed to guide you through appraising articles presenting original research data.

We invite you to watch the video below. Here, Dr. Lisa-Maria Muller, Head of Research at the Chartered College of Teaching, provides an overview of the benefits of adopting the journal club model. We have also produced an accompanying Journal Club Guide to support you with organising and facilitating effective journal clubs in your context.



Sims, S., Fletcher-Wood, H., O’Mara-Eves, A., Cottingham, S., Stansfield, C., Van Herwegen, J., Anders, J. (2021). What are the Characteristics of Teacher Professional Development that Increase Pupil Achievement? A systematic review and meta-analysis. London: Education Endowment Foundation. The report is available from:



We invite you to read the following Impact articles to develop your understanding of the journal club model.

How to assess claims about cognition and learning: The ACE Concepts
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Journal clubs: Promoting a career-long culture of research engagement
A culture of practitioner research: Growing teacher expertise

Research summary

A research summary is a short article that summarises the evidence-base underpinning a particular approach. In this case, we invite you to read the following summary to develop your understanding of the research that informs the journal club model.

Journal clubs as an approach to teacher CPD

Reflective questions

  • What strategies for engaging with research do you currently use in your context?
  • How might you use journal clubs to support evidence-informed practice in your context?
  • Are there any barriers you predict to implementing journal clubs in your setting and if so, how could you address them?


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