It was extremely refreshing to read the commentary on the launch of #BlueJC by Leung et al. We believe that this new initiative is extremely timely and encourages clinicians and trainees to engage in discussions related to evidence-based medicine. Furthermore, the ability to directly connect with the authors of papers being discussed suggests that the #BlueJC model offers a unique learning opportunity over traditional journal clubs. BJOG are to be applauded for their support in this innovative approach, which is central to the overall success of an online journal club.
We do, however, have some doubts regarding the suitability and long-term sustainability of Twitter as the social media platform of choice. We feel that the character limit of 140 characters does not easily allow in-depth conversations to take place. Another issue is the data collection system, ‘Storify’, used to archive the tweets, which relies on accurate use of the #BlueJC hashtag. If used incorrectly, valuable conversations may be lost from the discussion. However, our greatest concern is the limited number of clinicians seemingly prepared to engage on Twitter as illustrated by the most recent number of participants in the #BlueJC journal club in May, June and July being 13, 7 and 7, respectively.
We propose that BJOG continues to challenge the status quo set by other medical publishers and sets up its own web-based forum that can then be used as an ideal platform to host further online discussions. This would circumvent the character length and hashtag issues while maintaining the flexibility provided by an online discussion platform. One way to perhaps incentivise the participants is to consider developing a method to reward those who engage with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
In conclusion, we believe that initiatives like the #BlueJC online journal club will ensure that BJOG remains at the leading edge of online medical education, although there is still scope for further refinement which may ultimately enhance clinician engagement.