Upon first hearing about the School of Sport and Exercise Science’s Sport and Exercise Psychology Journal Club, as I went into my first year of the Sport and Exercise Science course, my initial reaction, to be brutally honest, was “Oh, no. Something else that I can get called a teacher’s pet for going to”. So, it’s fair to say, that I just wasn’t sold.

I spent my first few weeks at University on the English Literature course, before I then changed to sport. By the time I arrived on my current course, I was completely oblivious to what these ‘journal articles’ were that the lecturers kept talking about. The only thing that I’d been introduced to in my first few weeks, had been a pile of books that was, quite frankly, taller than me. So, I brushed the idea of the club, or any such reading, under the carpet, and hoped that it’d just go away.

Obviously, it didn’t. After working my way through endless articles for my semester one assignments, but not actually knowing what to look for in them while I was reading, I re-evaluated, and decided to join Journal Club. It is still one of the best decisions I’ve made since being at University.

At first, I didn’t really know what to expect from joining. However, I soon settled into the first session. I was impressed, to begin with, at the fact that we were given a long time to read the week’s chosen article, at our own pace, in order to gain our own understanding, before the session. This, along with a template of things to think about while doing this, was also a massive help in knowing the most important pieces of information to pick out; something that I have carried into reading further articles, for any subject. I love the idea that we go over, and analyse each article in depth, as a group, as it helps to promote understanding of how to pick out the key information of the text. Further to this, we are able to explore topics that we may not be familiar with, which provides us with a better insight, from opening us up to new ideas, of studies or careers that we may want to pursue, in the future.

I’ve come to realise, through the Journal Club sessions, that it’s okay if you don’t have questions all of the time, as someone else always will, which tends to open new thought paths for you to explore; this helps you to think of questions that you hadn’t previously thought about. Being there and listening, is a lot more beneficial than not attending at all.

I’m also really grateful for the fact that we’ve been able to interact with Trish, Matt, and Rebecca, their selves, in regards to their own journal articles, and research that they have undertaken. The idea of interacting with the authors in person (or, at least via online meetings as we are doing at present), and being able to ask questions for further expansion of aspects surrounding their research, is so much more practical than reading something where you don’t have access to further information, or the thought processes behind it.

The fact that this club is also able to run over summer, and the lecturers are taking their own time to do this, is so helpful in keeping us engaged with University work and not slacking off in this time off.

I think that although I wasn’t keen on the whole concept of the club in the first instance, it has definitely changed my outlook on reading around my subjects, and has allowed me open my mind to explore new topics, surrounding future studies and/or professions.

Lucy O’Clarke, 1st year BSc Sport and Exercise Science Sport and Exercise Science