ReproducibiliTea was originally started in 2018 by Amy Orben, Sam Parsons, and Sophia Crüwell at the University of Oxford as a podcast and journal club. It is now about 18 months old and has started to find its feet; ReproducibiliTea has expanded to 42 journal clubs in 15 countries worldwide at the time of writing. It’s expanding so rapidly that by the time you read this, it will likely be out of date.
Due to this expansion, Amy Orben recruited an organising committee to unite, promote and support the ReproducibiliTea community. Introducing the organising ReproducibiliTeam:
- Amy Orben @OrbenAmy: high-level organisation and UKRN liaising
- Sam Parsons @Sam_D_Parsons: podcast production
- Sophia Crüwell @cruwelli: podcast scheduling and webinars
- Matt Jaquiery @MJaquiery: website design and maintenance
- Katie Drax @katiedrax: external communications
- Jade Pickering @Jade_Pickering: community building and merchandising
My first initiative to build a better sense of communiTea (sorry) was to ask current journal club organisers about their experiences. Was it easy to set up the club? What went well? What didn’t? What could the ReproducibiliTea community do to support them? I distributed these questions, and others, in a survey and received responses from 18 different clubs from Austria, UK, Singapore, Germany, Netherlands, USA and Japan.
Although it’s entirely up to each journal club to decide how they want to run things, many respondents appreciated guidance and ideas. So let’s give the people what they want! Here I have summarised what we learned from the survey, and provided an overview of where we can go from here.
Spreading the word
One of the hardest parts of setting up a ReproducibiliTea journal club seems to be in finding people to attend…a crucial aspect of any meeting! Those clubs with better attendance had a lot of success spreading the word through Twitter and word of mouth. They found advertising through existing university communities, such as postgraduate societies, particularly effective.
A few members of the ReproducibiliTea community felt that the @ReproducibiliT twitter account could do more to support the individual clubs by promoting them. In response to this, the committee will update and rebrand the Twitter account and create an official hashtag. This will allow us to promote local clubs as club organisers and members can use the hashtag when they want to be seen and boosted by the main account.
Running a club session
The respondents gave a description of their standard meeting formats. Most journal clubs follow a generic format. Once every 2-4 weeks the organiser(s) will distribute a paper amongst attendees in preparation for an hour’s session to discuss the paper. Typically, the session leader (normally an organiser) will spend 5-10 minutes summarising the topic of the paper, and then the rest of the session is dedicated to free discussion amongst all attendees, often with prompts from the organiser if the discussion is slower. This is usually accompanied by tea served in a ReproducibiliTeapot, coffee, biscuits, and other snacks. The clue is in the name - refreshments are strongly recommended!
So how do you decide on a paper? There’s a handy list on the Open Science Framework (OSF) page to get you started, and a Zotero library. Club organisers are free to add their own suggestions to Zotero if they find any good ones. Over time we can build a curated list of papers together which may reduce the burden on organisers to find papers and willing presenters. Speaking of which, finding a willing presenter is a common problem for many clubs. Some get around this by having one of the organisers choose and present papers but, in the future, it would be ideal to have a mix of presenters across different departments.
A couple of clubs do things differently and, notably, these are the clubs with some of the highest regular attendance rates. At University College London, they have a longer presentation of around 30 minutes with some discussion points throughout before moving on to a freer discussion. The University of Surrey’s ReproducibiliTea club meet under the umbrella of the newly established Surrey Reproducibility Society which is officially registered as part of the Students’ Union; they alternate between the generic format and miscellaneous workshops and presentations.
However you choose to structure your own journal club sessions, there is always an online support community comprising other ReproducibiliTea journal club organisers willing to help you out and support you. Read on for more…!
Setting up your own club can be daunting if you’re not sure where to start. Thankfully, we already have a good community presence…if you know where to find it. It was clear from some respondents that we hadn’t done enough to advertise our community spaces. If you’re a journal club organiser you can access our Slack workspace and invite your members. We use this to share our ideas, woes, accomplishments, and cat (or dog) pictures. The Slack is the best place to be for a sense of community, and to get instant responses from other organisers for any questions or suggestions you might have. Each local branch of ReproducibiliTea can also have their own component on the parent ReproducibiliTea OSF project page and their own page on the reproducibilitea.org website. If you’re not on the Slack, OSF, or website and you think you should be - do let us know at email@example.com!
Bringing clubs together in real life
We live in a glorious age of connectivity online, but that isn’t always a substitute for meeting like-minded people in real life. One of the most popular suggestions/requests in the survey was for an event or gathering where we could get together offline.
Watch this space! ReproducibiliTea: The Big Meeting, coming soon.
Jade Pickering (jade-pickering.com) is a final year PhD student and co-leads the University of Manchester journal club with George Farmer, Daniel Poole, and Thomas Richardson.