Journal Confession

journal reading

Have you ever had a habit that you worried was a little, well, deviant?  Or, as in my case, a habit I didn’t have that filled me with embarrassment for fear it would someday be exposed?  Well, during the past several months, I’ve sidled up to several SLPs and rather casually asked, “So how often do you get around to journal articles?”  More often than not, I received a sheepish look and, “I don’t.”

Hallelujah!  Not only does this mean recovery meetings won’t have a furtive, basement vibe, it means we have identified the problem.

For me, the issues that keep me from journals include:

  1.  Access:  Ok, this is rather unfair and, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving our natural resources, but having a journal electronically appear in my inbox is very out of sight, out of mind for me.  There’s no tangible coffee table nudge.
  2. Time:  There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in any given day to add “read journal article” to the to-do list and the task falls clearly on the work, not pleasure side of the table.
  3. Pertinence:  Research is, of course, necessary and pertinent.  However, journals are chock full of studies that don’t directly pertain to my scope of practice and wading through to find those that are just adds to the time issue (see above).
  4. Relevance:  Yes, research is theoretically relevant, but often studies don’t have specific clinical applications….yet.  Seminars and conferences on evidenced based practices that can be implemented immediately have been where I’ve focused my attention and, actually I’m apt to read a book if I think it has clinical applications before I start reading journal abstracts and statistical data, but I know I’m doing myself a disservice.

Then Mary Huston wrote a post last June.  Her blog, Speech Adventures, focuses on speech issues and she’s known for the breadth and depth of her knowledge of pediatric speech and language disorders.  So when she joined Research Tuesday, I knew I was in good hands.

Research Tuesday is facilitated by Rachel at Gray Matters Therapy and every second Tuesday, a pack (a chatter?) of SLPs, select an article each to review/summarize on their personal blog.

Mary’s original intro to the endeavor explained, “Obviously, since the purpose of the posts are to help keep me accountable for keeping current in research as well as providing information to my readers, I will do my best to keep things informative but readable. There will most likely be things in the review you wish weren’t there and there won’t be things you wish were there… That’s when you’ll have to go read the article yourself. But, at least you’ll have a good understanding of what the article is about.”  (You can read her most recent review here.)

The Thursday following the posts, Rachael compiles a list of the reviews with links and although Gray Matter’s focus is geriatrics, the article reviewers are diverse.  (You can view the list for February 2014 here.)

Her goal is to “increase accountability for reading the research, advocate for reading the research, and improving exposure to research. It is a lot easier to read reviews/posts about 12 articles a month then read 12 articles a month. I envision reading many summaries that I will ‘file’ away in my brain. Then maybe some months down the line I will have a client and think, ‘Oh, I know a great article to read that will help me treat this client.’”

Oh, happy day!  So now I know that once a month I’ll read an article (I give myself credit even though I’m reading the Sparks notes equivalent).  If it’s intriguing enough, I have gone to the source.  Maybe I am on a road to recovery!

Time to ‘fess up.  How often do you read the ASHA journals in your inbox?

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.