Reviewing a paper focuses on critical appraisal far more than does simply leafing through a journal. But one is not always given the most interesting papers to peer-review formally! The review process of a Journal Club and the facility for comment and discussion allow for choice of subject material and for the process to occur in an educational setting. It also usually entails a written record, something that those of us with slightly leaky memories have great use of when returning to the topic later.
The audience has the opportunity to engage in a more interactive process than that afforded by a lecture. The lessons learnt are often as much about the methodology and analysis used in conducting the research as about its outcome. For those pursuing or planning to pursue a career in a relatively academic field such as Neurology, one hopes that most intend to conduct their own research projects from time to time and so these lessons are important. And for others, gaining an insight into the pitfalls of conducting research and properly interpreting data remains invaluable for critical appraisal.
Some of the posts on this site are my own journal reviews, while others are generated from actual Journal Club discussions following papers presented by consultants and trainees in the Department of Neuroscience, Oueens Hospital, Romford, UK.