Imagine if nursery rhymes and fairytales had been published in academic journals? How different they would be! This is a bit of fun, but with a serious motive… improved research literacy!

A good groupwork activity is to ask students to design an abstract or poster for a nursery rhyme or children’s fairytale, and then present it to their class. Discussion of the methodology and results can then be encouraged. These activities are a great way to introduce paramedic students to the concept of research.

A very entertaining paper published in CMAJ in 2003 investigated the worrying trend of head injuries in nursery rhymes. You can read the paper in full here: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/169/12/1294.full

The Christmas special papers published in the BMJ are also a great way to show students that research can be fun, and is not as intimidating as it seems initially. For instance, a recent tongue-in-cheek paper from 2013 investigated the drinking habits of the famous secret agent James Bond (http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7255). Check out the best of the BMJ papers here – http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-best-of-the-british-medical-journals-goofy-christmas-papers-180948177/?no-ist

Asking students to perform a critical appraisal of these papers can help to develop critical thinking skills, and the lessons learned can subsequently be applied to clinical research papers.

Here’s my full collection of titles so far (thanks to all those who suggested titles on Twitter!) – click to view full image.